The event was a moving reunion of both past and present talmidim of Acheinu Yeshiva Hakedosha who came together to celebrate the publishing of the groundbreaking sefer written by their Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Zev Hofstedter. The Sefer “Hilchos Basar V’Chalav” on the practical halachos of basar b’chalav and the halachos of kashrus, has been making waves in the Torah world. In Acheinu’s Yeshiva Hakedosha, however, it was much more than that, it was a family simcha. It felt like intimate family members were celebrating with joy and pride the simcha of their Rosh Yeshiva.
The event was graced by prominent leading Roshei Yeshiva and the father of the sefer’s author, the Nasi of Dirshu, Rav Dovid Hofstedter.
Rav Ariel Elbaz, R”M at the yeshiva, chaired the event. One highlight was when one of the Acheinu alumni made a siyum haShas! The Rebbeim and Rosh Yeshiva were filled with tremendous nachas at his accomplishments and the Torah accomplishments of so many other past and present talmidim. Rav Zev Hofstedter gave a powerful speech. One of the poignant moments of the evening was when the yeshiva presented a beautiful silver and leather bound copy of Rav Zev’s sefer to his father, Rav Dovid Hofstedter. In his remarks, Rav Dovid mentioned what a zechus it was for the whole family and the extended Acheinu family to have this event graced by his in-laws, Reb Avrohom and Mrs. Chava Bleeman. He said that years ago when they suffered unspeakable horrors in Hitler’s Ghettos and Concentration Camps they could never have dreamed that 70 years after liberation they would be in Yerushalayim celebrating the release of a masterful sefer written by their grandson!
The enthusiastic rekida that followed defies description. The gusto with which the boys danced, combined with the simcha, suffused the room with palpable joy “” it was an awe-inspiring feeling.
A “˜Tailor-Made’ Yeshiva
Acheinu’s Yeshiva Hakedosha, where the event was held, is an absolutely unique yeshiva that plays a prominent role in the overall success of Acheinu. How was the Yeshiva Hakedosha conceived? Acheinu’s pe’eylim, all bnei Torah who learn at least half a day, work with teens from non-religious homes. As these teens drew closer to Yiddishkeit, ultimately making the life-altering decision that they wanted to attend yeshiva, they were faced with a problem. On the one hand, they were not yet at the level, neither academically nor socially, to join a regular yeshiva. On the other hand, there was no proper framework al taharas hakodesh that they could join. Acheinu therefore decided to open up its own yeshiva headed by the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Zev Hofstedter.
Acheinu’s Yeshiva Hakedosha is tailor-made to serve as a bridge to a regular yeshiva. All of the talmidim are eventually mainstreamed to regular yeshivos throughout Eretz Yisrael.
The Acheinu Yeshiva Hakedosha is but one component of the massive Acheinu kiruv network, one of the forces instrumental in changing the face of kiruv in Eretz Yisrael.
Three Major Departments, One Address for Success
Acheinu places more than 1000 children in yeshivos annually. This is done through Acheinu’s distinct departments. Each of the departments are run with a proven method of accountability and follow up, to ensure that kids do not slip through the cracks once they have embarked on their journey to kirvas Hashem.
The first department is kiruv rechokim for secular youth. Acheinu features ten battei chizuk, similar to community drop-in centers, in strategic locations across the country. These battei chizuk are warm, welcoming, unthreatening environments where young, secular Jews are exposed to the basics of Judaism.
Acheinu’s second department is kiruv for kids from traditional (but not secular) backgrounds. That department focuses on children who attend Chinuch Atzmai or Shas Schools but otherwise attend local high schools rather than progress to yeshivas or Bais Yaakovs for their post elementary school years. If they remain at a local high school it is almost certain that they will not be able to sustain what they have been taught in elementary school.
Their third department, which can be described as kiruv kerovim, offers assistance to yeshiva bachurim from regular Chareidi backgrounds who are slipping through the cracks or for various reasons not succeeding in yeshiva.
Follow Up the Key to Acheinu’s 93% Success Rate
The reason behind Acheinu’s whopping 93% success rate is because they employ over 100 pe’eylim, Acheinu kiruv activists throughout Eretz Yisrael. The pe’eylim reach out to these kids and imbue them with warmth and understanding of the importance of going to yeshiva. They have close connections with over 100 yeshivos throughout the country and are thus able to find an optimum yeshiva for each bachur.
In addition, another important division of Acheinu is setting up yeshivos. Because of their vast experience, Acheinu’s pe’eylim offer advice, technical and practical, as to how to set up yeshivos, especially those that cater to baalei teshuva or youth from traditional backgrounds. Thus far Acheinu has facilitated the establishment of 7 yeshivos.
1,500 Calls Per Month on Acheinu’s Bachurim Hotline
Acheinu also has a very popular hotline for bachurim who are experiencing any sort of difficulties. It is a confidential hotline where bachurim from across the country can call and get advice on some of the most knotty, vexing issues. Acheinu’s activists, who are especially trained for this task, field more than 1,500 calls per month! The listening ear, the caring and advice that is given has helped save thousands of neshamos!
To augment all of their programs, Acheinu hosts a very popular website offering all kinds of shiurim, kiruv assistance and inspiration. It receives more than 50,000 “hits” per month with an untold number of requests coming in through the website that are handled by Acheinu kiruv experts.
The Crown Jewel
As stated above, Acheinu works with many yeshivos, nevertheless, the crown jewel of Acheinu’s kiruv efforts are the yeshivos that it runs independently, such as the Yeshiva Hakedosha in Yerushalayim and the Acheinu Yeshiva L’Tze’erim, a yeshiva for high school aged children located in Kiryat Sefer. Rav Michoel Berlin, Rosh Yeshiva of the Acheinu Yeshiva in Kiryat Sefer, said, “Nine years ago, HaGaon HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman, shlita asked Acheinu to open the yeshiva, stating that there was a dire need for such a yeshiva and it would save hundreds of boys from traditional homes from attending regular, non-yeshiva high schools.”
Just after Shavuos, the Yeshiva L’Tze’erim held a special “Yom Yeshiva” for the parents of its talmidim, where the parents came to see the yeshiva and learn one-on-one with their sons. The day began with a special seuda with powerful derashos given by HaGaon HaRav Yehuda Yosefi and Rav Chaim Presser. The fathers then went with their sons to the beis medrash to learn. At the end of the spirited learning session, Rav Zev Hofstedter invited his father, Rav Dovid Hofstedter to address the assemblage. Rav Dovid spoke about the unique spiritual hurdles that today’s yeshiva bachurim face and praised the bachurim for accepting upon themselves the yoke of Torah and overcoming the “glitter” of false happiness to instead experience the true joy of a Torah life.
He also remembered HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Wosner, zt”l, who was so close with Dirshu and Acheinu. “Rav Wosner himself had to overcome personal nisyonos in his quest for Torah greatness,” said Rav Dovid. “Rav Wosner was so dedicated to learning that he did not leave the Lublin Yeshiva for a year and half. You too can reach greatness!”
Rav Michoel Berlin, Rosh Yeshiva of the Acheinu Yeshiva L’Tz’erim said, “When we opened the yeshiva we never dreamed of the size, scope and success that the yeshiva would enjoy. Today, elite yeshiva gedolos are asking for our bachurim. That is the Acheinu revolution!”