Michlelet teens with the bride.
In July, 97 Michlelet girls from all over North America worked together in Israel to organize a bridal shower and a wedding for a bride whose own family was unable to do so. They only met the bride for the first time just 10 days before the wedding.
This was a true act of chesed, loving-kindness, which is what Michlelet is all about. The program incorporates interactive Torah learning, chesed and tiyulim (field trips) around Israel. But that’s not what makes it unique.
Michlelet is one of the 11 NCSY summer programs in Israel sponsored by the Orthodox Union. NCSY is the international youth movement of the Orthodox Union.
What these girls accomplished by organizing a wedding is impressive. No doubt about it. But even more impressive is the fact that the guests had no idea that these North American girls at the wedding were actually doing this as an act of chesed. And the girls didn’t say a word.
Now that’s impressive.
“In the Shacharit prayers every morning we say, “These are the things that have no prescribed measure, explains Rivka Yudin, director for the past eight years of Michlelet. “One of these is ‘providing for a bride.’ This may be the only time in their lives that these girls will truly be involved in helping provide for a bride.”
Rivka Yudin, director of NCSY Michlelet
The funding for the wedding came from contributions, Mrs. Yudin said. As for choosing the bride to assist, this was based on recommendations which she verified before the girls arrived for the summer. In this case, the bride had lost her father as a child.
Bride and groom under the chuppah.
Before the wedding there was the bridal shower. “We worked with girls from a TJJ (The Jerusalem Journey) group,” (another NCSY summer program in Israel) says Aliza Hirsch, 16, from Woodmere, N.Y. (Stella K. Abraham High School in Hewlett Bay Park, N.Y.) “I’ll never forget the smile on the kallah’s (bride’s) face when we gave her all the presents. On the wedding day, “We each had jobs to do and we saw how many details are involved in making a great wedding,” she says. “The teens did everything from cleaning the hall before the festivities to folding the tables and cleaning afterwards.”
“And they learned (Torah) in the morning,” Rivka Yudin points out.
“I helped make the table centerpieces and dished out the food for the meal,” says Adira Shiff, 15, from Toronto, Ontario (Academy C60, an alternative high school). “The kallah was so happy about everything we did for her. I really can’t describe her joy. I never thought teenage girls could do something like this,” she says.
Michlelet girls serve food and set the tables at the wedding hall as part of their volunteer work to “provide for the bride.”
“One of the amazing things is that some of these girls have never been involved in a wedding before,” Rivka says. “On one hand the girls are thrilled to be such an integral part of the wedding. They feel really empowered by everything they did for this kallah, even when they were working incredibly hard. “On the other hand the kallah never thought she’d have such a wonderful simcha.”
“Michlelet gave me an opportunity to come to Israel, to learn, to experience the land and to grow as a person in a totally new way,” says Kayla Libesman, 16, from Philadelphia (Kosloff Torah Academy).
“What’s special about Michlelet is that these girls come from every kind of background and they help create a program that is warm, accepting and non-judgmental. They learn what Ahavat Yisrael (love of the Jewish people) really is,” Rivka Yudin says.
Rejoicing with the bride and groom after the chuppah.
At the wedding, the joy on the faces of the Michlelet girls was genuine. North American teenagers had a life-changing experience making a wedding for an almost total stranger in Israel.
“Even though they barely knew her, they sang for her, they danced for her and they made this wedding for her because she’s a fellow Jew,” Mrs. Yudin declared. “The kallah actually gave the girls a chance to feel amazing about what they did for her.” What did they do? “The girls really made a magnificent wedding.”
Talk about chesed!
Now this is how Michlelet is unique.
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