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August 27, 2016 / 23 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘rav’

West Coast Happenings

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Shul Updates: Some West Coast shuls have ended their search for a new rabbi while others are still searching. Here’s an update: Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, originally from Los Angeles, will be moving back as the rav of Kehillat Yavneh, while Rabbi Joshua Strulowitz of San Francisco’s Adath Israel is leaving to become the rav at the West Side Institutional Synagogue in New York when Rabbi Einhorn leaves that position. Another L.A.-born rabbi, Avi Stewart, will be the new rav at Westwood Kehilla. Meanwhile, EDOS in Denver is continuing its search for a new rabbi.

ENCINO, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Daniel and Rachel Weisman, a son.

LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvahs: Jacob Sclar, son of Gavin and Zara Sclar… Adam Wechsler, son of Jeff and Stace Wechsler.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Births: Yossi and Shani Milstein of Yerushalayim, a daughter (Grandparents Yisroel and Reeva Milstein… Shmueli and Samantha Hauptman, a son (Grandmother Maureen Landers of Santa Monica)… Avi and Bryna Webb of Crown Heights, NY, a daughter (Grandparents BenZion and Yocheved Novack)… Rabbi Shmule and Shterny Gurary, a daughter (Grandparents Shimon and Chana Raichik).

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvahs: Avishai Mermelstein, son of Shlomo and Mariana Mermelstein… Michael Szabo, son of Howard and Helen Szabo… Noam Gershov, son of David and Michal Gershov… Yehuda Mandelbaum, son of Shemayah and Devorah Mandelbaum.

Mazel Tov – Engagements: Shmuel Cohen, son of Rabbi Gabriel and Grace Cohen, to Rivky Alon of Toronto, Canada… Harry Etra, son of Donald and Paula Etra, to Daniella Schwartz of Englewood, NJ… Malka Lowi, daughter of Irwin and Tania Lowi, to Mendy Pechter of Monsey, NY… Esti Gross, daughter of Yossi and Sheindy Gross, to Menachem Neustadt of Detroit, MI… Shmuel Schlussel, son of Gerson and Sara Schlussel, to Hindel Sofer of Melbourne, Australia… Tova Klavan, daughter of Yehoshua and Ruchel Klavan, to Pinchas Schulman of Baltimore, MD… Rivka Stoll, daughter of Warren Zev and Susie Stoll, to Gideon Leiser of Belgium.

Mazel Tov – Wedding: Adam Lebovitz, son of Jerry and Linda Lebovitz, to Dr. Talia Shainhouse.
Graduation: USC – Jonathan Gerber, Master’s in Business Taxation.

PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Engagement: Boruch Kreiman, son of Rabbi Yankel and Rochel Kreiman, to Michal Retman of Melbourne, Australia.

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Rabbi Joey and Sarah Felsen, a son.

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

Mazel Tov – Birth: Yehudis and Yaakov Kaplan, a daughter (Grandparents Rabbi Avram and Leah Bogopulsky).

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvah: Matan Moyal, son of Uri and Lior Moyal.

MERCER ISLAND, WASHINGTON

Mazel Tov – Birth: Mike and Bluma Ekshtut, a son.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

Mazel Tov – Births: Aaron and Naomi Katzman, a daughter (Grandmother Rivka Katzman)… Yeshaya and Nechama Poyours, a daughter.

Mazel Tov – Engagement: Diedra Willner, daughter of Shmuel and Sonia Willner, to Jay Schreiber.

Jeanne Litvin

A Window Into The Past; A Lesson For The Future

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Earlier this month, members of the Toronto Jewish community were given a rare opportunity to be visually transported back in time. The film, filmed in 1922, is called Hungry Hearts, and is based on the short stories of writer Anzia Yezierska, a Jewish woman born in Poland in the 1880s whose family immigrated to New York. Many of her writings are centered on her experiences and those of other immigrants living in the Lower East Side. Like all movies made at that time, it is silent, with dialogue conveyed by cue cards.

The film was shot on location in the Lower East Side, and offered a unique, albeit brief glimpse, into the life of East European Jewish immigrants who had left “die alte heim” – and everything that was familiar to them – to journey to Amerikeh, spurred by the dream of improving their lives and those of their families in the fabled “goldene medina.”

