| Teen Feature |

Joining Hands with Our Sisters around the World     

The story of Achoseinu


the sun majestically dips below the horizon every Friday night, the glow of candles fills each home with beauty and light. Shabbos spreads its blanket of peace over every home — and now you just want to relax. The days are full, and the couch beckons. And yet, a growing group of enterprising high school girls refuses to succumb to this weekly inertia. Mustering energy and enthusiasm, they march forward to lead groups of younger girls, teaching, inspiring, and guiding them in the halachos of shemiras halashon, ona’as devarim, and ahavas Yisrael.


Putting Down Roots

Five years ago, Mrs. Mimi Haskell was a student in a Lakewood seminary. A born teacher, Mimi had a strong desire to give and decided to form a Friday night shmiras halashon group for younger girls in her neighborhood.

“It gave me tremendous sipuk,” Mimi says. “Hashem gave me the ability and desire to teach, and I found it deeply satisfying.”

“Why stop there?” her aunt wondered. “Why not create groups all over Lakewood?”

Intrigued by the idea, Mimi roped in her friend Nechama B. and got to work. They reached out to the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation (CCHF), and with trademark enthusiasm, Mr. Rothschild and the CCHF offered support to help the program spread. With Mimi and Nechama at the helm and CCHF on board, Achoseinu was born.


The Early Days

“Accompanied by my aunt, we spoke in some local schools to recruit leaders. Thoughtful girls stepped up to be leaders, and we realized they needed materials. How could the girls teach without resources? So, Nechama and I found printed lessons on shemiras halashon and photocopied and distributed them to our new leaders,” explains Mimi. In short order, Mr. Rothschild hired the two girls to run the program under the auspices of CCHF.

During their second year, they expanded their efforts and went to speak in schools in the Five Towns and in other cities as well. They also spoke at a Mishmeres convention, which was a wonderful opportunity for publicity and recruiting leaders. Mishmeres, another innovative program spearheaded by the CCHF, is a monthly extracurricular program in high schools focused on speech, middos, and relationships. Eleventh and twelfth graders serve as Mishmeres heads, utilizing creative materials and projects to improve relationships between students.

The exponential and rapid growth of Achoseinu is breathtaking! In 2021, Achoseinu spanned many places across the world, including New Jersey, Wisconsin, New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Connecticut, California, Maryland, Canada, England, Austria, Vienna, and Brazil. Since then, even more cities have joined, and the ripples continue to spread.

“We have an amazing recruiter in Canada, Leahle K. Last year, she began a Yiddish version of Achoseinu, and we hope to continue that this year,” Mimi says. “It is a zechus and privilege to manage Achoseinu, and I’m grateful for the help of my wonderful secretary and sister, Gitty N. My other sister, Hindy, is also a huge help, bringing along friends each year to help us package mailings.”

Rave Reviews

It’s unanimous: The girls who attend Achoseinu meetings love every minute and come back week after week. The lessons are dynamic and fun, and they are pulled by the sense of achdus and the desire to be part of something vital and important. Why stay home on Friday nights when you can be part of Achoseinu?

At the end of the Achoseinu season, many leaders shared their feelings, giving us a glimpse into the far-reaching impact of Achoseinu. Here’s what some of them had to say:

“Nobody in my very small out-of-town community heard about this program before, and I thought it would be an amazing thing to share with the girls who live near me. I thought I would have five or six girls, so when nine girls showed up the first week, I was very happy! By the next week, I was up to 15 girls. The girls in my group were very happy to be part of Achoseinu, and they showed up every week with a smile.”

“It was a zechus to be part of Achoseinu. The girls took the lessons to heart and were eager to return every week. All the Friday nights were well spent.”

“Achoseinu brings warmth to winter Friday nights.”

“I would like to share some of the comments and thanks that I got from the girls who came every week. Before all the girls left at the end of the year, a third grader came up to me and personally thanked me two or three times. I thanked her for coming. Then, on her way out, she asked me for a song sheet and a Lecha Dodi card so she could pretend that she is at Achoseinu every Friday night even during the summer! Another girl came up to me in shul a few weeks after Achoseinu was over and told me that she loved all the stories and games, and she can’t wait for next year!”

