Reports From The Field, 5/23/10

The Yeshiva Hakedosha

Sheva Brachos for our first chosson

On Sunday the yeshiva held a sheva brachos for the first chosson who graduated from the yeshiva, who merited in marrying a chareidi girl from Beis Yaakov. The Rebbeim and staff of the yeshiva were invited to an emotional event musically accompanied by a group of volunteer bachurim from Yeshivas Heichal Hatorah; the atmosphere was electrifying. In course of the meal the chosson got up and delivered an uplifting speech in which he described with deep emotions his life; his return to teshuva and his entrance into the yeshiva, which completely transformed his life in all aspects. The guests sat and listened spellbound until the very happy ending; with his parents reaping nachas from the path their son has chosen.

A dinner for our guests from Rishon LZion

On Wednesday we hosted in the yeshiva a group of 55 bachurim who are learning in five medrashiot in Rishon LZion. The visit included a dinner, a fascinating shiur, and lively dancing with the bachurim in the yeshiva.  ×ž×”רשיות הראשל”צ. האירוח
 Seudas Siyum

On Thursday, together with thirty boys who are learning in medrashiot in Kiryat Gat, we celebrated the completion of the third perek of masechas gittin in shiur bekius.

Hayeshiva L’Ziirim

The boys wanted to be in the yeshiva for Shavuous and they succeeded

This week once again we were able to see how deep a relationship the boys have with the yeshiva, and how much they enjoy it, up to the point where they are ready to give up a holiday with their family in order to be in the yeshiva.

By mid-week, the plan was for the bachurim to spend the holiday at home. The decision was based on a clear agreement, to forcefully keep the boys in the yeshiva, and not allow them to go home, is like asking them to go up to heaven”¦ Imposing a feeling of suffocation on them, may cost us dearly, and we’ll lose all that we’ve gained thus far. After all, at home they make a BBQ, and let loose a bit, despite the fact that on Lag Baomer we did keep them in the yeshiva, with a fun and exciting program, this time we decided to let them go home.

It turns out that this decision was too rash”¦

Towards the end of the week a bachur came over to me and asked to stay in the yeshiva for Shavuous”¦ According to him, all the time is spent preparing them and explaining to them that the Holiday Shavuos is a Torah holiday that should be filled with Torah learning, and suddenly they are told to go home, where they spend the holiday having water fights, and other games, which have absolutely nothing to do with learning Torah.

Although I saw that the boy was earnest, I still did not think of opening the yeshiva for a single boy. Seeing this, he turned to me and assured me that he is already organizing a group of bachurim who will stay in the yeshiva for the holiday. I agreed, but on condition that he tell his friends that staying in the yeshiva includes with it a promise that they will not talk after the evening meal, for the whole night which is dedicated for learning until after davening in the morning; all in all something like a 12 hour taanis dibbur.

Surprisingly, that same day he came to me with a list of about thirty bachurim who wanted to stay in the yeshiva, despite all the strict conditions…

The bachurim therefore won, and I wish them with all my heart more such victories”¦

Attention in the Yeshivos

Saved at the last minute

Earlier this week we received an urgent call for help from Yeshivas Mishkan Shimon, where a young bachur is learning, a recent immigrant from Yemen, who immigrated to Israel with his brother. Already upon his arrival at the yeshiva it was apparent that this boy, who grew up in an Arabic culture, suffers from severe discipline and behavior problems. When he was in the secular framework their method was to “keep him confined’, and here in the yeshiva framework he felt free to do whatever he wanted, from the violent and dangerous to the chutzpah.

This week the boys crossed all the red lines, leading to the decision that that is it. They were going to bring an end to the story and send him out of the yeshiva, without delay, before g-d forbid he could hurt other boys.

Two of our activists in the yeshiva, who work together with the rebbeim and staff, came into the thick of things and asked them to give the boy another chance, promising that the boy will come under their personal care thereby taking upon themselves the responsibility of turning him into a decent person.

And this was what happened.

At the end of the week the Rosh Hayeshiva contacted the activists with admiration, to report of the drastic change in the behavior of this boy who they were ready to expel. “The boy got himself together, and turned over a new leaf. Thank you for pressuring me to keep him”¦”

The Rosh Hayeshiva did not know this; behind the scenes we promised the boy cash prizes, and lottery tickets, if he would only behave properly. Of course the boy did not want to lose out on all this, and controlled himself to win these much desired prizes, which gave him the strength to continue. We can only hope that it will continue this way in the future.

Incidentally, these two boys from Yemen have relatives in Rechovot, who are non-observant. Of course, for vacations and holidays we work on finding an alternative place for them to stay; through  kupat hair of Bnei Brak we got funding for them to stay at the home of one of the rebbeim of the yeshiva, who saw to their needs and took care of them.

Project Toronto

Activists attend the parent conference

The chinuch hatzmai schools mark new progress; Achienu activists sat alongside the teachers and principals at the parent conference held last week, and presented the parents with the progress of their child.

The activists, who are mentoring the students and have been in contact with them since the beginning of the year, actively assisted the school staff, with the unofficial purpose of their joining the conference being  to add another element of persuasion on the parents to send their children to learn in the yeshiva.

B”h we saw tremendous siyata dishmaya and success, and we managed to enthuse the principals and teacher who themselves did not view learning in the yeshiva as so vital, and did not see it fitting to bring up such arguments with the parents, and so we brought about such impressive and exciting results together.

One of the principals who at first was pessimistic, claiming that he had no power of influence, when he saw the devotion of the Acheinu activists, and the efforts they invest, he finally came around and devoted another half an hour a day to try and soften the parents, saying to the activists, “If you came, then I also have to come”¦”

Retrospectively we proved our initial theory, this method is by far better than a stressful home visit, when the parents look at you like someone coming to kidnap their child from them. In such a situation you need the mercy of the parents, who tend to underestimate what you have to say. But here, sitting on padded leather chairs together with the principals and educators, and the parents sitting across the table on the student’s low chair, you suddenly get the respect, and thus your words are more powerful and influential and penetrate further.

Strengthening Youth

A visit to R’ Shteinman Shlita

On Wednesday evening, as part of the chizzuk trip during which we visited  the Ponovezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak and various yeshivos for baalei teshuva, we also included a visit to Maran R’ Shteinman Shlita with a group of four boys, the elite of the medrashia in Kiryat Gat.

The Rav inquired about the happenings of the medrashia, and among everything we told R’ Shteinman that these boys are very diligent and are already looking forward to going to yeshiva, but one thing is holding them back; their parents. They vehemently oppose the idea. We asked the Rav how much we should fight for it, should we pull the rope to the very end which may cost us a tear i.c cutting off the boy from his parents, and most importantly the boy will learn in yeshiva , or should we allow the boys to continue learning in the medrashia hoping that the parents will soften over time.

In response the Rav turned to the boys and asked them their respective ages. The ages ranged from fifteen to seventeen and a half. The Rav answered them, “You are still too young for battles. Wait a bit, until eighteen, then go to yeshiva, because only then are you old enough to deal with the pressure of your parents, but at a younger age it is not definite that you can hold out, so it is better that you continue strengthening in the medrashia.”

The boys left the visit with heavy impressions, reinforced for the next period of time.