The film, presented by the Toronto Jewish Film Society was screened at the Miles Nadal JCC, located in a part of Toronto that many decades ago, like the Lower East Side, teemed with the colors, smells and hustle and bustle of Jewish immigrants, many of them, like my parent, survivors of the Holocaust.

I had never seen a silent movie in an actual theater (and it had been years since I glimpsed one on TV), and I was intrigued by the idea of experiencing a movie the way people did 100 years ago – with written dialogue and musical accompaniment being utilized to heighten the audience’s awareness of the drama or comedy of the scene. (In this 80-minute film it was provided with great skill and endurance by Jordan Klapman, an accomplished jazz pianist, music director and arranger.)

What made the movie even more appealing to me was that it was atypical, in terms of it being about a Jewish family – with a bearded father and wig-wearing mother (as opposed to the ones I remember where a common theme involves a villain abducting and then tying a hapless female to the railroad tracks, while her hero/love interest desperately tries to reach her before the approaching locomotive does). The household is headed by a rav, who was threatened by the local police for running a cheder (teaching religion was forbidden in Communist Russia). Believing the boastful letter sent by a landsman (local boy) who had significantly embellished the success he has attained in the land of opportunity, the scholarly father uproots his family at the urging of his stoic, practical-minded wife and their shidduch-aged daughter who is imbued with youthful optimism.

Of course, life in America is not the piece of cake they thought it would be – the father preferred sitting with his face in a sefer rather than walking around with a pushcart, but after many trials and tribulations, the family does indeed achieve the American dream – especially when the daughter, Sara, catches the eye of a newly minted lawyer who saves the day when he defends his future mother-in-law in court against the evil landlord, who happens to be his greedy, bully of an uncle. Anticipating an engagement, she takes on back-breaking menial work to afford white paint that will brighten the dreary walls of their tenement, only to have the landlord, who is appalled that his nephew would deign to marry a poor “greena,” double the rent – already barely affordable as it is. In a fit of despair-fuelled rage, she trashes the place.

While the story itself was entertaining, especially when the actors’ facial expressions were somewhat exaggerated, as were their gestures and body language (obviously to compensate for the lack of dialogue) what captivated my attention was the history I was glimpsing; and the sobering awareness that while for me the events had taken place almost a century ago, for the individuals in that film, they were in their “now.”

It was as if a curtain separating today and a far away yesterday, had been momentarily pulled away, inviting us to view a slice of life that once had been someone’s today.

As the story unfolds you see hordes of people going about their daily business on the streets of lower Manhattan in 1922. You are drawn into their reality as you see pushcart peddlers hawking their wares, women picking up various fruits and vegetables with one hand, evaluating their freshness with a practiced eye as their other hand balances a baby on their hip.

Cheryl Kupfer

The Shaagas Aryeh

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Reb Aryeh Leib, the author of the Shaagas Aryeh, was one of the great minds of all times. His genius led him to be very impatient with people, especially with communal leaders who were not worthy of their exalted positions. Because of this he was seldom able to remain as rav in one town for very long, and spent much of his life wandering from city to city, in great poverty.

Once, when he reached the city of Koenigsberg, he came to the home of the rav of the city, the great Reb Aryeh Leib Epstein, author of Sefer Hapardes.

Great Debate

Without bothering to introduce himself, the Shaagas Aryeh, began a complicated discussion with the rav of Koenigsberg.

Both giants of Torah rose higher and higher in the intellectual battle, each one asking and the other answering. Finally, the Shaagas Aryeh gained the upper hand and asked a seemingly triumphant question.

The rav of Koenigsberg, however, reached for a sefer on the table and said, “I will answer you from here.” And he proceeded to give an answer from the sefer he held in his hand. It was the Shaagas Aryeh.

When Reb Aryeh Leib saw this he cried out in protest, “You do not understand what the author of the sefer meant! I know what he really wrote.”

Recognized Him

The rav of Koenigsberg looked into the eyes of the stranger and saw them burning with a strange and mysterious fire. He suddenly realized that here was the Shaagas Aryeh himself!

“Forgive me,” he cried out, “for not recognizing you.” And rushing out, he ordered that a special room be set aside for his great guest. He insisted that the Shaagas Aryeh remain, and every day he would sit with him and discuss Torah for hours.

A Call From Metz

Several weeks later, a letter arrived for the rav of Koenigsberg from the community of Metz in the Rhine Valley. This city was a great center of Torah in those days. Indeed, in the Middle Ages, it’s rav had been the famous Rabi Eliezer of Metz, the student of the great Rabbeinu Tam and the author of the stupendous work Sefer Yereim.

