Sunday, January 07, 2007

Neshei Chabad retreat aimed at all Jewish women

Blumah Wineberg said that more than 50 years ago the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the late Rabbi Menachem M. Schneersohn, had the foresight to create the Lubavitch Woman's Organization known as Neshei U'bnos Chabad.
The Rebbe maintained that women share the obligation to study and master the esoteric "soul" of Torah and thereby achieve knowledge, love and awe of God.
"At that point, he felt that women had tremendous power and ability to bring about change and have tremendous strength to tap into that for spiritual and physical well-being," Wineberg said.
Wineberg, who serves as director of the local Neshei Chabad, said the national organization is still trying to nourish the souls of Jewish women. It will do so next week at its 45th annual Neshei U'bnos Chabad Convention, which will be held in Kansas City Friday through Sunday, Jan. 12-14, at the Hilton Airport Hotel. The weekend's theme is "A Spa for the Body, Mind and Soul." Similar conventions are also held in Europe, Israel and South America.
Sherrill Parkhurst, one of the convention's organizers, said the planning committee comprised of about 32 local women hopes about 200 women will attend the event. So far, registrations have come in from at least 10 states and Canada. They have been planning the convention for about a year, and one of its goals has been to make sure it appeals to all Jewish women.
Indeed, women from all walks of Jewish life - including those who are involved with the Jewish Federation, the Jewish Community Center and several congregations and other women's groups -have taken part in some aspect of planning the event.
"This has brought together women from all over the community who have become new friends, who are now socializing together, sharing Shabboses together in each other's homes. ... I think that's what is so special about this convention," Parkhurst said.
Wineberg pointed out that college-age women are welcome, as well. The Chabad Jewish Center at KU and the Capital District, KU Hillel and the University of Missouri-Kansas City have been promoting the event to their constituents.
The variety of women participating in the convention accurately reflects the national organization, Wineberg said.
"Neshei Chabad reaches out to all Jewish women all over the country and all over the world. In many communities, as in our community, these women are doctors and lawyers and psychologists and homemakers. They all want to know what Jewish spirituality has for them. This is offering them the opportunity to bond and to immerse themselves spiritually with others who are also in the same place," Wineberg said.
Realizing that many women can't commit to a full weekend of activities, Wineberg said that arrangements could be made to attend certain parts of the convention. Cost for the entire weekend is $395. The cost to attend Friday's welcome luncheon in memory of Sherry Kaplan is $36. And it's $100 to attend the workshops, boutique and banquet from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

"We have a tremendously beautiful menu for the mind planned," Wineberg said.
Internationally acclaimed speakers (See box) will be featured throughout the weekend. One is Kabbalah expert Rabbi Yossi Jacobson, who is often booked a year to 18 months in advance.
"He (Rabbi Jacobson) is brilliant and delightful," Wineberg said.
Kansas City's own Rabbi Sholom Wineberg, Blumah's husband and founder of the local Chabad House 36 years ago, is another of the acclaimed speakers. He will discuss "The Rebbe's holistic approach to good health." Rabbi Wineberg has authored more than 25 books. He and Blumah Wineberg have been married for 38 years.
"The people of Kansas City really don't know what is here among them," said Parkhurst. "Rabbi Wineberg is very well known all across the country, but Rabbi Wineberg is so modest and always credits his writings to the Rebbe. I can't tell you the people who are in awe around the country when they hear I know Rabbi Wineberg."
Blumah Wineberg said many local participants are excited to hear once again from Sarah Karmely, who visited Kansas City about a year ago for Neshei Chabad's Mikveh Chanah. She is an expert in the laws of family purity and will be presenting a two-hour workshop on them.
Wineberg is also excited to welcome Esther Piekarski, a relationship specialist from Tel Aviv.
"We felt very strongly about having an Israel connection," Wineberg said.
Wineberg's sister, Devorah Alevsky, a Chabad emissary in Cleveland, is also scheduled to speak. She will take part in a three-woman symposium along with Piekarski and Shaindy Jacobson discussing "Breadwinner, Homemaker, Peacemaker - You can do it all - or can you?!?"
As for caring for the soul, Parkhurst points out, "The convention takes place over Shabbos, which is a very soulful time."

Subhead: Feeding the body

Wineberg said all food at the convention would be glatt kosher and prepared by New York chef Ben Zion Turk.
"He prepares the most amazing gourmet food," Wineberg said. "It would be worth coming to the convention for the exquisite kosher cuisine. His presentation is stunning."
She said the committee wanted participants to feel nurtured while at the convention, because women are always giving of themselves. Spa offerings including Pilates, yoga, manicures, facials, massages and swimming.
"These will be interspersed with the educational aspects of the programs," Wineberg said.
Participants can also visit a boutique on Sunday that features local and out-of-town vendors.
"We'll have a full array of Judaica and books," Wineberg said.
For more information about the Neshei U'bnos Chabad Convention, call Wineberg at (913) 649-6736, Parkhurst at (913) 663-5460, or e-mail Registration is available online at

Convention features well-known speakers

Neshei U'bnos Chabad Convention Jan. 12-14 at the Hilton Airport will feature internationally acclaimed speakers. They include:

* Sarah Karmely is a professional counselor and international lecturer on marital relations and other women's issues. She has published numerous articles and just recently published a book, "Words to Hear with Your Heart." Karmely has been the director of Sha'arei Tova Talmud Torah for the last 15 years and is co-editor of Shalom magazine, a bi-lingual outreach publication.

* Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg, director of Kansas City's Chabad House, has written more than 25 books on Jewish mysticism, Torah and marriage. His newest three-volume work is titled "Healthy in Mind Body and Spirit."

* Hensha Gansbourg will reveal why a successful graphic artist traded her secular upper-class lifestyle for the Chassidic world of Crown Heights, a story first chronicled in the best seller "Holy Days - The World of the Chassidic Family," by Liz Harris.

* Rabbi Yosef Y. Jacobson is a world-renowned expert on Kabbalah and Chassidut. He will be featured throughout the weekend teaching classes on Tanya, the seminal book of Chabad Chassidut. He is the author of the acclaimed tape series, "A Tale of Two Souls" and "Captain, My Captain," and teaches Kabbalah, Chassidic spirituality and Talmud at the Rabbinical College Chovevay Torah in Brooklyn, N.Y.

* Esther Piekarski is considered one of the foremost relationship experts in Israel. She lectures throughout the world and will be available during the weekend as a lecturer and for private consultation.

* Devorah Alevsky is one of the creators of a series of Rosh Chodesh women's groups and the Inner Visions Kabbalah workshop. Her topics include the significance of the three special mitzvot of the Jewish woman; lighting candles, making challah and Taharat Hamispacha - family sanctity - as well as the origins of the wedding ceremony.

* Rivka Kotlarsky teaches at Bais Rivka High School in Brooklyn. She also teaches "Food for the Body and the Soul" at Chabad of Five Towns in Cedarhurst, N.Y., a class that includes study of the weekly Torah portion spiced with mystical interpretations and contemporary lessons.

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