“It’s wonderful that you give the girls something to learn on Friday night, and they really have a good time. I feel like I’ve gained so much from this amazing program. I feel honored to be part of such an awesome program that inspires young girls to be great!”

“I have enjoyed leading Achoseinu groups over the past few years and find that it adds meaning to my Leil Shabbos. The neighborhood girls come together with a real sense of achdus while working toward the goal of shemiras halashon. Not only are we learning and growing together, but we’re also enjoying our time and having fun!”

“I love Achoseinu because it’s a time when we ‘big kids’ can interact with younger girls and be a role model, teaching them through all the fun we have together.”

The big question is: Who gains the most, the girls or the leaders?

It’s a tough question that would be hard to resolve without the wisdom of Pirkei Avos.

“Mikol milamdai hiskalti umitalmidai yoser mikulam.” Apparently, the leaders who are giving of their time and resources benefit the most!


So, You Want to be an Achoseinu Leader

Mimi tries to speak in all the Lakewood high schools. She feels that often, when girls see a face behind a program, it motivates more people to sign up.

After the groups are formed at the beginning of the year, Achoseinu sends a packet to all leaders, including beautiful Lecha Dodi cards with the Achoseinu logo. In addition, there is a leader’s guide that covers all the material to be taught during the sessions, 15 lessons in all. This guide contains everything leaders need to run an Achoseinu Friday night group meeting. Inside, leaders will find the Achoseinu theme song and an attractive note to post in the neighborhood: lots of information, helpful tips about being an effective leader, and a step-by-step guide to a great Achoseinu meeting.

There is a weekly contest that every girl can join if they repeat that week’s halachah to their family. The girl can then call in to the Achoseinu contest line, and she will be entered into the weekly raffle.

Midway through the year, Mimi sends out a survey to each leader to see how the program is going and if they need any support or guidance. At the end of each year, leaders are treated to the Achoseinu Leaders’ Convention, a fantastic experience, joining the leaders together and motivating them to keep reaching higher with their girls.

As a bonus, throughout the year they also send the leaders perks as tokens of appreciation. One year, leaders received a CD with a beautiful song created by Chayala Neuhaus about Achoseinu. A different year, each leader received a sweatshirt. Last year, they sent special personalized mishloach manos to thank their recruiters, the many girls who worked hard to bring additional leaders on board.

When I express my awe at all these extra touches, Mimi explains. “When people are giving to the klal, appreciation means so much. Achoseinu wants our leaders to feel good about what they’re doing; they’re molding and transforming the next generation! Yes, the leaders are running these groups lishmah; the priceless opportunity is its own reward. But these little gifts of appreciation are geared to keep the sparks of their avodas hakodesh burning strong.”

So, how do you get involved in this incredible program? Girls can sign up to be leaders or recruiters. A recruiter receives an additional packet with posters and cards and uses her creativity to recruit leaders in her community. She will host parties, speak to groups, make phone calls, and do whatever she can to recruit more leaders.


Meeting Minutes

Achoseinu group meetings start ten to 15 minutes after lichtbentshen and run for about half an hour to 40 minutes. Leaders greet all girls personally and meetings start with Kabbalas Shabbos. Singing some parts out loud can enhance the davening experience, and many leaders choose to do so. Then it’s time for the exciting, inspiring Achoseinu program. The lesson includes a halachah, scenario, and discussion questions, a fun game or activity, a quick review, and a then a warm, friendly goodbye that keeps every girl smiling her whole way home.


Coming Full Circle

When Achoseinu first started, Mimi’s grandfather, Rabbi Kalman Krohn, was still alive. He was very supportive of the initiative, and generously sponsored Danishes for all the leaders who signed up that first year. Her grandfather was a very big proponent of shemiras halashon and promoting ahavas Yisrael. Years ago, Rav Yehuda Zev Segal ztz”l, the Manchester rosh yeshivah, encouraged Mimi’s grandfather to write a kitzur of the halachos of shemiras halashon. With the endorsement and support of Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky ztz”l, 200,000 copies of his kitzur were distributed around the world, and the sefer was reprinted close to 50 times. Largely due to the efforts of Rabbi Krohn, the shmiras halashon movement in America and worldwide began to grow and flourish. In fact, the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation started in Mimi’s grandparents’ house, and the first mailing of 13,000 envelopes was prepared and sent from their home!

