Friday, September 23

Activity Report

For immediate release:
London, 26/03/2009

Very Successful Event for Aish HaTorah in Stamford Hill

Q.  English speaking presentation on Kiruv in the heart of Ultra-Orthodox Stamford Hill? 
A.  In what can be described as a shift in public attitude, the Aish HaTorah evening proved just that!  The response from the attendants and enquiries that kept pouring in during the run-up to - and after the event, filed the organisers with confidence. 
The Aish HaTorah gathering was dedicated to the revered memory of its founding father and world renowned mentor to thousands of devoted Talmidim, the late Rabbi Noach Weinberg OB"M, who was Niftar recently. 
It was chaired by Rabbi Chazkel Dovid Halberstam who eloquently explained the theme of this symposium: Our generation's ignorant Jew can be likened to the fourth son in the Hagadda, who doesn't ever realise that there are questions that need asking; that there are answers to be had. 
Indeed, fourth-generation immigrants to countries outside of Eastern Europe have lost their centuries long hallowed ID somewhere between Hamburg and Ellis Island or in the choppy waves linking Gdansk with Hull. 
The main guest speaker Dayan Yonason Abraham Shlita, of the London Beth Din enthralled the assembled crowd with his masterly crafted appreciation of the "Noach" of our generation, who single-headedly established a global organisation dedicated to Kiruv. 
The Dayan mesmerised all present with his heartfelt plea to enlist in the mammoth task of helping to save precious Jewish souls from being left behind in their ignorant lifestyle. 
Explaining the meaning of VeOhavto - the first word in the second verse of the Shema, he read out the words of the Rambam: Your love of HaShem should reach such a level that it will compel you to constantly expound on HaShem's goodness, causing others to love Him too. 
In quoting the promise of the Torah "Kee Lo Yedach Memenoo Nedach" כי לא ידח ממנו ידח that in these words the Holy Creator has codified a message for generations to come, that come what may, no נשמה may be given up as lost to the Jewish people. 
When describing Rabbi Weinberg's virtues, he presented the words of the Chovos HaLevovos that: those who bring people nearer to HaShem are on a higher level than the Nevi'im (Prophets)!  Rabbi Weinberg Ztzl, was attuned to the voice emanating from Sinai, the cry to arms for every Jewish person: "woe to those who let the Torah lie on the sidelines in shame". 
He felt the heartbeat of the Jewish people as a whole, he listened to the spiritual cries of millions of our brethren who were born into an environment devoid of any vestige of Yiddishkeit. 
In closing, the Dayan impressed upon his audience to take the cue from Reb Noach, become synthesised to the metaphysical sound waves wafting through the Jewish world, to constantly be 'online' and pick up the silent, passionate appeals for meaningful attention form our non-frum co-religionists. 
When travelling, shopping or going about your life in general, know that whomever you meet has the potential to become Torah observant - without you as much opening your mouth! Your actions speak more than you could ever imagine. 
By encouraging each and every one attending this auspicious meeting to become an ambassador for the Torah and its relevant-to-life teachings, the speaker then closed with an emotionally charged story, which brought home the concept that you don't have to be a Kiruv Professional to be Mekarev the Children to their Forefathers. 
Rabbi Shimshon Silkin of Aish HaTorah UK took the floor for the remainder of the evening. 
He welcomed the esteemed guest, Rabbi Yosef Dov Babad Shlita, Rav of the Belz Kehilla in London, who took time off his busy schedule to encourage such important cause. 
Rabbi Silkin then launched in a Halachic discourse, proficiently demonstrating the many Halachic sources one can find that point to this important life-saving act of leading Jews who are astray onto the right path of Torah and Mitzvos. 
He stressed the many Mitzvos and Chiyuvim DeOraisoh involved in Kiruv Rechokim – including the Rambam (Mitzvas Ahavas HaShem based on Gemoroh in Yuma and the Sifri) that to properly fulfil Ahavas HaShem one must demonstrate it by making Him beloved amongst the people. 
He also quoted the Rambam that the mitzvah of Kiddush HaShem means to spread awareness of HaShem amongst the people and to strengthen their Emunoh. 
