One of the perks of spending last winter in West Palm Beach’s Century Village and its neighboring Aitz Chaim shul was that I got to know Avrohom “Abe” Lubinsky.
One Shabbos during Mussaf, the rabbi, Shlomo Goldstein, started his pulpit time by talking about Mr. Lubinsky and his role in trying to thwart further tragic desecration of our ancient burial site, Har Hazeisim, the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Goldstein turned over the pulpit to Mr. Lubinsky, and the Brooklyn businessman moved those in the packed shul by speaking passionately about the lack of security and ongoing vandalism against graves and visiting mourners.
So what led to his interest in the preservation of Har Hazeisim?
“About three years ago,” Abe related, “I heard a horrific report by Israel’s state controller on the neglect and abuse on Har Hazeisim and decided to do something about it. Since then funds have been raised to install a police station and security cameras.
“We need to install an additional one hundred cameras on the access roads, over and above the 142 we managed to get installed. We still have much work to do. Besides more cameras, we need more police, fencing and cleanup.
“We are now well known in the corridors of the Israeli government. We have had several Knesset sessions. Har Hazeisim is now pulsating through the veins of all circles of Israeli society. But we are still in need of funds to keep our organization going as there are many expenses to rebuild and provide security.”
I’m sure readers noticed those full-page advertisements that ran prior to last month’s meeting about the situation at the Brooklyn home of Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, rav of Agudas Yisroel Bais Binyomin. Avrohom chaired the even along with his brother Menachem, a prominent askan and the president of Lubicom.
A huge crowd packed the home and accompanying tent to show support and hear some well-known speakers including Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Rav Yakov Perlow, the Novominsker Rebbe; Rabbi David Lau, Ashkenazic chief rabbi of Israel; and Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America.
The audience understood the need to prevent Arabs from continuing to use our ancient burial ground as a garbage dump, breaking and reusing gravestones and hurling rocks at visiting mourners.
(For more information, visit the website of the organization Abe founded, the International Committee for the Preservation of Har Hazeitim, at www.saveharhazeitim.org.)
The more you can help, the more Abe can focus on baseball and the rest of the season. His love of the game began as a youngster and he can recall his first game at Yankee Stadium and seeing Mickey Mantle hit a home run.
The son of Holocaust survivors, Abe learned to play the game well and has earned a reputation as a top player in the summer Orthodox Baseball Bungalow League.
Last winter I coaxed Abe away from his holy duties of raising funds to come along with other shul baseball buddies to nearby Jupiter, where we watched the St. Louis Cardinals take batting practice.
While there, he checked the upcoming spring training schedule to see when his beloved Mets would play in Jupiter. We decided to make that game a foursome and brought our wives along.
It was a memorable day for all of us, relaxing in the warmth of the Florida sun. But it was special for Abe as he got Mets owner Fred Wilpon to sign a baseball and have his picture taken with him. Mr. Wilpon should know what a special fan the Mets have in this special man.
About the Author: Author, columnist, and public speaker Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years before working for a major league team and becoming the first Orthodox Jew to receive a World Series ring. His column appears the second week of each month and he can be reached in his suburban Detroit dugout at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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