The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
The Yishuv community of Hashmonaim and Yeshivat Bnei Akiva “Ner Tamid” recently celebrated a beautiful Chanukat Habayit dedication of a million-dollar Beit Midrash.
The building was erected thanks to the donation of Mr. Jack Fink of New York, who shortly before his death donated the funds in memory of his family, many of whom were murdered
in the Holocaust. Marvin and Dassy Bienenfeld, dear friends of the late Mr. Fink, who were instrumental in obtaining the donation for the yeshiva, flew to Israel especially for the
In the weeks prior to the dedication, three exciting events took place. The Yeshiva’s Sefer Torah was moved with song and dance to the Beit Midrash to be used for daily prayers by the
students. The grandparents of the students were invited for a evening of learning with their grandsons, and all of the community’s nursery and elementary school children were invited to dedicate the building in their own way with songs, dancing and drawings.
The formal dedication began with a shiur by Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein, the noted son-in-law of “The Rav” (Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, zt”l), on “Hilchos Beit Hamidrash”. The yeshiva is
named for “The Rav,” with “TaMID” being an acronym for “Torat Moreinu Yosef Dov”.
After the shiur and Maariv, more than 500 people stood around the door as Mr. Marvin Bienenfeld, chairman of American Friends of Yeshivot Bnei Akiva, was honored with the blessing and affixing of the mezuzah on the main entrance. Elchanan Glatt, the director of Mercaz Yeshivot Bnei Akiva, was honored with the blessing and affixing of the mezuzah on
the second main doorway. Rabbi and Mrs. Marans, members of the Finkelstein family, were honored with the removal of the covering of the beautiful glass memorial plaque. I, as a member of the Yeshiva executive committee, was honored with the recital of Tehillim, “Mizmor Shir Chanukat Habayit,” which was the theme of the evening.
Several Yeshiva and community leaders greeted the participants. Rabbi Chaim Druckman, Chairman of Mercaz Yeshivot Bnei Akiva, hailed the dedication as a national event.
He praised Marvin Bienenfeld for guiding Jack Fink toward helping Yeshivot Bnei Akiva and he praised Mr. Fink for his vision. Despite his residence in the USA, Mr. Fink realized the
importance of supporting yeshivot in Eretz Yisrael.
Rabbi Itamar Auerbach, Rabbi of Hashmonaim, was one of the first with the vision of establishing a yeshiva in the community. He explained that the Beit Midrash has to be like a
second home to the students in order for it to require a mezuzah. He related the story of a visit with his students to a Kibbutz Holocaust museum. When the student asked if there was a Beit Knesset in the community, the local guide exclaimed, “we do not pray to the One who caused the death of a million children!” Rabbi Auerbach later explained to his students that the Nazis (Y”S) had wanted to uproot Judaism and in that Kibbutz they had succeeded. Fortunately, in
Hashmonaim, the Nazis have failed and this Beit Midrash, built with the help of a man who had lost most of his family in the Holocaust, is the symbol that Judaism continues to grow
Rabbi Aharon Adler, the Rosh Yeshiva of “Ner Tamid” thanked Rabbi Auerbach for convincing him to leave several positions in Jerusalem to become the Rosh Yeshiva. He praised Rav Yoni Berlin, the principal, and the excellent yeshiva staff for their dedication. He spoke of the uniqueness of the Yeshiva that blends the Torah of Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Kook and also strives to be a second home to all of its students.
Rabbi Tzvi Marans spoke for the family. He described his cousin, Jack Fink, and told some of his history. Mr. Fink was not religious but he loved Israel and Torah. He spoke Hebrew
and gave a great deal of charity. He swore that he would avenge the murder of the family by building Yeshivot Bnei Akiva. He was buried in Har HaTzofim two years ago. Rabbi
Marans thanked Marvin Bienenfeld for befriending his cousin Jack and for his efforts in building the Beit Midrash.
Shimshon Mehudar, the local council chairman, spoke of the importance of the yeshiva to the community. He spoke of the unique blend of Rabbi Akiva, Rav Kook and Rav Soloveitchik and how the yeshiva takes important elements from each and uses the ideas to teach values to its students. “The community is blessed to have the yeshiva in its midst.”
Ron Charadi, a “Ner Tamid” graduate, returned for the dedication, as did many of his fellow graduates. He spoke of how the yeshiva made the students feel part of the family and
he congratulated the yeshiva on its beautiful new building.
Rabbi Yoni Berlin, the yeshiva principal, served as the moderator of the evening and beautifully wove the Tehillim – Mizmor Shir Chanukat Habayit – into each introduction. In
his thanks to those who helped build the Beit HaMidrash he included, the foreign contributors, the chairman of the Moetza Education Committee, Rabbi Libi, the board of directors,
Elchanan Glatt and Yeshivot Bnei Akiva and Chana Sabato, the women behind the Yeshiva. Now that the Beit HaMidrash is dedicated, the yeshiva is searching for a director of
development to help raise funds to finish the two other floors of the building, to construct a classroom building and to finance dormitories.
The evening ended with a beautiful video presentation showing recent yeshiva activities and spirited dancing late into the night. It was a lovely dedication.
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As for the president’s new, softer tone vis-à-vis Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel, this is most likely being driven by the results of the recent Israeli election.
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There was something else of great importance in play – something we would have liked to see him take into account before deciding to stand with the boycotters.
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