Unforgettable Retreat in Medzhybizh: Emotional Bar and Bat Mitzvah Celebration for Teenagers from Across Ukraine

In the complex of the famous Baal Shem Tov in Medzhybizh, dozens of Bar and Bat Mitzvah boys and girls from all over Ukraine gathered for a captivating and emotional retreat, concluding a unique preparation program organized by the EnerJew Jewish youth movement in the FSU. For the first time since the beginning of the crisis, Jewish teenagers from across the country met together.

A particularly successful Bar and Bat Mitzvah retreat recently took place in Ukraine. Dozens of Bar and Bat Mitzvah teenagers gathered for a special retreat at the Baal Shem Tov’s complex in the town of Medzhybizh in Western Ukraine.

The festive retreat was organized by the EnerJew youth movement, active across the entire FSU, operating in the FJC framework and part of Chabad JRNU activities in Ukraine. The event concluded an impressive Bar and Bat Mitzvah program, which included weekly meetings for the Bar and Bat Mitzvah teens with the local rabbis in their cities. The young participants who persevered in the weekly meetings and excelled in the tasks set for them received a gift of tefillin (for boys) to put on daily or silver candlesticks for lighting Shabbat candles (for girls).

The retreat’s theme focused on Jewish pride and was attended by boys and girls from all over Ukraine. It was made possible thanks to the support of the Finger Family Foundation and the Meromim Foundation, headed by Rabbi Ben Tzion Lipsker, and thanks to the dedicated efforts of the EnerJew team. The seminar was conducted by Rabbi Yaakov Yakimenko, Rabbi David Kolpak, and Mrs. Lena Kabilova.

“The event was unique,” says Rabbi Menachem Glitzenshtein, Chief Rabbi of Chernivtsi. “There were boys here from all over Ukraine, even from the front-line cities. Amid the crisis, many of the participants are currently disconnected from their former friends and live in safer cities. This celebration, with Jewish friends from all over Ukraine, gave them great joy.”

“It was a year of courses and meetings,” adds Rabbi Glitzenshtein, “during which they learned about the significance of Jewish tradition and heritage. After such an uplifting year, everyone gathered for the celebration and the feeling was very emotional. Words cannot describe how the children felt when they received the tefillin and the girls received the candlesticks. It was a very inspiring retreat that they will remember all their lives.”

Rabbi Simcha Levenhartz from Kyiv adds, “Every moment of the retreat was utilized. The participants enjoyed everything much more than expected, thanks to packed day schedules of uplifting programs. The smiles on their faces at the end of Shabbaton illustrated the success of the retreat. They all left very united and strengthened.”

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