“When my grandparents and parents saw me pursuing this avenue of shmiras halashon, they were very supportive and proud. The nachas I was giving my family gave me a strong impetus to keep going. After my grandfather’s petirah, the Achoseinu curriculum was dedicated to him, a fitting and loving tribute to his tzidkus and his vast accomplishments for the klal,” Mimi explains.

The curriculum was also dedicated to Rabbi Dovid Trenk ztz”l, another tzaddik who constantly used positivity and loving words to be mekarev Klal Yisrael. Mimi elaborates, “With an outpouring of love for all Hashem’s children, he was always building people up and telling them how beloved they are to Avinu shebaShamayim. Mrs. Kravitz, Rabbi Dovid Trenk’s daughter, worked with Achoseinu with tremendous dedication for a period of three years.” How fitting it is that the Achoseinu curriculum is a tribute to these two luminaries who lit the way for Klal Yisrael!


Challenges and Setbacks

Mimi doesn’t seem flustered at all when I ask her if there were challenges along the way. “Of course, we had challenges! Life comes with obstacles, and we definitely had our share. In our first year, there was no booklet for the leaders. We had 120 leaders and nothing to give them! Nechama and I quickly gathered materials and stapled them together at the last minute, sometimes staying up until three in the morning and then waking up at seven to make sure the job was done in time.”

There were other adventures. “Last year, baruch Hashem, I had a baby the week that the main mailing needed to go out. Of course, there was Covid too, and we experienced snags with the sweatshirts… But overall, despite the glitches, we have seen incredible siyata d’Shmaya, and the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation has been an incredible support,” says Mimi. With positivity and enthusiasm, CCHF promotes Achoseinu and helps them reach higher and higher. At this point, Achoseinu’s systems are in place, and it almost runs itself.


Join the Movement

The program officially starts on the first Friday night after we change the clocks, Shabbos Parshas Vayeira.

For more information on joining Achoseinu, please contact Teen Pages.


Follow Your Dreams

When I think back over the last five years, I am filled with wonder. How did it happen that something small became so big? How can one tiny seed become a verdant orchard?

Hashem gives everyone different strengths and talents. When people use their gifts, Hashem leads them to the right place.

I never dreamed that I would wind up working with the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation and that my small venture could become a huge enterprise. I learned that if you follow your path and do the right thing, life can take you to unimagined places. Who would have believed that a small neighborhood group could blossom into a worldwide initiative? So, girls, follow your dreams!





Making your way into a warmly lit room,

Where a circle of smiles await,

Instantly drawn in, as you pull up a chair,

To lessons and stories exchanged,

Food for thought all about the ins and the outs, of the

countless words each of us say,

Can’t you just picture it, what a world we would live in,

With this mission to display,

Knowing that our manner of speech

Has the ability to teach

And the power to reach a thirsting heart

Knowing that the words we choose to say,

Directly have a way

Of building someone up high or making them feel small

to watch it happen, it’s just a miracle

So here we are at…



Achoseinu- every week we receive this gift anew

Here at Achoseinu – you are learning with me, and I am

growing with you

And in this give and take, with new friends we make

We arm each other with courage and light

It happens here on Friday night, this little dream of

ours takes flight,

The world we picture’s not far out of sight,

It’s one where our words are used just right


If we could say goodbye to the put downs; so long

to the fear,

And farewell to the hurt hiding deep inside


And open the door for a better brighter way

Then we could sprinkle a rainbow of positive


Building and shining a spotlight revealing

Our strengths and beauty with every line we say….



Achoseinu- every week we receive this gift anew

Here at Achoseinu – you are learning with me, and I

am growing with you

And in this give and take, with new friends we make

We arm each other with courage and light

It happens here on Friday night, this little dream of

ours takes flight,

The world we picture’s not far out of sight,

It’s one where our words are used just right!


(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 936)

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