Tzipporah Prottas: “Hi there Chana’le! I am thrilled and privileged to be conducting this interview with you! It’s amazing that even though we are so far apart geographically, we can still get to know you, and connect through heart, mind, and soul. This is what JGU is all about, uniting girls from around the globe! What a bracha… I am really looking forward to this, and everyone at JGU is eager to hear a little bit about your life.”
What roles do you personally play as a young Shlucha (Chabad emissary) in your family’s Shanghai Chabad House? Do you have any interesting stories that you’d like to share?
Chana’le Greenberg: Hi! First, I would like to just share a few things about our community:
Our community in Shanghai is not a community made up of Chinese Jews; rather, the people in the community are travelling to China for business for 1-4 years. We have three Chabad houses in Shanghai, which means three families of Shluchim (emissaries), too.
Here are a few stories illustrating one role my siblings and I have:
Once there was a family here with a boy who was my older brother’s age. They later moved back home, but the father came back once for a business trip. He told my father that when they walked back from shul (synagogue) on Shabbos, his son did not want to take off his kippa (skullcap). When this father asked him why he did not take it off, he replied “Because Levik (my brother) never took off his kippa!” We sometimes make such an impact on people, even if we do not realize it! At my Bas Mitzvah party, I explained the three Mitzvos (commandments) of Jewish women: Challah, Nidah (Mikvah) and Hadlakat Neirot (candle lighting), and this was the theme of the evening. If you noticed, the acronym of those words, is Chana/חנה, my name. During this evening, women became inspired to actually do these Mitzvos. At my older sister’s Bas Mitzvah, we had a candle lighting ceremony, and someone told us that she started lighting Shabbos Candles after that.
These are just a few of so many more stories!
T.P.: What is one way in which you’ve benefited and grown from being on Shlichus, and one way in which you have grown from being part of your particular community? What do you think is the most difficult aspect or challenge to overcome?
C.G.: I definitely benefit from growing up on Shlichus. For a cute example, since our online school starts in the afternoon, (see Q. 3) I teach the kindergarten class for a few hours per week in our preschool. As a teacher now, I’ve learned how to handle 5 year olds!
We all have challenges. Some are easier to overcome, and some are a little harder. But I grew up with the lesson that for each challenge that Hashem, G-d, gives you, He’ll give you the strength to overcome it. I really feel that it’s the same way with our Shlichus.
When we start our day, let’s say by breakfast, there’s no cow’s milk to pour into our cereal! There is no Kosher cow’s milk in Shanghai, so we don’t usually have dairy unless someone is nice enough to bring a bag of cheese in his suitcase. That also means no chocolate for dessert! But we have other things instead, like rice milk, almond milk and soy milk, that are also very tasty. I personally happen to be sensitive to dairy, so that also good for me; whenever I come to the U.S. I usually get a stomachache from all those yummy dairy things. 😉
T.P.: Could you please give us a peek into the daily life of your family’s Chabad House, and your adventures?
C.G.: We start in the morning with a Minyan (prayer quorum) and we also have a Minyan for Ma’ariv (the evening prayer), thank G-d. After that, we have a restaurant that’s open all day. Sometimes people even just pop in to say hello to the Rabbi (my father). We also have a preschool for the Jewish kids around here, starting from 10 months to 5 years old.
That’s our morning! Like I said earlier, we are three Chabad families total, each in another section of Shanghai, and we all have kids a little older than preschool age. Since there is no Jewish School in Shanghai, we homeschool, but in the style of a classroom, and we call it Cheider (a traditional Jewish elementary school). We have online school in the afternoon, which is a live class. I’m in 7th grade and have quite a few teachers and 18 classmates ka”h. (See photo below.) In order to accommodate all time zones, there are a few “schools”. There is one in the U.S. on both the Eastern time zone and Western time zone. Then there’s one for the rest of the world, like China, Russia, Germany, Ukraine, and so many more countries; if they would try going on one of the U.S. time zones, it would be crazy hours! So we have another school in a European time zone, one in Hebrew and one in English, as some Chabad families speak either language at home.
As I’m in China, in Asia, online school starts in the afternoon, so we do Cheider for the kids in the morning, and I keep myself busy by helping in the preschool, teaching one of the classes, etc.
On Shabbos, my father gives shiurim (classes), and learns with people during the week.
We also have Shabbos meals with around 20-100 people every Friday, but on Shabbos day, usually less. We do a “Shabbos party” with the kids who come (which I sometimes lead). We have holiday programs as well, like we make a big Chanukah party and a Purim party. We also have a beautiful Mikva (ritual bath).
T.P.: What are some of your hobbies and interests?
C.G.: I love to read, play guitar, and teach my preschool class. I love to take pictures with people’s phone’s. I love to do projects, like duct tape, crochet, origami.
T.P.: Who is a role model for you?
C.G.: My mother! She does everything, from planning meals, to making programs for kids on Yomim Tovim, to being a mother of 7 kids (ka”h!), and she’s someone I definitely want to be like when I grow up.
We also bring women right out of seminary each year, to help my parents.. I really look up to them as well. One young woman who came last year stayed in touch so much, that now we learn together daily!
T.P.: We heard that you have recently become Bas Mitzvah; Mazal Tov from everyone at JGU on reaching this incredible milestone! As you turn the page to this new chapter of life as a Jewish woman…what are some of your personal goals, hopes, dreams or visions for the future?
C.G.: Thank you for your kind wishes! My personal goals, hopes and dreams are to be a Shlucha of the Lubavitcher Rebbe! And best of all, to bring Moshiach (Messiah) NOW!!!
Here is a picture of our family. (Yup, that’s me all the way to the left!)