Opening the letter, the rav of Koenigsberg saw that the leaders of the Metz community had invited him to be their rav. It was a great honor but Reb Aryeh Leib of Koenigsberg never hesitated. He knew what had to be done.

Chooses Shaagas Aryeh

Taking Reb Aryeh Leib, the Shaagas Aryeh, by the hand, he said, “Your Torah proclaims your greatness and your awe of G-d is greater even than your wisdom. You are also strong and unafraid. Because of this it is only proper that you sit upon the chair of the rabbinate of Metz, the position that the great Reb Eliezer once held.”

And this is how the Shaagas Aryeh, at the age of 70, became the rav of Metz.

Looks Old

The community of Metz was overjoyed to have the great Torah giant as their rav but they were also a bit sad when they saw Reb Aryeh Leib. For he looked so old that they feared that he would not be with them for long.

But Reb Aryeh Leib looked at the communal leaders and, understanding what they were thinking, said, “I know that you are thinking that I am very old and not likely to live many more years. But let me assure you that just as Yaakov told Pharaoh that he was not as old as he looked but he had aged from all his suffering, I can also say the same. I am not as old as I look; I have only aged from all my wanderings and troubles. I assure you that I will be with you for another 20 years.”

And Reb Aryeh Leib proved to be a true prophet. He lived another 20 years as rav of Metz and died at the age of 90.

How He Died

Tradition tells us that Reb Aryeh Leib did not die from old age, but from in a remarkable accident.

The Vilna Gaon once said that the Shaagas Aryeh had the entire Talmud and its commentaries at his fingertips and that he could relate the gist of all of them and their sources in one hour.

It was only at rare intervals that the great Reb Aryeh Leib found it necessary to look at a certain book to check a point. It happened once when he was 90 – a certain point remained a bit obscure in his mind and he went over to the bookcase to look it up.

As he reached up to pull out the sefer, the entire bookcase suddenly toppled over and fell on him, pinning him down. It was not till the following morning that Reb Aryeh Leib was found buried under a whole bookcase filled with sefarim.

Rabbi Sholom Klass

Events In The West

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Events In The West: This Shabbos, May 4-5, features the Religious Zionists of Los Angeles Community Yom Ha’Atzmaut Shabbaton in the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Beverlywood-Pico-Robertson, Beverly Hills and Hancock Park. Speakers will include Rabbanit Make Bina, director, matan, chancellor and founder of Michlelet Bruria; Rabbi Rafi Feurstein, president and zohar; Rabbi Dr. Binyamin Lau, director of Beit Morasha and rav of the Ramban Synagogue in Jerusalem; and Rabbi Benjamin Levene, senior vice president of Gesher… On May 6 at 11 a.m., Rabbi Dr. Benzion Twersky will be speaking on “The Internet: A Blessing Or A Curse” at L.A.’s Congregation Sharei Tefila… Also in L.A. on May 6, The Jewish Marriage Institute conducts a Shalom Workshop from 12:45-5 p.m. for newly engaged or married couples at Morry’s Fireplace… On May 11-12, Palo Alto’s Emek Beracha and the OU’s Our Way will be hosting “A Signing Shabbat,” a Shabbaton designed for the deaf. The Torah reading and the drasha will be signed simultaneously, and classes will be available in sign language… On May 11-13, northern California’s Jewish Study Network is hosting a “Getaway Shabbaton” featuring Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz… And on May 15 at The Mark, Chai Lifeline West Coast and Bear Givers present “Through the Eyes of our Children,” featuring art work by children impacted by serious illness.

