At 1:45 pm last Sunday, 120 young Rabbis boarded buses and headed to a conference in Queens, NY.
The conference was hosted by The Jewish Released Time Program, an organization whose motto is as ambitious as it is simple; to bring Jewish education to the thousands of Jewish children enrolled in the public school system of the Greater New York area.
It would only be a few short days until this army of Rabbis would set out to bring Jewish values and traditions to the almost 1000 children enrolled in the program. There are currently 48 Jewish Hour locations running every Wednesday between 2-3 p.m.
Arriving in Queens, the boys were welcomed with a gourmet brunch at Kehilas Sha’arei Rachamim. At the start of the brunch a special video presentation was shown, after which Rabbi Sholom Ber Hecht, Chairman of N.C.F.J.E gave an opening address on the history of Released Time as well as its future objectives.
Following the opening address, Rabbi Aryeh Sokoloff shared his inspiring thought on the beauty and value of the program “The dedication you have to saving Jewish children is a gift that the Rebbe put into all of you. It is to be cherished!” he said. Rabbi Shmuel Zalmanov, an active member of the chabad community in Montreal, concluded the brunch with a fascinating recount of his involvement in bringing released time children to the Rebbe’s Sukkah for a rally just for them in 5736.
The Boys then headed back to the buses on rout to Chabad J.C.C which is led by Rabbi Mordechai Hecht. The Bochurim participated in a 2 part seminar consisting of powerful speeches and beautifully prepared videos and slide shows.
The first and central part was set to give the instructors perspective on how to run a proper Jewish Hour on Wednesday. Rabbi Yosef Minkowitz, Principal of Beth Rivkah girls’ school in Montreal, spoke of the Rebbe’s view on the purpose of education.
The seminar concluded with a glimpse into the mind of those who understand the program best. A panel of notable Released Time instructors shared their thoughts and ideas on how to create an efficient program for the almost 150 classes currently held In N.Y.C.
Eli Spiro shared general ideas that would be useful in any released time classroom. He also announced a few very important new initiatives for this year. Rabbi Shimon Rivkin, talked of his creative perspective on increasing child enrollment. Rabbi Moshi Rendler, gave over some tips on creating a secure and successful program. Finally, Nissi Deitsch gave a workshop for first timers: “The A to Z of Jewish Hour”.
The day was topped off with a well-deserved Barbecue Dinner for all to enjoy.
A special thanks goes to Rabbi Mordechai Hecht for hosting the conference, Heshel Yarmush for coordinating the conference on the scene, as well as Shloime Liberow for his role as chef.
The program was planned and coordinated by Shua Shneur, Eli Spiro and Issac Vogal.