An inspirational morning was spent in Shevach High School during Aseres Y’mei T’shuvah, focused on the theme of “K’vakaras roeh edro.” Under the guidance of the Shevach Principal, Mrs. Shulamith Insel, and Yom Iyun Coordinator, Mrs. Debbie Meltzer, the Shevach seniors put their hearts and efforts into making sure this yom iyun would have an everlasting impact. And in the words of Shevach senior Rachel Mamanov, “I knew I was in for a motivational, emotional, yet exciting ride.”

The yom iyun heads Yael Itshakov, Adina Krikheli, Suri Meltzer, Chaya Praeger, Rachelli Sillman and Shaindel Faiga Stahler, did not disappoint. With the help of the entire senior class, they presented an uplifting choir, an amazing dance, an impactful video, and a beautiful banner. Every student also received a booklet with interesting articles and quotes, all clearly portraying the important message of the theme: that HaKadosh Baruch Hu cares about and treats each individual with chesed and rachamim, always doing what is best for us, even if we do not understand His decisions. The students then met in smaller groups with teachers, and lively discussions ensued, driving home the reality of individual and communal judgment at this very serious time.

The students were then treated to the highlight of the day, an address by Rabbi Benzion Klatzko, an accomplished speaker, who never fails to inspire the Shevach girls. He held everyone’s attention as he spoke about difficult times that his own family has experienced and how he dealt with it. He quoted Rav Wolbe in connection with what Judaism really is. “Judaism is a relationship,” he said. “The connection between the individual and Hashem is what defines us. It is our goal to get closer to Hashem. We are judged by what we want to do next year and what we want to be. That should be our focus during these days of Elul and Tishrei,” he said.

As one student stated, “His words pierced my heart as it shook awareness in me and brought myself to introspection and deep thoughts. The misconception of only viewing the Yamim Nora’im as days of life-or-death judgment is not how HaKadosh Baruch Hu wants us to think of it. Rather, as Rabbi Klatzko explains, this is a time to cultivate a relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu.”

It has been a difficult year, both in Eretz Yisrael and here in the United States. We cope by recognizing and underscoring the chesed and rachamim of Hashem towards each of us. Rabbi Klatzko left the students with much to think about. Through introspection and appreciation of what we have, we can grow to be what we want to be and what we should be.

By all accounts, the yom iyun achieved its goal. In the words of Rachel Mamanov, “The enjoyable program, captivating workshops, and amazing speaker made this yom iyun an unforgettable one. But what I love most about yom iyun is that the inspirational event doesn’t just set me up with motivation for Yom Kippur, but for the rest of the new year.”

 By Rabbi Benzion Klatzko