CALABASAS, CALIFORNIA Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvah: Benji Fink, son of Sam and Belloria Fink.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA Mazel Tov – Births: Seth and Tali Merewitz, a daughter… Ben Tzion Yachzel and Rivka Yachzel of Kew Gardens Hills, NY, a son (Grandparents Joel Yachzel and Beverly Yachzel… Dr. Ryan and Danielle Spivak, a daughter… Jacob and Shoshana Polevoy, a daughter (Grandparents Dr. Ernie and Suzanne Agatstein; Great-grandparents Rochelle Agatstein; Ben and Lea Lax)… Donny and Alyssa Wiesel, a daughter (Grandparents Bernie and Elaine Wiesel and Gary and Serena Apfel; Great-grandparents Ben and Betth Jakobovits and Jenny Apfel)… Rabbi Ami and Zisi Meyers, a daughter (Grandparents Herb and Myrna Meyers)… Dovid and Stacy Oyen, a son… Yaakov and Rivky Aguirre, a daughter… Michoel and Rochele Vago of Monsey, a son (Grandparents Yossi and Erica Vago)… Moishe and Gittle Treitel, a daughter (Grandparents Stanley and Barbara Treitel)… Shlomo and Hadassa Dubin, a daughter (Grandparents Rabbi Mordechai and Debbie Dubin; Barry and Tova Kohn; Great-grandmother Helene Kohn)… Mordechai and Shoshana Diskind, a daughter (Grandparents Marilyn Rubin; Elly Rubin)… Shlomo and Ahuvah Gurwitz, a son (Grandparents Beinish and Peggy Kaplan)… Avrumi and Yitty Goldberg, a daughter (Grandparents Moishe and Chanala Chopp; Great-grandparents Chaim and Suri Kassirer; Chaim and Leah Chopp)… Rabbi Hananya and Mindy Jacobson of Lakewood, NJ, a son (Grandparents Rabbi Dovid and Emily Jacobson; Great-grandparents Dr. George and Grace Fox)… Yaakov and Leah Kest of Suffern, NY, a son (Grandparents Michael and Suri Kest)… Rabbi Yanki and Basya Inzlicht of Lakewood, NJ, a daughter (Grandparents Michael and Suri Kest)… Rabbi Shmuel and Faigi Lurie, a daughter (Grandparents Rabbi Meyer and Shulamith May)… Aaron and Gilah Dorfman, a son… Rabbi David and Dr. Gaby Mahler, a son… Shneur and Rivkala Gottlieb, a son… Levi and Malka Lesches, a daughter (Grandparents Moshe and Miriam Fishman)… Ari and Shira Twersky, a daughter (Grandparents Baruch and Eva Twersky)… Yaacob and Rivka Assayag, a son (Grandparents Rabbi Amram and Nicole Gabay)… Rabbi Motti and Zippy Klein, a son (Grandparents Robert and Erica Klein)… Akiva and Rachel Greenfield, a daughter (Grandparents Gerard and Marlene Einhorn; Dr. Bruce and Anne Greenfield)… Daniel and Keren Katz, a daughter (Grandparents Mike and Shelly Sussman)… Zev and Chani Karpel, a son (Grandparents Howard and Gity Gluck)… Rabbi Yechezkel and Nechama Raeburn, a son… Munish and Rikky Weiss, a son (Grandparents Rabbi Marty and Hadassah Weiss)… Dr. Ryan and Danielle Spivak, a daughter.

Mazel Tov – Bar Mitzvahs: Yehoshua Krich, son of David and Michelle Krich… Yoni Zisblatt, son of Uri and Effie Zisblatt… Jack Levkowitz, son of Howard and Elayne Levkowitz… Eitan Halpert, son of Jeffrey and Ziva Halpert.

Mazel Tov – Engagements: Shira Leventhal, daughter of David and Beth Leventhal, to Zev Rottenberg, son of Yossi and Faye Rottenberg… Rachel Adison, daughter of Avraham and Dina Adison, to Samuel Schwartz of Savannah, GA… Chava Feigen, daughter of Rabbi Yehuda and Simi Feigen, to Binyomin Braun of Lawrence, NY… Ruchi Dear, daughter of Rabbi Moshe and Lea Dear, to Ephraim Sternberg of Bayswater, NY… Yitzy Greenbaum, son of Arieh and Felice Greenbaum, to Aliza Vishniavsky of Newton, MA… Shmuel Werner of Toronto to Faiga Malka Lehman, daughter of Kenneth and Libby Lehman (Grandparents Rabbi Jacob and Leah Friedman)… Shaul Klein, son of Lazer and Tova Klein, to Rachayli Fuchs of Flatbush, NY… Michelle Taitz, daughter of Emanuel Taitz, to Moshe Goldfeder… Yossi Schusterman to Chaya Mushka Lieberman… Uri Okrent, son of Dr. Derek and Bathsheva Okrent, to Atara Jacobs of NJ… Ariel Hausman, son of Jacob and Ellen Hausman, to Zahava Sara Yaffa of Atlanta, GA… Tuvia Korobkin, son of Rabbi Daniel and Karen Korobkin, to Adina Klein of Toronto. Mazel Tov – Wedding: Rebecca Praw, daughter of Albert and Heidi Praw, to Michael Share.

