Reports From The Field, 5/12/2010

The Yeshiva Hakedosha

Visitors from Migdal Haemek

For Lag Baomer we organized many exciting activities for the bachurim; including a visit to our yeshiva by R’ Shlezinger Shlita’s, Rav of Geneva , a huge Gaon and author of Sheilos VTeshuvos in halacha. The boys listened for an hour and a half to a fascinating shiur. When he was leaving he turned to me, all emotional, and said, “I am leaving here with tears in my eyes. I am shocked and moved by these dear boys who are arguing in learning, and are learning Torah with such chiyus.

R’ Eliyahu Diskind Shlita joined us for the Lag Baomer bonfire lighting at the yeshiva, his presence gave over a serious atmosphere, more than what the boys were used to in the past.

As part of the program, we surprised the boys with a trip to the swimming pool, we also invited boys from a school in Migdal Haemek, who wanted to see from up close what a yeshiva kedosha is, and primarily to meet the bachurim and fellow youth, who left Migdal Haemek and came here to learn in the yeshiva. The guest left impressed and excited with what they saw, in particular that two of their former friends, who until two years ago were also deeply entrenched in frivolities of olam hazeh together with them, who changed their image and clothing and now look like the epitome of yeshiva bachurim.

We hope, therefore, that the visit will have positive results, both for the boys in the yeshiva  who have seen what’s different in my son, and of course for the guest who they peeked and were afflicted by the vibrant, fulfilling and enjoyable life of the yeshiva.


Acheinu’s First Chosson

Avigdor Bernsteincontinues, last week marked the wedding of Acheinu’s first chosson, who got married to a girl from a l’mehadrin chareidi family. This is a bachur who learned in the yeshiva hakedosha, and from there continued on to yeshiva “˜Ahavas Ahron’.

At the wedding the Yeshiva staff, Acheinu activists, the Yeshivas Ahavas Ahron staff, and Acheinu alumni from all different yeshivos took an active part in the simcha; they danced and brought others to dance, and it would be too difficult to describe in mere words the joy that soared all the way to the heavens. There was a special excitement for the chosson and guests when R’ Zev Hofstedter Shlita came to join the simcha; the two of them learned the first chelek of the Mishna Berura together, on which the chosson scored above a 90% when tested.

Hayeshiva L’Zeirim

Lag Baomer Activities

We were in a serious dilemma for Lag Baomer. On the one hand it was important for us to keep the bachurim in the yeshiva, so they should not be affected by the street, and on the other hand the boys who were used to having fun celebrating with their families and surroundings, would now be trapped in the walls of the yeshiva? Wont this make them regret being here?

Finally we decided to send them home for the Shabbos before Lag Baomer, so that on Motzai Shabbos they will come to the yeshiva. We surprised them on Motzai Shabbos and Sunday with a variety of fun programs, which managed to fill their day, as planned. Five bachurim who excelled in their learning were sent to Meiron, and for the rest of the boys we had a BBQ like at home the boys left happy, and when they are happy, we are even more.

The great demand to be accepted into the yeshiva

Avigdor Bernsteincontinues to report of the 180 elementary school students who have taken the entrance exam to come to the yeshiva, of which 30 were selected, those that were best suited to the style of the yeshiva.

The high number of applicants to the yeshiva, obviously means that people see that the yeshiva can take troubled boys, with discipline and behavior problems, and transform them into real gems, who after spending a year learning in the yeshiva, the bachur‘s situation has been entirely transformed.

Attention in the yeshivos

The boy is back on track 

Last week we put a boy back on the right track, after he nearly dropped out. A bachur who was learning in yeshiva Mishkan Shimon, with a troubled background, born into the warzone of Sderot, when one day their home suffered a direct hit by a missile. The house fell apart for a while; the parents and children lived elsewhere scattered among family members. The boy who had a weak character by nature, took it very hard, and went into periods of depression. It took until shiur gimmel for the professionals of the place to give him the necessary tools to deal with his difficulties.

