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Chabad of Hendon Treks the Great Wall of China

Friday, 18 June, 2010 - 3:08 am

the trek (2).JPGIn a case of East meets West and South joins North, adventurers and spiritual-seekers from London, Israel and South Africa teamed up to take on the challenge of the Chabad of Hendon's Great Wall  of China trek.

Eleven participants, aged sixteen to seventy, flew to China to hike along the Great Wall. The Wall snakes over mountain tops and along cliffs through almost 4000 miles of varied and breathtaking landscape. The Chabad team got a taste of it by undertaking a four day hike.

Currently in its fifth year, the annual trek has seen Rabbi Dovid Katz, educational director of Chabad of Hendon, lead Jewish expeditions to exotic destinations such as Nepal, India, Tanzania and Peru. While Rabbi Ari Shishler of Chabad of Strathavon in Johannesburg, South Africa, joined Rabbi Katz for the second time, this time bringing some members of his own community.

“This trip,” Rabbi Katz explained, “unified Jews from around the world and the trek - Copy.JPGbrought together three Chabad communities: Hendon in London, Strathavon in Johannesburg and Beijing.”

Beginning each day with Morning prayers and a simple breakfast, the team headed off for the day’s hike. While sturdy and breathtaking in parts, the Wall is also crumbling in others, with endless stairways, some almost vertical.

Amidst the physical challenge of hiking along the Wall, there were also opportunities for reflection and learning. Along the way, the rabbis shared Chassidic insights, peppered with lessons from the Wall experience. The group held a ‘farbrengen’ (traditional Chassidic gathering) together with each person took on a resolution at the end of the hike.

Shabbat was spent at Chabad of Beijing, directed by London-born Rabbi Shimon Freundlich and his wife Dini. The hikers joined with over 200 guests from all over the world, including tourists, people on business, exchange students and local Jewish residents.

“Although the hikers travelled to see a foreign nation’s heritage,” said Rabbi Katz, “they returned with a renewed appreciation of their own heritage having witnessed the work of Chabad emissaries in a far-flung Jewish community.”


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