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December 23, 2014 / 1 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Am Yisrael Chai’

80 Hours On The Ground: Parshat Chayei Sarah In Chevron

Monday, December 5th, 2011

This past week was Parshat Chayei Sarah and I had the good fortune of being in Chevron for Shabbat. I was in Israel for only three days (approximately 80 hours) and was asked many times, “You’ve come to Israel for such a short stay?” Let me explain. I have been to Chevron many times, but it’s always special to be there for this unique Shabbat. Thirty thousand people from all over Israel and many from abroad take the time to make the trip to show that Chevron is and will always be an integral part of Jewish life.

My host for Shabbat was the Yeshivat Shavei Chevron, which is situated in the Bet Romano section. You know you are in Chevron, the home of Abraham, when you see all the boys and rabbeim of the yeshiva exhibiting such great hachnasas orchim. These are special people who choose to live their lives with such commitment to Eretz Yisrael with very few of the amenities that we all take for granted. Their commitment to Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael is second to none. The yeshiva’s students spend three years in the army and then years committed to only learning Torah in the city of our fathers.

Students of Yeshivat Shavei Chevron. Rabbi Hershel Billet is at the far right.

As you make your way to the Me’arat Hamachpelah Friday night, you see the hundreds of soldiers who come to Chevron for this weekend. As many people pass them, they say ‘thank you’ and ‘Shabbat Shalom.’ You see on their faces that they know they are doing something special for the Jewish people. Davening at the Me’ara on Friday night is packed (even though Ohel Yitzchak is open for one of only 10 days the whole year) with many people not even being able to make it into the building.

Seudat Shabbat at the yeshiva is incredibly inspiring with the yeshiva boys singing and dancing with all the guests and rabbanim. Dayan Yonatan Abraham, from London, spoke on Friday night telling everyone how this Shabbat means so much to him and how he gets chizuk from the yeshiva boys. Also in attendance this year was Rabbi Dovid Weinberger of Shaarei Tefilah of Lawrence and Rabbi Hershel Billet of Woodmere, who also gave divrei Torahthroughout Shabbat.

Meir Blisko, a guest at Yeshivat Shavei Chevron; Colonel Guy Hazut; and Minister of Justice Yaakov Neeman.

After the seudah the guests walk through the different neighborhoods of Chevron with the highlight being the Tel Romeda neighborhood, where we were greeted at the home of Baruch Meisel, a long time resident of Chevron. Here you get the true spirit of what it is to live in Chevron, along with hot cholent and an oneg Shabbat. Many visit the tombs of Ruth and Yishai in the hills of Chevron, high above the field of the Me’arat Hamachpelah. In the morning it’s back to the Me’ara to hear the parsha about how Avraham bought the Me’arat Hamachpelah for a burial site for Sarah to be a legacy for the Jewish people forever.

After the afternoon seudah a large group walks through the Kasbah, the original Jewish quarter of Chevron and now the Arab shuk of Chevron, under heavy army guard. The group sang Am Yisrael Chai and the locals didn’t look too happy. But in the end there were no incidents, and we once again found ourselves at the Me’ara and the tomb of Avner ben Ner, the general of Dovid Hamelech.

Minchah was followed by seudah shlishit back at the yeshiva. At this meal there is always a special treat as the colonel who heads the Chevron Brigade, Guy Hazut, is in attendance and addresses the crowd. This year, as he rose to speak, the boys of the yeshiva sang a special heart warming and inspiring song about those who stand to protect us. Then Shabbat came to a close all too quickly, and I can only hope to return to Chevron to be inspired and uplifted again next year.

David Pick (center) and Ilan Goldstein (right), guests at Yeshivat Shavei Chevron for Shabbos, speaking to one of the yeshiva’s rebbeim.

This year the yeshiva is celebrating it’s 32nd year in Chevron and on Sunday night there was a gala dinner in Jerusalem attended by Knesset members, past and present cabinet ministers, high ranking army officers and hundreds of alumni, all committed to the realization of the great work the yeshiva does to continue the Jewish presence in Chevron forever.

