Nevertheless, despite the inability to convey the import attached by the gedolim to Acheinu’s work and mission, it is important to at least convey the words and atmosphere from two separate visits recently made by the senior leadership of Acheinu to the homes of the venerable senior sages, Hagaon Harav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, shlita, Nasi of Acheinu and Hagaon Harav Aharon Leib Shteinman, shlita. At the meetings, Acheinu representatives sought answers and guidance from the roshei yeshiva on a variety of difficult questions.
The meetings, both held in a remarkably unhurried, upbeat atmosphere allowed for a lively give-and-take. All attendees were absolutely amazed by the forthrightness of the hadracha imparted.
Almost 100% Success Rate
Acheinu, the kiruv arm of Dirshu, has brought new standards of accountability to the world of kiruv. Acheinu’s three step approach has ensured that an astounding 93% of all their charges develop into true bnei Torah. This nearly zero fallout rate in kiruv had always been deemed practically impossible until Acheinu came along.
Achienu’s three step method begins with mentoring. Acheinu assigns a kiruv worker to basically “adopt” each child, offering constant accessibility, unlimited emotional and even monetary support as the child is imbued with the ideal of joining a yeshiva or Torah school.
Step two is enrollment. The close relationship developed between kiruv activists and their eventually blossoms by their being enrolled in yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs.
The third, perhaps most important step, is Acheinu’s aggressive follow-up program. A child’s yeshiva or Bais Yaakov enrollment does not necessarily signify the end of the kiruv rechokim effort. In fact, it has just begun. Ensuring the child’s continual development 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 or school faculty to smooth out small issues before they escalate and possibly derail the entire kiruv process.
Acheinu’s Role in the Crucial 8th Grade Year
Perhaps the most crucial year of an Acheinu student is the 8th grade. In Eretz Yisroel, the eighth grade in Torani schools Torah observant schools serving the traditional, not necessarily observant public constitutes a watershed in the lives of graduates. Will the graduate continue learning in a yeshiva kedosha where he can develop into a ben Torah or attend a government high school where his spiritual future will be imperiled?
Acheinu’s activists cultivate personal relationships with every eighth grader. As the relationships flourish, the avreichim draw their charges closer to Torah thereby influencing their decision.
The tremendous efforts invested by more than 40 Acheinu activists, creating close personal relationships with eighth graders and parents in over 45 Torani schools across the country, has proven an even greater success than anticipated by the always optimistic Acheinu hanhala.
Hagaon Harav Shteinman, shlita: Warmth, Support and Candid Guidance
The very nature of kiruv rechokim, and easing children from traditional, often not completely observant homes, into regular yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs, is a process that arouses many weighty hashkafic questions.
Acheinu, an organization solely guided by gedolei Yisroel, frequently turns to the senior gedolim with questions. They have consistently found not just a listening ear in the gedolei Yisroel, but enthusiastic support! These gedolim, whose every second is sacred, always make time for Acheinu, because they have seen firsthand the successful results and ehrlichkeit the G-d fearing approach that they exhibit daily.
The recent meeting of Acheinu’s senior leadership with Hagaon Harav Shteinman was a clear depiction of his deep admiration for Acheinu and its work. Through the entire lengthy meeting, Rav Shteinman held the hand of Acheinu’s founder and patron, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, refusing to let go. This expression of ahava, deep love and appreciation for Rav Dovid’s numerous projects on behalf of Klal Yisroel and their results, was palpable.
Upon entering Rav Shteinman’s sparsely furnished apartment, Rav Avigdor Berenstein, one of Acheinu’s leading lights, explained that these avreichim, Acheinu activisits, have come to hear divrei chizuk from the Rosh Yeshiva.
“You should be giving me chizuk,” Rav Shteinman replied. “You are constantly doing such wonderful things. You must continue. That is the main thing. Continue ensuring that “˜the world will be filled with the knowledge of Hashem’. “˜V’chol bonayich limudei Hashem“”all of your children will be students of Hashem.”
“Our Job is to Ensure That Every Bachur Will Become A Talmid Chacham“
The following is one sample of a question posed: “For many young bachurim the step from a Torani school to a yeshiva kedosha al taharas hakodesh is massive. Many have a hard time getting accepted and even once they are accepted, the acclimating process is fraught with difficulty. On the other hand, there are local, high school aged yeshivos that also teach Torah, where it is much easier to acclimate. It is far simpler to convince bachurim to attend those schools where they do not have to sleep in dormitories, away from home. In general, convincing them to attend such types of nearby yeshivos rather than yeshivos in Bnei Brak is much easier.”
Upon questioning the learning levels of the more local yeshivos and being informed that the levels are far less advanced, Rav Shteinman replied, “Certainly it is worthwhile, despite the difficulties, to invest the time and effort to have them attend a yeshiva here. Our job is to ensure that every bachur will become a talmid chacham to remain an am ha’aretz, he can stay at home”
Rav Shteinman continued, that bringing bachurim from difficult backgrounds is something that we must do. “Some of the greatest roshei yeshiva of our time came from backgrounds that were not charedi, to say the least.”
Rav Shteinman then inimitably said, “What would Avrohom Avinu have done? He would not have been accepted to a yeshiva or cheder with a father like Terach! Would Rivka Imeinu have been accepted to Bais Yaakov with a father like Besuel and a brother like Lavan?! Our job is to provide all Yiddishe kinder with authentic chinuch al taharas hakodesh and to try overcoming all difficulties.”
Hagaon Harav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, Shlita: “Talmidim Must First and Foremost Feel Your Love”
Acheinu’s senior leadership led by Rav Dovid Hofstedter then visited the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz. The nonagenarian nasi of Acheinu stood up to greet the group, welcoming them with tremendous warmth and praising Acheinu’s amazing success. Rav Michel Yehuda cautioned Acheinu against pressuring talmidim too much. “Talmidim must first and foremost feel your love. My Mashgiach when I learned in the Chevron Yeshiva, Rav Meir Chodosh, would say, “talmidim can smell whether you really love them or not.” If you really love them, countless difficulties will automatically melt away.”
Perhaps the greatest testament to the esteem in which Acheinu is held by the gedolei Yisroel can be gleaned from the end of the meeting, when Rav Shteinman was asked to give a personal bracha to the participants. Rav Shteinman replied that a bracha is not necessary, since any person who saves thousands of nehsamos certainly goes straight to Gan Eden!