One morning the bachur disappeared from the yeshiva. We immediately contacted him, and told him clearly, “you have to go back to the yeshiva!” But the boy refused and claimed, “I anyways stand no chance of doing well on the yeshiva gedola tests. I think it is better that I go to a yeshiva high school.

We had an avreich who until recently was learning with this boy regularly, until he moved to Elad and it was too far to continue learning together. Our activist tried to go after him, turning to the boy asking, “If we arrange for that avreich to continue learning with you and help you prepare for the yeshiva gedola tests, would you agree to go back to the yeshiva?” Fortunately the answer was in the affirmative.

Somehow we immediately worked out for the avreich to come and learn with the boy during second seder, three times a week, and the bachur continued to blossom, with the intention of finishing the period of his studies in yeshiva ketana, and of course to pass the yeshiva gedola tests with tremendous success...

Battei Chizuk

A child who runs away from school

Once again this week we were witness to something unusual, which once again proved the tremendous thirst of youth for Torah and mitzvos. This is about a boy who came to us one day asking to spend the day with us. He claimed that his class went on an annual trip, and he preferred to give it up to come and learn.

This is a daily occurrence; the boys use every window of opportunity for example when the teacher doesn’t show up-to leave school and come with great enthusiasm to the yeshiva. Literally like a child who runs away from school, in the positive sense.

There now is a fourteen and a half year old boy from a separated home, who until recently lived with his mother, but because of her strong opposition to his new lifestyle, the boy did not give up, but rather decided to leave her home, despite all the pain involved, and to go live with his father, who would accept him for who he is, and let him do as he pleased.

Two days after Lag Baoemer, when the pressure in Meiron subsided, we went with the bachurim to daven at the tziun of R’ Shimon Bar Yochai.

Avigdor Bersteincontinues to tell about the visit of R’ Hovlin, the Rav of Kiryat Gat, in the beit hachizuk located over there. The Rabbi was impressed with the extensive activity, and even offered his assistance to increase the amount of students in the mornings and afternoons. “I do not know why Kiryat Gat merited for Acheinu to establish such an important center here ,” the Rabbi said at the conclusion of the visit.

Indeed, the beit chizuk in Kiryat Gat became a central light, not only for Kiryat Gat, but for the whole southern area; boys from Beer Sheva, Ashkelon and other neighboring communities, who want to grow, advance and strengthen themselves, come here in droves.

Battei Chizuk

He finally received an exemption

This week we successfully completed a complicated and exhausting story, spread out over many long months.

This story involves a twenty year old boy who enlisted and served in the Tel Aviv, intelligence wing of the Air Force; a prominent position, much more than standard.

With time, because of his good friend who got close to us and mediated between us and this boy, he too wanted to be chozer bteshuva. Obviously for a practicing soldier, being chozer b’teshuvah is not a simple thing, both from the “˜sur meira – removing for evil’ aspect in matters of tznius and kashrus, and from the “˜asei tov –positive’ aspect for there is no time to daven and perform the basic miztvos. When the boy realized these difficulties, he contacted us and asked and begged of us to arrange for him to leave the army in order to go learn in yeshiva. We however were not rushing anywhere. From experience, a secular boy at such an age is not ready to sit in yeshiva from morning to evening.

After two weeks he got back to us with tears in his eyes. “I am not able to continue living in the army with all the difficult temptations of tznius.”

I asked him, “At what time do you go home every day?”

“At 5 p.m.” he answered.

“So from today and on, instead of going home every day at 5, you can come to us for a few hours and we’ll see how you do.” And this is what happened. The boy came and enjoyed it immensely, and it seemed as if this was enough for him.

After two months he started again, “I want to get out of the army completely and to come to the yeshiva for the entire day. I cannot continue here!”

I advised him to start sleeping in the yeshiva, because you cannot compare two hours of learning in the yeshiva to staying for eight hours or more. The boy agreed and implemented the proposal and was thrilled with the yeshiva life.