Special thanks to Dovi Weiss of Yeshivat Shavei Chevron for his amazing hospitality, as always.

Am Yisrael Chai

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

February/Adar is birthday month in the Kupfer family, with four out of five members born during this period.


My oldest son Mendel made his debut on a wintry Rosh Chodesh Adar that almost seems like yesterday. I marvel that the tiny wizened-faced infant is now himself a father – and I am in awe of the endless chain of Yiddishkeit forged at Har Sinai, linking the past to the present, and the present to the future with new links added with each passing day.


And I remember.


It was the morning of Mendel’s bris one frigid February morning many years ago in a tiny shtiebel in a small town near Pittsburgh. Most of the congregants were quite elderly; no doubt there had not been a bris in the shul for years. So they shuffled up to me, squinted in my face, wished me a mazal tov and asked me, “How do you feel?” I know they were asking about my health. To them it was amazing that I was on my feet, let alone attending the bris. Back in the alter heim a kimpeturin, a woman who had just given birth was flat on her back for weeks.


But the question gave me pause. How do I feel about all this? Not physically but emotionally. For months I walked around with what felt like a squirming watermelon in my belly, unable to see my shoes, let alone tie them. Food shopping was an ordeal, as the smells wafting from the deli made me sick to my stomach. Finding a comfortable position to sleep in was as much of a challenge as getting to the bathroom on time.


And then one blizzard-like day, after hours and hours and hours and hours of being, to quote the nurse, “in a state of discomfort” (that made root canals seem like a walk in the park) my firstborn son made his debut. As I held this toothless, hairless brick-red wrinkled little nefeshal, with a head the size of a grapefruit, I immediately knew that for him I would demolish a mountain if necessary. And now at this moment, barely a week later, I was letting him be put under the knife.


So how I felt was a real good question? I know this was also on the minds of the ladies who were present because I saw them stealing glances at me. No doubt long buried memories and feelings had resurfaced, as they relived the moment themselves.


To be truthful, I felt a smorgasbord of feelings: concern that this very experienced, competent mohel would make his first mistake; anxiety that the baby survive the procedure and my clueless mothering; anguish over his pain; wishing he was getting married instead; and impatience that it be over already.


But these very real thoughts and feelings were unexpectedly shoved aside by an explosion of awe, wonder and the realization that Hashem had bestowed upon me a great honor. I had produced a Jew. There was another son of the covenant because of me and the level of holiness on Earth had been elevated. I was overwhelmed by the enormity of what I had been zoche to do. I had done something that even Moshe Rabbeinu, the only human who had seen G-d’s face could not do. He could not make a Jew. He, like all fathers, could produce children, yet even with the yichus of being the son of Amram and Yocheved and the grandson of Levi, Moshe could not pass on his Jewishness. Only a Jewish woman could. As it turned out, his wife Tzipporah, a convert, was able to transfer her Jewishness onto her sons – but Moshe the tzaddik could not.


For me this was the ultimate of achievements.


I felt that if I did nothing else for the rest of my life – if I sat in bed eating bonbons day after day -I could do so with a total sense of fulfillment, for I had brought forth a ben Yisrael and the world was holier for it. The worry, fear and anxiety that I had been experiencing when they took the baby from my arms had been washed away by feelings of awe and gratitude that I had been deemed worthy to be part of this miracle. By a lovely bit of timing, it was Parshat Terumah, and I was beside myself with pride that in a way I had provided my own kind of terumah – a 10th in a future minyan.


For me, my son’s bris also took on an extra sweet aspect. Both sets of his grandparents were Holocaust survivors from Poland and Romania. My mother, in particular, was the only survivor of her immediate family and my father had lost his mother and 10 older siblings and dozens of his nieces and nephews. (His father had died before the war or he would have probably been murdered as well.) When my son’s name was called out – Menachem Mendel ben Shmuel – I felt as if my hand had gone through gehennom and I had slapped Hitler’s face.


With the birth of every Jewish child, we are stating to those who wish we would disappear: You’re going to be bitterly disappointed.


Am Yisrael chai!


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/am-yisrael-chai/2006/03/01/

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