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by Rhonda Spivak, February 14, 2011

Winnipeg’s Maxim Berent, who is the president of Hillel, was one of 20 male Jewish students from North America who attended a Conference in New York put on by Aish Hatorah for four days from December 19 to 23 (A separate program was held for female students at the a same time but different location).
According to Berent, “Most of the students attending this program were conservative Jews, but the program itself was built by a more religious community (Orthodox). “
Berent said that at the outset he “didn’t know exactly what to expect”, but he believes that that the program was “ an outstanding success” and “students left the program with a very good feeling and unbreakable friendship with Jews from different levels of observance.”  
 Berent said that the learning sessions were interesting and the environment was welcoming: 
“We explored Torah learning in an environment that is warm, non-judgmental and intellectually stimulating.  The classes covered different topics in Judaism and Jewish philosophy of Life, such as “How to define happiness?” ,  “What is the difference between happiness and pleasure”, understanding life settings, the "5 levels of pleasure",  and the Jewish view on love and relationships…”
The group learned with Rabbi Naftali Rich [ Executive Director of Ohr Somayach Yeshiva in Monsey NY], and Rabbi Bentzion Shafier , director of TheShmuz.
Berent highly recommended The Shmuz website at . Additionally,  Berent noted that Rabbi Shafier gave out  his new book “Stop Surviving Start Living.”
The group also learned with Rabbi Dave Markowitz, a young rabbi “ that is very well recognized among many Jewish students around the world,” as well as others such as  Rav Shmuel Skaist, “one of the top Hasidic musicians”, and Rabbi Yitzchak Feldheim, “ an amazing Jewish scholar.”
In addition to the learning sessions there were  social activities suc as, “skiing and snowboarding on two different mountains just outside NYC, Ice climbing in New Paltz, ice skating, snow tubing, going to an Orthodox Jewish Wedding and volunteering with the community at Tomchei Shabbos.”
The group  got a chance to meet with the Jewish community in Monsey NY, and with the executive director of Ohr Somayach Yeshiva, where they stayed.
“We celebrated Shabbat at his house with many Jewish community leaders,” said Berent.
The group bonded by experiencing “learning, singing, dancing, having fun, and meeting new people." ” 
Berent noted that “One of the head rabbis told me that “Every Jew is a Tzadik” (a righteous man)...I believe that every Jewish student has a unique spark, a fire inside them, that needs to be discovered and enrich the world around us.”
Berent added that “The trip offered us the chance to learn something that our daily university can’t teach--to take a moment and look into your own Neshama (soul), define yourself and understand who you are as a Jew, and to find the happiness in your life and enjoy it as much as possible.”
When asked what made him decide to go to the Conference in the first place, Berent said, “As the Hillel President, I always look and do research to find more Jewish learning opportunities for students and get out there. Now, after creating the connection between Winnipeg and Aish NY, we will be sending more students to be part of the amazing programs that Aish is offering…”
Also, Berent, who is the Vice President of the Jewish Business Network in Winnipeg, said, "We will be working on business internships with Aish and provide networking  opportunities for Jewish Business students from Winnipeg to New York.”

Berent said that the program itself, which was “sophisticated and well-organized” was only $200.00, in addition to his airfare. However, he added, “Every graduate student form this program will be going to Israel this summer for 6 weeks at no charge (even the flight is covered) and doing a program with Aish.”

 Aish Connections  is offering this summer FIVE trips chock full of awesome activities and exploring in NYC for Jewish college students.

Enterprize Trips (Perfect for business students)

Enterprize 2011 provides you with the exclusive opportunity to meet some of the most powerful Jewish executives and entrepreneurs in New York City. Find out the secrets to their successes, develop your networking skills and gain practical business experience to kick-start your career. You could even win an internship with an international business mogul in New York City. 


Theatre, music, history, art, cultural diversity, shops, unbelievable nightlife - New York City has it all!
ravel to New York City in August and live it up on our amazing ride through this incredible city, hitting up all the famous hotspots including Times Square, the Empire State Building, Fifth Avenue, Soho and the Lower East Side. Plus the opportunity for some fun celeb-spotting (it's New York, after all!) with the great new friends you will make on the trip.
Don't miss our action-packed adventure in this magical city.

Xtreme Trip

Unleash your inner daredevil! Push your boundaries on sea, land and air with extreme sport activities this summer. From jumping out of planes to speeding down mountains, this trip will get your adrenaline pumping!! But don't worry, you will also get a chance to unwind with the friends that you will make on the trip, see the sights and get into the vibe of New York City, experiencing its bustling streets and vibrant nightlife.
Activities such as: Skydiving, Zip lining, Paintball, Boot camp, Mountain biking.


Want to learn more about what really goes on in Israel? Come see where the decisions are made and meet the people that make them! Spend your days in Washington and New York and get exclusive access to

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.