As the days get shorter and the nights longer, people often feel a need to “get away from it all.” While trips to the Caribbean are not always possible, it is possible to have more light and less darkness without leaving Pittsburgh, albeit a spiritual light. With that in mind, Jewish women from around the region will attend the N’shei Ubnos Chabad Winter Convention Retreat — the retreat’s theme is “Step into the Light” — at the
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Pittsburgh-Green Tree between Dec. 12 and 14.
Organized by the N’Shei Chabad, the Lubavitch Women’s Organization, the winter convention presents three days of inspiration and fun for Jewish women of all ages and persuasions. Chani Rosenblum, one of the three organizers of the convention, describes it as “a time to rejuvenate our feminine batteries so we can conquer the world in a positive way.” She explains that “the convention offers something on every level: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.” She points out that though the purpose is to “unite and inspire women,” it is not all serious. “We have fun, we relax, we laugh, and we have a good time.”
The event covers Friday, Shabbat, a post-Shabbat melava malka and Sunday. Each day includes kosher meals and a variety of activities for each time slot. The Friday, Shabbat and Sunday events will be held in the DoubleTree Hotel; the melava malka, a tribute to the late communal leader Keny Deren, will be at the Lubavitch Center in Squirrel Hill with transportation provided to and from the hotel.
Deren’s daughter, conference organizer Blumi Rosenfeld, believes that “it is auspicious that the convention is being held here, during my year of mourning. My mother was the keynote speaker at the first N’shei Chabad Women’s Convention held in New York 53 years ago. I remember the excitement in my home at the time.” After that event, Deren spoke at many other women’s conventions and was instrumental in their growth.
Her husband, Rabbi Yisroel Rosenfeld, leader of the Lubavitch community of southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia, feels honored that Pittsburgh is hosting this event.
“The women’s convention is something that was very dear to the Rebbe,” he said, referring to the late Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson. “[I am] proud at how the community has rallied around this event: the unity of everyone contributing their talents and coming together to make this happen.”
The N’shei Chabad mid-winter convention, held in many locations all over the U.S. and Canada, first began 53 years ago. The convention has been in Pittsburgh twice before: 40 years ago, and 22 years ago. This year, more than 100 women are involved in organizing it, and local talent will be on display, including such speakers and teachers as Leah Herman, Lieba Rudolph, Leah-Perl Shollar, Batsheva Williamson and Nami Friedman. Amy Guterson, a film director, actress and founder and director of the Tzohar Seminary for Chassidus and the Arts, will give a talk on “Creativity is Spirituality.”
In addition to locals, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Jacobson, a scholar in Jewish mysticism, and Rabbi Manis Friedman, a counselor, lecturer, author and philosopher who has his own cable television series, will lead sessions. The keynote speaker, Rivki Hazan, serves as a Lubavitch emissary in Milan, Italy. (She is also the granddaughter of Yeshiva Schools founders Rabbi Sholom and Ida Posner.)
Rus Devorah Wallen, a psychotherapist, will teach about meditation, breathing and guided imagery techniques. Other speakers will include Miriam Grossman, a physician, author, and media commentator; Mirele Rosenberger, a freelance pianist, composer, arranger and conductor who was the music director for Ruthi Navon; and stress expert Dr. Bruce S. Rabin.
Leah Jacobs, one of the volunteers, stressed that there is something for every woman at the convention.
She pointed out that women are coming to Pittsburgh from all across the U.S. and Canada.
“If you go to the convention one time, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to go again,” said Jacobs, who has attended three such events.
For those who cannot commit to an entire weekend, there is an option to register for sessions. Reduced rates are also available.
For more information, go to ChabadWomensConvention.org, email ChabadWomensConvention@yahoo.com or call Leah Jacobs at 310-801-9230 during midday hours or Karen Leeds at 412-805-1526 during early evening hours.
Simone Shapiro can be reached at email@example.com.