Also the Chofetz Chaim in Chizuk HaDas says someone who wants to be respected in the next world will be asked if he was concerned for HaShem's Kovod in this world by disseminating the reality of His Metzius. 
Furthermore, Rabbi Silkin mentioned the Gemoroh in Rosh HaShana that a person can make Kiddush for another person even if already made Kiddush, because the responsibility of Kol Yisroel Areivim Zeh LoZeh goes so far as to say that if one person has not fulfilled the mitzvah then in a sense neither have I - even if a person has one Esrog but he knows of another town that does not, according to the Mogen Avrohom he must send his Esrog to them and borrow someone else's. 
Also the Shelo"h in Kedoshim says "Lo Sa'amod Al Dam Re'echoh" – "do not stand idly by when another Yid is dying", all the more so applies to saving his Neshomoh from Aveiroh; the Minchas Chinuch agrees to this and adds that if there is a Chiyuv DeOraisoh of returning a lost item, how much more so a lost soul; also the Chofetz Chaim quotes the Rambam that if one does NOT prevent a fellow Jew from sin when he could have, he is considered to have committed that very sin himself and according to the Ramban he falls into the category of Orrur, Chas VeSholom. 
Rabbi Silkin finished this part of his presentation with the Pituchei Chosom of the Chasam Sofer who says that Avrohom Ovinu did not manage to achieve the spiritual heights he would have liked because he was too busy being Mekarev Rechokim. 
So HaShem said "Hamechaseh Ani MeAvrohom?" Should Avrohom lose out? He was saving my children!" therefore HaShem gave him special Siyata DiShmaya to achieve those heights as a gift - so too, anyone 'losing out' their own learning or Shteiging by doing Kiruv, will be guaranteed by HaShem to achieve those levels anyway – he cannot lose out. 
Rabbi Silkin then went on to describe practical methods for getting more involved based on the acronym I-N-S-P-I-R-E.  I- he said, stood for Impress.  The most important thing is to be a Kiddush HaShem, make a good impression; N- nurture – make sure to take care of Talmidim, they are not scientific specimens but rather people deserving real Ahavas Yisroel; S- Shabbos, there is nothing like a Geshmakeh Shabbos meal. 
For those people reluctant to invite secular people into their homes for Shabbos, Rabbi Silkin suggested inviting them over during the week after the children are asleep; P- publications, give them books to read and inspirational CD's to listen to; send them something inspiring before Yom Tov; I- interest, take genuine interest in their lives; hear the questioner behind the question, try to understand what their lives are like and what they are going through; R- relationships; demonstrate to them how a Torah lifestyle is the answer to the broken world of relationships – and perhaps try and help them with theirs, E- email; a constant contact medium that's not too invasive and gives time for them to learn without being put on spot. 
The evening culminated with the screening of the audio-visual presentation "Inspired Too" which brought home the message that every observant Jew is capable of sparking interest in unaffiliated, seemingly uninterested people. 
The video described numerous examples of "chance" encounters which led to incredible results, demonstrating how easy it is to make a difference. 
People out there are just waiting for someone to talk to them in a friendly way. 
A few minutes conversation with a fellow passenger on a plane can change his life and that of his descendants LeDoros, earning the catalyst untold Zechusim. 
That plane trip might turn out to be a passport to more unexpected places than either had imagined. 

Special thanks were expressed to the many contributors: the shopkeepers who graciously spared precious window space, the cake and refreshments were likewise donated by Renbake and Carmel respectively, the management of the Shul who hosted the event and at last: the selfless volunteers who tirelessly helped with the logistics! 

The organisers are now preparing the sequel to this successful endeavour. 

You may have seen the above press release before, still we need urgent input as there are many concerned people who will put in many hours in order to help further this cause.
Menasche Scharf
00447974 160 252