500 Chabad boys and girls from across the West Coast participated in the first children’s convention with davening, meals, lectures and even a concert.
Monika Lightstone Photography
It was a well-planned, well-executed effort and made a deep impact on all of its many participants. If you ask the organizers, they will say it was well worth it.
The Unzere Kinder Convention, perhaps the first children’s-only Chabad conference, took place this past Shabbos in Los Angeles with over 500 boys and girls under Bar and Bas Mitzvah ages.
They drove and flew in from as far as from Phoenix, Arizona, Thousand Oaks, California, San Diego, California, and another 26 small cities around California and the West Coast.
It took detailed planning and capable coordination to pull off the weekend, setting children up in local homes, and arranging shuls and halls to host the programs and catered meals.
“We know this was not an easy task,” wrote one father. “To organize, supervise, feed, entertain, so many children and have it done so well was only due to your tremendous dedication and care. We are truly appreciative and we are sure we speak for many.”
The organizers were Rabbi Mendel and Rochel Duchman, founders of the Kol Yaakov Yehuda junior congregation, joined by rabbis, shluchim and dedicated members of the Los Angeles Chabad community.
The convention began before Shabbos with various lectures and workshops focusing on increasing the children’s commitment to Torah and Mitzvos and strengthening their connection with the Rebbe.
Children heard from Joseph Herzog of the Herzog Winery about “The Kedusha of Wine.” Rabbi Levi Eisenberg presented “The 3 Traits of Highly Successful Kids” and Rabbi Levi Raichik spoke about chesed.
The guest of the Shabbos was Rabbi Shimmy Weinbaum, program director of Tzivos Hashem International, who together with his wife inspired the attendees with his energy, stories he shared and his lecture titled “A Tale of Two Souls; One’s Struggle with his Yeter Harah.”
Head Counselor for the boys was R’ Arye Perlstein, former Head Counselor of Camp Gan Israel of Florida, who flew in specially from Montreal.
Head Counselor for the girls division was Mrs. Srula Chaiton, Coordinator of the Convention and Youth Director of the Ezras Noshim.
The convention ended on a high note when the over 500 participants began singing and dancing to the music of the 8th Day Band led by brothers Shmuly and Bentzi Marcus on Motzoei Shabbos at congregation Shaarei Tefillah.
“For some reason, my children were very hesitant to go but the entire car ride home they couldn’t stop telling about how great and energetic the entire shabbos was and how much they enjoyed,” wrote one father.
“Thank you very much for arranging such a beautiful, meaningful, and fun Shabbos for our children,” another wrote. “They came home and shared with us what an amazing time they had, and how well the program was run.
“Wishing you much energy and good health to continue on your Shlichus in helping to raise the next generation of chassidishe children.”
Rabbi Duchman thanked the rabbis, directors, staff and volunteers of Kol Avraham, Bais Betzalel, Chabad of SOLA, Shaarei Tefillah, Hebrew Academy of Long Beach, Congregation Levi Yitzchok-Chabad of Hancock Park, Conejo Jewish Day School, Cheder Menachem in Los Angeles, JETS vocational school and the Hebrew academy of S. Diego.
He also mentioned the dozens of families in the Hancock park neighborhood “who have devotedly worked in the last few weeks to prepare for this massive shabbaton and who opened their homes to welcome the kinderlach.”
Monika Lightstone Photography