Shluchim Treated to Respite Getaway
South Florida recently welcomed 22 shluchim and shluchos for an all-expense paid retreat courtesy of Yaldei Shluchei HaRebbe, an organization dedicated to providing for the needs of shluchim with children with special needs. The goal of the three-day retreat, held at the Chabad of Boynton Beach, FL, was to form a community amongst the participating shluchim and pamper them so that they would return to their families and communities with renewed energy and enthusiasm. As Shlucha Rivkah Caroline from Key Biscayne, Fl explained, “The retreat gives parents a well-earned chance to laugh, cry, share resources, and be a support to one another that otherwise is missing in our hectic lives.”
The retreat was an outstanding success as the shluchim left uplifted and strengthened. Rabbi and Mrs. Sholom Ciment graciously opened their Chabad House to host the event while caterer Moshe Stander wowed the shluchim with his gourmet cuisine and attention to detail. Some of the highlights of the retreat were the sunset cruise, massage therapy for the shluchos, and recreational group building workshops for the shluchim. While the event was certainly successful b’gashmius, it was the emotional support from their colleagues and event organizers that the Shluchim appreciated most. The intention of the retreat, as Yaldei director Gershon Sabol announced during the welcome dinner, is to have the shluchim form a community on their own where they can share resources and support one another as parents raising children with special needs on Shlichus.
So how do Shluchim get through their hectic day when not retreating at beautiful South Florida resorts? In his poignant presentation, Rabbi Shlomo Menkes from Simcha Monica, CA spoke about the need for bitachon and emuna. He stressed the importance of strengthening the entire family to ensure that they stick together. Rabbi Mendel Lipskier from Sherman Oaks, CA humorously shared his story of raising a child with special needs and offered chinuch tips. Yaldei’s directors and administrators took time to speak with each couple during the retreat, offering advice, counseling, and resources. The retreat also included separate support groups for men and women, providing a forum for the shluchim to share stories and struggles, as well as gain chizuk from one another. The event culminated in a spontaneous farbrengen, leaving theSshluchim uplifted and energized. As Shlucha Devorah Leah Dubov of Orlando, FL notes, “My husband and I have not only enjoyed what seemed like a mini-vacation but also gained incredible insights and ideas on what to do in all kinds of situations concerning our special child.”
Yaldei Shluchei HaRebbe was founded by yungeleit, Shluchim, and businessmen to provide assistance to Shluchim, ranging from helping with insurance co-pays and therapy programs to providing sibling support programs, family support groups, and parent respite opportunities. Yaldei also offers shluchim referrals to competent halachic authorities and clinicians for counseling, as well as reimbursement funds for medical needs not covered by insurance. Yaldei administrator and coordinator Sholly Weiser explains his personal commitment to the organization: “Growing up with a brother with Down syndrome gives me a bit of an understanding as to the challenges that come with raising a child with special needs. Knowing that for my parents 25 years ago there was no one out there helping them, I decided to change that in a major way. One of the ways is by creating these retreats.”
The zechus of a life on Shlichus is not without its well-known struggles. The challenge of raising a child with special needs is particularly felt on shlichus, where Jewish resources are few and far between. “The support Shluchim receive from Yaldei is invaluable,” explains Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch. “Events like this retreat offer Shluchim faced with the unique circumstance of raising a child with special needs the koach they need to continue carrying out the Rebbe’s mission in their corners of the world. The importance of this organization and its far-reaching impact should not be overlooked.” It is due to the continued generous support from Yaldei’s sponsors that these programs can take place.
For more information or to donate to Yaldei, click here.