Eliran Boruchov was a precocious eighth grader in the Chinuch Atzmai School in Ramle.
His completely irreligious parents David and Nurit had originally enrolled him in the school because they were convinced by an activist that the school”s secular studies program was the best in the area and it was free of violence.
During the eighth grade year, Acheinu sent a distinguished, realistic yungerman by the name of Michoel Berlin to give a weekly parsha talk to the eighth grade. Through his discourses, the empathetic and charismatic avreich became acquainted with many of the students who soon warmed up to him. Eliran took a particular liking to Michoel and took every opportunity to be in his company. Michoel, in turn, began to spend time with Eliran both in and out of school and soon got to know Eliran”s parents as well. Later in the school year, when the subject of Eliran”s future schooling came up, Michoel spent hours talking to Eliran on how being in a Yeshiva would change and improve his life. After several months, Eliran agreed to go to Yeshiva and his mother ultimately agreed. The problem, however, was that his father was vehemently opposed to the concept.
Acheinu tries its utmost to prevent internal family strife. Michoel was therefore determined to garner David Baruchov”s agreement to send Eliran to Yeshiva, rather than having him go against his father”s will.
Michoel spent hours and days conversing with David, addressing his concerns. David was especially concerned that the yeshiva would not provide Eliran the necessary tools to eventually earn a living. After months of tedious work, Michoel finally convinced David to agree at least to a trial period. During this time, the close bond between Eliran and Michoel strengthened and Eliran”s excitement to enter Yeshiva intensified. After the school year had ended and before Yeshiva started, Eliran spent two months of summer vacation in Ramle. Those two months were very detrimental for his spiritual health. During the long summer days without Yeshiva, Eliran’s local friends began to ridicule the fact that he was going to a Yeshiva, urging him to join them at the secular high school they would be attending.
Unfortunately, his friends held tremendous influence on this young teen and one day, in his daily telephone conversation with Michoel, Eliran told him that he had changed his mind. He was enrolling in the local secular high school. Michoel did not act alarmed. Rather, he told Eliran that although he did not agree with him, he respected his decision. The next day, Michoel came to Ramle and took Eliran out for pizza. That was the first of his daily trips from Bnei Brak to Ramle where he would spend half an hour shmeussing with Eliran while eating pizza together, after which he would then return to Bnei Brak.
Of course, this daily contact strengthened the close bond between the two. On the day before the Yeshiva opened its doors for the new year, Michoel spoke to Eliran, “Eliran, you know that the Yeshiva schedule starts four days before the secular High school, why don”t you just try out the Yeshiva for four days and see what it is like? I will personally accompany you to the high school in four days. It”s only four days, what do you have to lose?”
They had spent so much time the past few weeks together and had forged a deep and committed relationship. Eliran simply could not say no. He agreed, but made Michoel promise that he would take him to high school in four days.
Now that Eliran had agreed to try the Yeshiva, Michoel was faced with perhaps an even greater task – convincing the hanhala of the Yeshiva to accept a completely irreligious boy with very little Torah knowledge! The Bnei Brak Yeshiva was a serious Yeshiva with an advanced learning program and Michoel brought Eliran to the Mashgiach the day before Yeshiva started for a bechina. The Mashgiach was not impressed with his knowledge of Limudei Kodesh and told Michoel that he did not think Eliran was advanced enough for the Yeshiva. Michoel pushed, begged and cajoled, promising the Mashgiach that he would provide any assistance that Eilran needed to be brought up to the level. Only Michoel’s deep conviction and his track record as one who supports his bochurim throughout their yeshiva years caused the Mashgiach to relent.
Eliran came to the Yeshiva and, to put it mildly, it was a major adjustment. The first day he called Michoel begging to come home. Michoel was there for him, supporting him, listening to him, helping him. The next day, the bochurim saw Eliran shaving with a razor. He simply had no idea that it was strictly prohibited. Enter Michoel to smooth things out. To say there were no bumps in the road even after a few months of adapting would be inaccurate. There were many hurdles and once Eliran even left the Yeshiva for a day to try to enroll in his high school. With tremendous devotion, empathy and hard work, Michoel succeeded in easing Eliran”s acclimation process in the Yeshiva. Today Eliran is a true Yeshiva bochur making great strides in his leaning.
This is the story of Acheinu and the secret of its success. It is nothing miraculous, magical or glitzy. It is the story of caring, professionalism, empathy and hard work. Eliran is just one of the one thousand and thirty four students enrolled in Yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs this past year and virtually all of them are still there shteiging away! What is Acheinu and why is its unique approach to Kiruv Rechokim profoundly impacting countless families?