Reports from the field,2/09/12

On a Mission

Acheinu Activist Reb Shmuel Horowitz was a man on a mission.  He was on his way to Cholon to speak to a salon owner about registering his two sons, aged 13 and 11, in a religious dormitory.

When he arrived at his destination, Reb Shmuel found a belligerent man, tattooed from head to toe, slouching on a couch, chain-smoking cigarettes – or possibly something more potent.  The decor of the salon was equally threatening:  knives, guns and swords covered the walls in a most intimidating display. 

Though unsure of how to get the message across, Shmuel refused to be daunted. “Hashem, these are your children too,” he quietly davened.  He spoke earnestly to the man about sending his sons to a religious dormitory.  Apparently Hashem was in that room with them, and He miraculously manipulated the conversation. 

Without warning, the father suddenly turned to his sons, and barked, “I spent enough time in jails in my life, and if I ever find you in jail, I’ll come personally and kill you!” 

Now Reb Shmuel was on to something!  Launching into a quick explanation of how the yeshiva dorm would keep the teens out of trouble (and jail), the father somehow agreed to send his sons to a religious school.   

The first part of the ordeal was over; but getting them into yeshiva was no easy feat. Upon being interviewed by the principal, the boys were found lacking. Neither had performed well and the younger child was especially behind.  With the two boys waiting outside the office, Horowitz begged, shouted and cajoled.  The principal agreed to take the older brother but not the younger one.   

When Horowitz warily reported this to the father, Hashem again came to the rescue.  “Tell them if they don’t take my younger son, they’re not going to take my older son either!,” the irate man bellowed.   

And that was the turning point for the principal. 

Needless to say the two boys, now earnest bochurim, are learning happily in Yeshiva ever since.  And if they ever visit jails in their lifetime, it would probably be in the role of the visiting Rabbi.

Model Growth

Among the finest and most accomplished talmidim in his yeshiva, David is a model student. It is all the more remarkable considering that he grew up in a non-religious family. His parents, who owned and ran a large and successful monument business together, sent David to be educated in non-religious schools. Raised in a non-religious environment, David was almost completely ignorant of yiddishkeit. Virtually everything he learned about his religion was gleaned from his sister who had become a ba’alas teshuva.

That was until David heard about Acheinu.

Listening to an ad on Israeli radio one day, David learned all about a fascinating organization called Acheinu. Spurred to action, David contacted the organization for guidance on becoming religious. Responding quickly to David’s eagerness, Acheinu provided David with a kollel yungerman to teach him Torah after school during the ensuing months.

As he became more involved in Torah learning, David developed an ardent desire to study Torah in a real yeshiva. Unfortunately, David’s father, unable to understand his son’s rejection of his own values, adamantly refused to financially or emotionally support David’s newfound concentration on Torah learning or even his secular studies.

Going on the offensive, the determined father even turned to an uncle of David’s, a television talk show host, for assistance. David’s father and uncle waged a public war against the Yeshiva and David’s decision to attend.

In the face of such a concentrated attack, even the avreich from Acheinu who was supporting David in his spiritual growth was uncertain if David was prepared for the rigors of attending Yeshiva full time. Determined to succeed and to follow the path that he had chosen for himself, David, at 16 years old,  went for his entrance exam to Yeshiva Nachalat HaTorah, a reputable mainstream Yeshiva.

Thanks to his own determination and months of tutoring and support from a dedicated team of Acheinu professionals  in the face of unrelenting and harsh criticism, David was accepted into the Yeshiva and he studies there today. Acheinu staff members maintain their contact with David to this very day, and derive the utmost nachas from his growth in Torah and yiddishkeit.