Jeanne Litvin

Loving Parking Tickets: Wearing The Right Glasses

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Is it really possible for any self-respecting New Yorker to love parking tickets? I have seen those orange rectangular pieces of paper become the nemesis of society. As a result, those trying to earn a meager living giving out these tickets have become Public Enemy Number One. We view them as “out to get us,” deliberately attempting to make our lives miserable. I have often seen people wearing frowns for hours because of the audacity of the meter maid – or the city at large – to cause them this needless expense and for not respecting their freedom to park their car. I have witnessed people yelling at the top of their lungs, to no avail, at a blue-clad individual who is writing a summons, when it is obvious that their hysteria will not only not prevent the ticket from being written, but is probably not good for their mood or blood pressure (not to mention the unjustified Chillul Hashem they are causing). So how is it possible that these perceived menaces of society could actually be appreciated?

Chazal tell us that patience is one of the best ways to regulate our middos, and help us gain the proper perspective on life. The tefillah of the patient person is accepted—perhaps, as a result of his patience towards others, Hashem is “patient” with him and gives merit to his prayers. Not only are his prayers accepted, but he also gets forgiven for his sins. The Gemara relates that when you forgive others, even when they are not deserving of your forgiveness, then Hashem forgives you even though you may not be worthy of His forgiveness. And as we can all use the gracious forgiveness of the Almighty, it is worth finding a way to give others a pass for their indiscretions.

Additionally, one who remains silent when he is attacked gives existence to the world; by remaining silent, he is reducing the interpersonal conflict and conflagration that can destroy the world at large – and the peace of our individual worlds. YES, it is very hard to stay in control when we are attacked, but if we make the effort to restrain ourselves, we are given siyatta d’Shmaya (Divine assistance). Furthermore, refraining from responding – even when it may be allowed and justified – allows us to access the greatest heavenly blessings of forgiveness and goodness. The reward is immense for an act that is difficult, yet takes only a few seconds to accomplish.

The Gemara relates (Rosh Hashanah 17) that Rav Huna was very sick, to the point that the other Sages thought he would die, and requested that his shrouds and coffin be prepared. In the end, however, his life was spared. Rav Huna explained that he was granted life because he did not stand on ceremony and defend his honor. He showed patience and respect for others; in return, he was granted a miraculous recovery. Is it not worth a long life to keep it quiet at difficult moments?

There is a well-known story of a couple that had been childless for 20 years and went to a Gadol for a bracha. The rav told them that they should seek a blessing from someone who does not respond to insult; such a person is clean of sin and eligible for miraculous life—in this case, in the form of a child for the childless couple. At a wedding the following week, the couple observed as someone remained silent as insults were being heaped upon him. As per the rav’s suggestion, they requested a blessing from this righteous person. Within the year, the blessing was fulfilled; after two decades, they were finally parents.

The enormous restraint and patience on the part of the man who was being insulted resulted in the fulfillment of a blessing, of miraculous life. The magnitude of exhibiting self-control in the face of humiliation has rewards beyond comprehension.

Traditional advice to the newlywed is to refrain from going to sleep while in a state of anger at one’s spouse. When you go to sleep while the marriage is not in balance, it demonstrates a lack of regard for harmony, for how could you sleep in such a state? Additionally, by allowing the anger to remain and simmer, it becomes internalized; you become an angry person. At the beginnings of a dispute it may be simpler to retreat and prevent conflict. As time goes on, however, each party may ruminate about the incident until they are each able to view it in a way whereby each one believes that he/she is 100% correct. A moment of patient forgiveness, a moment of “letting things slide,” is the building block of both harmony and personal strength. The Gemara (Megillah 28) relates that Rav Zeira was asked why he merited a long life. He responded that he was not makpid in his house – he was forgiving and did not stand on ceremony with his loved ones. Thus, anger management and self-control have direct effects on our physical and spiritual planes of existence.

Rabbi Gil Frieman

My Machberes

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Chassidim Elected To Public Office

Yidel Perlstein (left) and City Councilman David Greenfield.

