April 23, 2024
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Hillside Chabad’s Rebbetzin Kanelsky Hosts ‘Hakhel’ Brunch in Memory of Daughter Bat Sheva’s 20th Yahrzeit

The month of Shevat marked thousands of “Hakhel” events by Lubavitch communities worldwide. Shevat is particularly auspicious for such events as the 10th of Shevat marks the yahrzeit of the Friediker Rebbe, father-in-law of Rebbe Menachem Mendel Scneerson, zt”l. The yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka is also marked on the 22nd of Shevat.

During biblical times, the “Hakhel’’ event marked the end of every seventh year during which Shemita was observed. It was the only event that required the attendance of every Jew, reminiscent of the historic moment when our nation stood at Har Sinai to receive the Torah. The Lubavitcher Rebbe repeatedly encouraged all Jews to utilize this auspicious time to assemble—men, women and children—and promote Torah study and observance. Nowadays, Hakhel events bring together Lubavitch communities and their shluchim to celebrate their endless endeavors in spreading closeness to Hashem through all of their projects, both educational and social.

Over 200 women from Hillside and adjacent communities from Modern Orthodox, Chasidic, Russian and Chabad backgrounds united together on Sunday morning, February 12, at the beautifully decorated social hall of the Bris Avrohom Center to participate in a Women’s Hakhel Gathering. The elegant brunch coincided with the 20th yahrzeit of Bat Sheva Kanelsky, ob”m, daughter of Rabbi Mordechai and Rebbetzin Shterney Kanelsky, who passed away on February 12, 2003, after a brief sojourn of only a few months on earth.

Rabbi Kanelsky initiated the program with the recitation of two perakim in Tehillim, 121 and 122, in honor of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin. The program began with Rebbetzin Kanelsky sharing her impassioned memories of those brief 65 days of her beloved Bat Sheva’s life and how they impacted the Jewish community in Hillside and across the globe.

Throughout that period, tefilot were recited worldwide on behalf of Bat Sheva’s refuah. Thousands of boys learned Tanya and Mishnayos by heart. Hundreds of teenage boys began wearing tzitzit on a daily basis. Over 800 mezuzahs were newly affixed to homes; 400 girls and women began lighting Shabbat candles; over 30 women began immersing for the first time in the mikvah—all in Bat Sheva’s merit. Numerous rallies were held at the Bris Avrohom Center by hundreds of high school girls and adults, who took upon themselves many special resolutions.

In the Rebbetzin’s words, “You were the catalyst to opening the hearts of so many who prayed for you endlessly and took upon themselves the observance of new mitzvos in the hope of your recovery.”

While Bat Sheva was hospitalized, dear friends Sandra and Morris Kaplan of Florida initiated the writing of a new sefer Torah in honor and for the refuah of Bat Sheva. The opening letters of that sefer Torah were written in the intensive care unit of Summit Hospital, where Bat Sheva was surrounded by family and friends. One year later, the sefer Torah in Bat Sheva’s memory was completed in a ceremony at the Kanelsky home, after which it was escorted with music and dance to the Bris Avrohom Center, where it joined the other nine sifrei Torah, creating a minyan of sifrei Torah.

Rebbetzin Kanelsky shared: “Your passing, Bat Sheva, created a great void in our home and our hearts. During shiva, which was attended by thousands, we decided to build an everlasting edifice to your memory in the form of a women’s mikvah. This site of holiness would encourage thousands of Jewish women to follow the holy laws of taharas hamishpacha, family purity, and hundreds of babies would be born as a result. And so we did create a beautiful and inviting state-of-the-art mikvah, which attracted women from our own as well as far-away communities. The mikvah is eternally dedicated to your memory and to that of my beloved mother, Chaya Esther Zaltzman, ob”m. Today we are celebrating you both, and the mitzvah that enables the proliferation of Am Yisrael through love and sanctity.”

Following Rebbetzin Kanelsky’s heartfelt presentation was an address by Rebbetzin Miriam Lipskier, who serves with her husband as the Chabad emissaries to Emory University in Atlanta. For three decades, the couple—and now their staff of eight, consisting of their children—have brought programs to the campus, educating the students in Yiddishkeit and providing warm settings for them to meet other Jewish students.

In her presentation, Rebbetzin Lipskier cited a law in Shulchan Aruch that states that a community can only be considered a halachic community if it includes a mikvah. Remarkably, if a community hosts only a shul and a sefer Torah, it can mortgage these items to construct a kosher mikvah. The rebbetzin suggested that since women are the experts in maintaining the Jewish soul, the mitzvah of taharas hamishpacha is the cornerstone of Jewish life. According to the Torah, the desire to connect is not only biological, but godly and holy. The mikvah reminds us that God’s priority is that we create connectedness to others. And what takes place in the privacy of our own homes affects what goes on in the outer world that we inhabit. If there is harmony and holiness in our private lives, this will reflect in our interaction with the world around us.

Coincidentally, the Hayom Yom that offers a daily spiritual message from the Rebbe for this day reads, “It is the duty of Chassidic wives and daughters (May they live and be well) to stand in the first rank of every activity dedicated to strengthening religion and Judaism in general, particularly concerning taharas hamishpacha. They must organize a society of Chassidic daughters to reinforce the Chassidic practices concerning upbringing and education of children as prevalent from time immemorial in Chassidic homes.”

To conclude the program, Rebbetzin Kanelsky was accompanied by Russian cellist Laura Melnikoff in an emotional musical presentation that she performed as a tribute to Bat Sheva on her 20th yahrzeit. The poignant song concluded with the verses “Every mitzvah we do is filled with longing for you. See the tables are set for your return.”

To lend your kind support to the Mikvah of Hillside go to www.mikvahhillside.com/donate

For more information or to book an appointment visit www.Mikvahhillside.com

For information, email [email protected] or call 908-391-7874.

By Pearl Markovitz

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