Acheinu’s Fourth International Kiruv Conference

Anyone passing by the Ohr Yehoshua Hall on the afternoon of Thursday, 25 Adar/March 11, was met with a fascinating scene. An entire family, three generations, was crowded around the entrance to the hall. Every one of the family members, the father and mother, the wheelchair bound grandfather, the brothers and sisters were all focused on a bochur standing bashfully in the middle of the family circle. That bochur, the son, grandson and brother of the entourage was a yeshiva bochur learning in Yeshivas Acheinu.

Last year, that same bochur had been completely unobservant, completely ignorant of Yiddishkeit. Only after attending Acheinu’s Battei Chizuk was the fire of Yiddishkeit, the pintele Yid in his neshamah, kindled. In one year, he made the quantum leap from a completely secular lifestyle to the lifestyle of a yeshiva bochur trying to catch up for lost time, laboring over the hallowed words of Abaye and Rava.

The most amazing thing to see at Acheinu’s Fourth Annual International Kiruv Conference in the Ohr Yeshoshua hall in Bnei Brak was the way the bochur’s family interacted with him. Senior Acheinu activist Rabbi Avidgor Berenstein expressed it pithily, “The entire family, from the grandfather in the wheelchair who strained himself to come from his home in Rishon L’tzion to the smallest little brother, treat the bochur as if he was the Baba Sali! They look up to him as the holy family member and cannot stop praising Hashem and their little “Tzaddik” for their great fortune – having a yeshiva bochur in the family.”

That was just one of the many poignant moments at the Kiruv Conference which brought together, under one roof, Acheinu activists from across Eretz Yisroel and over 500 bochurim who have been placed by Acheinu in yeshivos just last year alone.

More than 90% Success Rate

What is Acheinu? What secret enables them to have an astonishing 93% success rate in ensuring that not only do they become frum but they go to yeshivos and end up becoming distinguished bnei Torah who go on to build exemplary Torah families?

Acheinu, the brain child of Rav Dovid Hofstedter, Nasi of Dirshu, has brought the philosophy of Dirshu a philosophy that stresses setting achievable goals and accountability – to Kiruv Rechokim.

Acheinu’s three step approach successfully ensures that 93% of their charges develop into true bnei Torah. The first step is mentoring. Acheinu assigns a kiruv worker who effectively adopts a child, providing unlimited emotional and even monetary support. That child always has access to his kiruv worker throughout his journey of being imbued with the ideal of joining a yeshiva or Torah school.

“Enrollment In a Yeshiva Does Not Mean that the Kiruv Rechokim Effort Has Been Completed; It Has Just Begun!”

Step two is enrollment. As a result of the close relationship developed between kiruv activists and they eventually succeed in enrolling them in yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs.

The third, perhaps most important step is Acheinu’s aggressive follow-up program. A child’s enrollment in a yeshiva or Bais Yaakov does not necessarily mean that the kiruv rechokim effort has been completed. In fact, it has just begun. Ensuring that this boy or girl will develop into a true ben Torah or bas Yisroel is perhaps the most crucial juncture in kiruv rechokim.

Acheinu maintains contact with both the young teenager and the yeshiva/school faculties to smooth out small issues before they snowball into big issues that can derail the entire kiruv process. In fact Acheinu spends more than 50% of its budget on tipul hemshech, follow-up to ensure that once a bochur or girl has initiated the kiruv process they will be escorted throughout the process by a mentor who will assist them in overcoming all inevitable hurdles that will be encountered along the way.

The success of this approach was clearly discernable at the conference. On the bottom floor of the hall, over 400 torani students who were placed at the beginning of the school year in yeshivos across Eretz Yisroel, gathered to hear words of chizuk and to simultaneously impart chizuk and nachas to the devoted Acheinu Pe’yilim who continue to work with them in their respective yeshivos.

Written Chiddushei Torah Presented by Acheinu Graduates

In honor of the Conference each bochur came with a notebook wherein he had transcribed an entire sugya that he had learned with all of the various shitos as well as the final outcome. To see these bochurim, who last year were not even sure if they would be learning in a frum school, currently writing sugyos was the greatest nachas Acheinu could possibly have.

On the top floor a separate program was held for over 120 students that had last year been in completely secular schools and this year were in yeshivos designed for baalei teshuva.

Rav Yaakov Edelstein: “You Bochurim are Maamidei Olam Sustain the World”

The main guest speaker at the event was the venerable Rav Yaakov Edelstein, Rov of Ramat Hasharon. Rav Edelstein, one of the first ten talmidim of the Ponovezh Yeshiva in the early 1940’s, put Acheinu’s kiruv efforts into historical context by reminiscing on how the holy Chazon Ish would send bochurim from Ponovezh to absorption camps in an attempt to bring the young refugees to yeshivos. “The Chazon Ish called those boys, Maamidei Olam, those who uphold the world! You bochurim are also Maamidei Olam! Who would have believed that bochurim who knew next to nothing about Yiddishkeit just last year would today be writing chiddushei Torah and sugyos in notebooks. Is there any greater Maamidei Olam than this?!”

THAT is the power of Acheinu.