rebbetzinsThis past November, Yeshiva University hosted it’s annual Rebbetzin Esther Rosenblatt Yarchei Kallah for Rebbetzins in Teaneck, NJ at Congregation Keter Torah with over 90 rebbetzins gathered together from across the United States and Canada. This program gives rabbis’ wives an opportunity to network with each other in a safe and supportive environment, develop lasting relationships, acquire new resources and skills and enjoy the intellectual stimulation of Torah study with leading Jewish scholars while being mentored by more experienced rebbetzins. This event acknowledges the great contribution and influence of rebbetzins in the growth and success of the rabbinic couple in developing their community. This year’s theme was: The Rabbinic Family: Developing Our Strengths and Embracing Our Challenges.

Some of the speakers included: President Richard M. and Dr. Esther Joel, Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander ‘86R, Rabbi Yaakov Glasser ‘01R, Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, Rabbi Ari Sytner, Rabbi Menachem Penner ‘95R, Rabbi Yaakov Neuburger ‘79R, Rabbi Ezra Schwartz ‘01R ‘07YY, Mrs. Peshi Neuburger, Mrs. Sharon Richter, Dr. David Pelcovitz, Mrs. Yocheved Schacter, Mrs. Michal Horowitz, Rabbi Zvi Gluck and Mrs. Suri Halpern.

Lecture and presentation topics varied greatly around the theme, a small sample of them being: Handle with Care: Rewards and Challenges for Rabbis’ Children- A panel discussion representing different stages of parenting, Leadership Challenges and Opportunities of Welcoming the Millennial Generation

Guidelines for Teaching Taharat Hamishpacha, Gay and Lesbian Young Adults Looking for their Place in the Orthodox Community-  A panel discussion, Exploring the Limits and Possibilities of Orthodox Female Leadership, Financial Planning and managing for the Rabbinic Family, The Challenge of Communal Leadership – Embracing our Imperfections

Various organizations, including YU Connects, Project S.A.R.A.H.  Nefesh B’nefesh NechamaComfort, Shalom Task Force, Chai Lifeline Crisis management, ORA, and Project S.A.R.A.H. were present to consult with the rebbetzins.

Rebbetzin Rifki Freundlich, a participating rebbetzin on the conference shared her thoughts and reflections with us. Rifki grew up in West Orange, went to Stern, married, lived in Baltimore for a few years, and moved to Atlanta in 2001. With no intention of going into the rabbinate, her husband was recruited to start a boys high school, and later he became the associate rabbi in Congregation Beth Jacob under Rabbi Ilan Feldman, where they stayed for ten years. Rifki taught in the high school, and while she was there, Talia Gorsetman recommended she come to the Yarchie Kallah (YK) as a great way to reconnect with people from parts of her life from years before. It was from going to the YK, that she met Meira Davis, the prime organizer of the conference. Rifki noted that probably since she had been in graduate school this was the first time she had pushed her brain farther, that she went to shiurim on her level for the first time in a long time, that she had sat with women who were at the same stage as her and with women who been “in the business for years” to mentor her and share their insights. From reconnecting with more established rebbetzins, to shiurim from Rabbi Schachter and Rabbi Brander, to rediscovering Dr. Pelcovitz who gives so much wisdom with humor and insight, Rebbetzin Freundlich was able to walk away with real practical tips and tools for navigating challenging situations. She met new rebbetzins that she connected with from all over the country, and enjoyed the time as an oasis within a hectic and busy year. When her family moved to a different community and culture (Montreal, Canada), she noted that there was no question that her experiences at the conference- the network of support and the overall sense of being part of bigger community- gave her a sense of stability and security, especially when she was arriving in a new place. By now, she attends the conference knowing with whom she wants to engage regarding specific issues and how to maximize the experience while she is there.

She noted that Rebbetzin Meira Davis, the organizer of the YK, is such a powerhouse, and is so completely invested and devoted in educating and empowering the next generation of Rebbetzins. Her professionalism in organizing the conference is transcended only by her genuine care and concern for the journey of each and every individual Rebbetzin.

 

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