At the same time, I advised him to go to his commander and to slowly  let him in on his desire to leave the army to go learn in the yeshiva. As expected, the commander flatly refused the idea and sent the soldier away. “Are you normal? You have a respectable position in the intelligence department of the Air Force, and you are willing to give it up, for what, to be chozer b’teshuva? What happened to you?…”

I told the boy, “Go to the commander with the sefer Zohar and set up a class with him. Who knows, maybe you’ll be able to bring him with you, and we’ll gain twofold.

Oddly enough the commander did not oppose and agreed to the idea of learning with the soldier. But from this point to be chozer b’teshuva, or at least to let the soldier leave the base, was still a long way.

After incessant nuisances of the soldier, along with his obtrusive behavior which I guided him in including refraining from speaking with girls, and walking around with downcast eyes for shmiras einayim etc., it got around the base that the “soldier Yigal (a pseudo name) is being chozer beteshuva. Obviously the commander started to realize that the matter was serious, and this was not a regular case of a soldier trying to be exempt; he agreed to send him to the induction center, perhaps there they would agree to give him an exemption.

At the induction center the soldier began lecturing in his long reasoning, citing excerpts from the Zohar and from the sefer “˜Shomrei Emunim’, up to the point where they thought he was crazy and deemed unfit for service”¦ the decision granting him exemption from military service, was given much quicker than expected, but according to my guidance the soldier actually refused it and asked to continue serving his country, on condition that they place him in a division without girls, in a division where they are careful with kashrus and shmiras Shabbos etc.

Of course, his request was not granted, and this week the soldier received his exemption. We arranged activists to come meet him, and we left with joyful dancing.

In Tel Avivalast week there was a remarkable development with the opening of another beit chizuk branch.

It all began with two bachurim who came from a far neighborhood to the main branch. The boys who were doing very well asked that we open another branch in their neighborhood, for the rest of their friends who could not come to this one. The request was granted and they got the responsibility for the initial plans, and now, three weeks after its opening, there are fifteen new quality and serious students learning there.

Currently, activists from the original beit chizuk, are working double, and manage the new and old simultaneously.

In Pardes Katzin Bnei Brak, the beit chizuk mark another four successes;, four boys have left for yeshiva.

Eliezer Hilman

Visiting the Rabbonim

As part of the warm relationship that we maintain with the eighth grade students, and the support that we give them towards their entry into the yeshivos, in the next few days we will take the eighth grade boys from a Torani school in Ramot, Yerushalayim, to tour yeshivos in Yerushalayim, and in between we will visit with several prominent rabbonim, who will give them guidance for their entry into yeshivos.

We will visit R’ Sheinberg Shlita, R’ Uri Zohar, and time allowing the boys will visit the home of the Admor of Kaliv Shlita, for a bracha of hatzlacha and siyata dishmaya.

Strengthening Youth

“The Nori family lives here”

We received a call through the Acheinu call center, about a boy who’s interested in growing stronger. As with all such requests, the first thing we do is visit the home of the family in question to take a closer look at what is going on.

At the Nori home, we find Evyatar, a 17.5 year old boy, who meets the criteria of joining Acheinu he demonstrated a strong desire to be chozer b’teshuva. We enrolled him into yeshiva ˜Nezer Yehoshua’ in Pardes Katz.

It turns out that the story is not over yet. Following this boy were two of his younger brothers, who were a year and a half apart, one fifteen and a half and the other thirteen and a half, who wanted to be chozer beteshuva  as well and go to yeshiva. It was a special joy to accept these three boys, a family of chozrim bteshuva, who grew tremendously in the yeshiva. The three of them roomed together in the dormitory, almost as if a sign hung from the door saying “The Nori family lives here”.

Even the older activists of Acheinu, could not contain their excitement at the sight of three brother who are shteiging in learning, with indescribable enthusiasm.