Mrs. Gerson was concerned. Her daughter, who had been in Mesores Rochel seminary in Yerushalayim, was coming back home to Cleveland. It had been an amazing year for her. A year of incredible inspiration, of spiritual growth and introspection. But now she would be leaving Eretz Yisrael and returning to America. What could be done to ensure that, though she would be leaving the land of kedushah, she would be able to maintain within her the kedushah that she had acquired in the last 10 months?
Unlike many of us who worry, sigh and then move on, Mrs. Gerson decided she had to do something. She realized that Cleveland is blessed with some very talented, articulate speakers, a resource which Mrs. Gerson was determined to tap into. She contacted them and discovered that they were very interested in helping her turn her dream into reality. She began assembling a team of orators who would each take a turn at the podium in a weekly rotation, each one in their own way carrying on the momentum that had been initiated for the girls in their year in seminary.
The project would be called Ohel Imahos, for that in essence was what she was creating – an ohel – a protection for the future Imahos of Klal Yisrael. But how to get the girls excited about this venture? Mrs. Gerson compiled a list of all the girls who had just returned from seminary and mailed them an invitation inviting them to a free orientation night, sparking their interest at a time when they were thirsty for a connection to something that was still so fresh in their minds and hearts.
And the girls came, eager to hear how they could reinforce what they had discovered in their year abroad. At the orientation, while enjoying pastries and catching up with their friends, the speaker that night presented the mission statement of Ohel Imahos – a program designed specifically for the girls with topics relevant to the girls, ideas they could take with them each day as they faced the struggles and challenges of the workplace, shidduchim, and interpersonal relationships.
The girls were given calendars which detailed the speakers and the topics for the shiurim of the coming month, something that ignited their interest even more. They were told that the speaker would address the topic for 45 minutes, and would then open the floor to give the girls a chance to voice their own concerns and questions about the topic that had been addressed. Being told beforehand what the topic of the evening would be, accomplished two objectives. It drew in a crowd of girls who were interested in hearing more about that specific topic and it gave the girls an opportunity to prepare questions on issues relating to that topic.
Ohel Imahos was a success! The girls loved every shiur and kept coming back for more.
And then, two years after Ohel Imahos had begun, Rebbetzin Fink called Mrs. Gerson. Lechu V’Nelcha had the same mission statement as Ohel Imahos and was linking up with similar programs world-wide. The goal? To create a network of girls with the same dream –continuing to be inspired to use the lessons that they had heard in seminary to create stepping stones towards becoming better people and ultimately better servants of the Ribbono shel Olam.
And so Ohel Imahos became another beautiful branch in the tree of spiritual growth that is called Lechu V’Nelcha.