Rachel’s Children Reclamation Foundation hosted a yahrzeit commemoration at the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center.
From a lone “We Are Rachel’s Children” song in 1995, many new Rachel songs have been recorded. From one kollel on site, today there are many groups learning in Kever Rachel, during the day and evening. From fighting to save one bus, there are eight Egged buses running to the Kever every two hours, daily.
Elissa Grunwald, who visited Beit Bnei Rachel on her daughter’s Bas Mitzvah on Rosh Chodesh Elul, introduced the program. Rabbi Yossi Baumol of Efrat, executive director of the Hebron Fund, gave a memorial recognizing one of the greatest Jewish leaders of our times, HaRav Avraham Shapira, former chief rabbi of Israel and rosh yeshiva of Merkaz HaRav Kook. A branch of Merkaz was launched in 1995 to save Kever Rachel.
Keynote speaker Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, founder of Ohr Naava, spoke about activism making a difference and congratulated the Rachel’s Children Reclamation Foundation for its devotion and activities on behalf of Eretz Yisrael and in particular, Kever Rachel.
Two girls, who were the first to celebrate the milestone of their Bas Mitzvah at the only Jewish owned property in the Rachel Tomb Walled Complex, were also honored. Malky Grunwald, of the Crown Heights Yeshiva of Mill Basin, and Tamar Klein, a student at Torah Academy for Girls of Far Rockaway were credited for being an inspiration for more Bas Mitzvahs and other smachos at the Bnei Rachel Simcha Center at Rachel’s Tomb. Several prominent members of the community were honored, including Councilman David Weprin, who was awarded the RCRF’s Community Leadership Award for advocating for the needs for his constituents. He was introduced by Jan Fenster, president of the Queens Jewish Community Council.
Shaya Dear was given the Community Service Award; and Rebbetzin Judith Greenwald, after being introduced by Vivian Singer, daughter of the late Rabbi Dr. Joseph I. and Rebecca Singer, received the RCRF Greater Israel Chesed Award.
Jeffrey and Barbara Kelman were this year’s Rachel Imeinu Activist Awardees.
During the evening Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s exquisite proclamation re-acknowledged Jewish Mother’s Day, which was first inaugurated by Howard Golden, former Brooklyn Borough President, seven years ago.
Donations to and participation in RCRF’s activities will help actualize its cherished dream for a Jewish-owned property within the walled Rachel’s Tomb complex, that will include a post-ulpana, a museum of Jewish aliyah, and a simcha reception and garden wedding center, whose chuppah will replicate the ancient Kever Rachel architecture of four pillars and a dome. Donations for an Aron Kodesh will expedite its planned installation on Tu B’Shevat, January 22, 2008.
The planned ceremony will consist of marching the second RCRF Sefer Torah from Kever Rachel to its permanent address in Beit Bnei Rachel on Derech Chaya Rachel.
RCRF is also seeking a donor for a permanent daily mini-shuttle bus to run constantly to Kever Rachel so visits for all will not be so rushed.
“Remember, a visit to Israel without going to Kever Rachel is like going home and not seeing your mother.”
Evelyn Haies is president of the Rachel’s Children Reclamation Foundation located at 60 West End Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11235, (718-648-2610)