The election on March 28 of Yidel Perlstein as chairman of Community Planning Board 12 in Brooklyn is an indication of unfolding voting patterns that are changing the face of local governance. His election follows the November 2011 election of Aron B. Wieder to the Rockland County Legislature, representing its 13th District.

 

Aron B. Wieder

Wieder, running on the Democratic, Republican, and Independence lines against an incumbent, won a resounding victory, garnering 79 percent of the vote. He has since been appointed to four important Rockland County Legislature Committees: Economic Development; Government Operations; Public Safety; and Environmental. The appointments are an affirmation of the respect and confidence he has earned from his colleagues and of his viability as a public servant.

Rabbi Jacob Z. Goldstein

Perlstein was elected with an impressive 75 percent of the vote. He had received the endorsement of several elected officials. Community Board 12 represents more than 200,000 residents. He succeeds Alan Dubrow, a member of the board since 1978 and chairman since 1990. Perlstein joins Rabbi Jacob Z. Goldstein, another chassidic elected official, who has served, with distinction, as chairman of Community Board No. 9 (Crown Heights) since 1979.

 

Who Might Be Next?

Of course, being elected to public office is no easy matter. We can laugh at Mark Twain’s comment, “Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress – but I repeat myself.” But the reality is that getting elected to any public office is a noteworthy achievement. One must have the intuitive understanding to effectively communicate to the people whose votes are necessary for being elected. Being elected by a constituency that extends beyond the walls of one’s beis medrash is to be truly admired.

Our community has an impressive number of individuals worthy of public office. But they have to be encouraged and persuaded to run for office. Few, however, rise to the towering level of Rabbi Aaron Lewin, zt”l Hy”d (1879-1941), Reisha Rav and author of Hadrash Veha’iyun. Grandson of Rabbi Yitzchok Shmelkes, zt”l (1828-1905), author of Beis Yitzchok, Rabbi Lewin served in the Polish Sejm (parliament) from 1922 until the Nazi invasion of Poland in September of 1939. He was murdered in the Holocaust.

The internationally renowned attorney Nathan Lewin is a proud grandson of the Reisha Rav. Nathan Lewin is the son of Rabbi Yitzchok Lewin, zt”l (1906-1995), Agudath Israel Leader.

The Reisha Rav was extraordinarily unique. Nonetheless, there are individuals in our communities who are worthy of serious consideration. One name that immediately springs up is that of Chaim Israel. He was instrumental in the work of SEBCO over the last 35 years in stabilizing the neighborhood known as Boro Park West (the lower numbered avenues and streets), which thrives today. The same principles were applied to other neighborhoods. Those successes have received national attention.

Chaim Israel, back row, fourth from right.

Chaim Israel is well respected by administrators at Maimonides Medical Center and other area hospitals. He organized Vaad Refuah and propelled it to the forefront of Bikur Cholim challenges. In that capacity he leads volunteers from all walks of life: attorneys, businessmen, health care professionals, rabbis, real estate developers, men and women from yeshivish and chassidish backgrounds, all dedicated to improving the health and the delivery of health care services to our community.

He is the son of Rabbi Avrohom Meir Israel, zt”l (d. 1995), late rav of Honiad and author of Vaya’an Avrohom and Imrei Avrohom, and ybch”l Rebbetzin Chava Israel. Rebbetzin Israel (may she have a speedy recovery and be restored to full health soon) is the ideal bikur cholim practitioner, having made countless visits to patients during her decades of daily rounds of visits to every bed in area hospitals.

Surviving the Holocaust, Rabbi Avrohom Meir Israel served as chief rabbi of Vienna and was a key figure in guiding the resurgence of religious life in postwar Europe. He worked alongside post-Holocaust Torah leaders such as Rabbi Boruch Leizerowski, zt”l (d. 2000), Lodzer Rav and author of Taam Boruch who survived Dachau and Auschwitz and was appointed chief rabbi of Munich and later served as chief rabbi of Philadelphia.

Rabbi Avrohom Meir also worked shoulder to shoulder with Rabbi Eliezer Paltiel Roitblatt, zt”l (d. 1998), Shenitzer Rebbe, who was appointed rav of Shenitza, Poland, in 1935. He was the last surviving rav who served in Poland before the Holocaust. Surviving the Holocaust, Rabbi Eliezer Paltiel was appointed rav of the displaced persons camp in Lintz-Weigsheid and was instrumental, together with Rabbi Avrohom Meir, in freeing many agunahs whose husbands were murdered in the Holocaust but had no absolute proof.

Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum

Kerovim Or Rechokim: Where Should Our Kiruv Priorities Lie?

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

As rav of the Brooklyn Jewish Experience, a local kiruv organization devoted to reaching out to Brooklyn’s almost 70 percent non-observant Jewish population, I also teach and counsel young adults (18-33 years old) from the frum community. These students are often indistinguishable from their frum peers. Outwardly they may appear frum, but inwardly they’re disenchanted, jaded, and alienated. Their exterior appearance is largely a façade and their feeling of disenfranchisement from frumkeit is frighteningly real. There are others that are part of our program who, tragically, already took the next step and are no longer observant.

Admittedly, our primary mission and Brooklyn Jewish Experience’s success has been working with the not-yet frum, but our programs are inundated with the aforementioned members of the community who find our hashkafa and kiruv-styled shiurim to be invigorating, refreshing, rejuvenating, and often life-altering.

I will never forget an incident that occurred during a weekly shiur several days before Yom Kippur. The lecture introduced our students to the concepts of teshuvah and a philosophic but practical understanding of the restrictions of the holiday. After the shiur I fielded halachic and hashkafic questions about the impending fast.

Following the Q&A session, a student approached me privately to ask a question. He was exceedingly fidgety and nervous and I had to calm him to elicit his query. He confided that though he was almost thirty years old and grew up in a frum home, he had, astoundingly, never fasted on Yom Kippur. After several minutes of intense conversation and a warm, supportive embrace, the fellow said, “I want you to know that because of what you’ve told me, this will be my first year fasting on Yom Kippur.”

I was in tears.

* * * * *

That encounter and numerous others led me to reassess my role. Who is to say that the rechokim, those raised in irreligious homes, are more paramount than the kerovim, those brought up in frum homes but, for whatever the reason, are no longer inspired and committed? It is for this reason that Brooklyn Jewish Experience will not turn away kerovim who sincerely seek to learn and grow in a tolerant and non-judgmental environment.

In my work with this segment of students, I’ve drawn several conclusions concerning what may be surefire ways to keep children inspired and enthusiastic in their observance and prevent them from deviating from and abandoning Yiddishkeit.

Most often the success of a child developing into a passionate frum adult is directly correlated to coming from an emotionally stable home. Just as plants and trees need sunlight and water to blossom and thrive, there is an optimal environment in which a can develop. Children need love, stability, and structure.

Children need to receive love from both parents to be emotionally healthy. Kiddushin 31 teaches that a child is more inclined to respect his mother because of the love and nurture a mother provides. The very first time the Torah employs the word love is not in a spousal context but rather in a parent-child relationship, between Avraham and Yitzchak, a father and a son. I believe this is to stress the importance of a parent, particularly a father, showering a child with love. A child needs love from both mother and father in order to develop into a psychologically healthy adolescent.

Parenting requires tremendous perseverance and self-sacrifice. We learn a lot about the parenting imperative from the Hebrew word for parents, horim. Rashbam and others teach that horim is etymologically derived from har, mountain, which symbolizes stability. This means it is vital that parents convey a sense of stability and consistency. Tehillim says “Esa einai el heharim m’ayin yavo ezri (I lift my eyes to the Mountains from where my help does come), which Yalkut Shimoni interprets to mean “I lift my eyes to my parents from where does my help come.”

In other words, help comes from parents who prioritize, placing their children first and their own needs second. The Gemara teaches that in addition to symbolizing stability, harim, mountains, also signify eternity, so that horim, parents, denote eternity to a child (Avodah Zarah 17a and commentaries on Tehillim 121). There is a definite correlation between good parenting and the preservation of mesorah in children. When parents are derelict and fail to properly provide stability, consistency, and love, the child often loses interest in perpetuating the eternal chain of tradition.

Rav S. R. Hirsch said: “The maintenance of Yiddishkeit requires parents who will faithfully transmit the faith to their children, and children who are willing to accept from the hands of their parents. The survival of Yiddishkeit rests entirely upon the obedience of children to their parents…. Parents in fact represent the tie that binds the child to the past of his people and that enables the child to be a religious man or woman.”

Rabbi Yitzchak Fingerer

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/kerovim-or-rechokim-where-should-our-kiruv-priorities-lie/2012/04/12/

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