By Shimmy Blum
On a recent trip to Eretz Yisrael, I had the opportunity to visit Yeshivas Acheinu in Har Nof. It was Friday afternoon, shortly before Shabbos. Wide smiles graced the faces of the yeshiva bachurim and the rebbeim as they engaged in boisterous debate over the nuances of Rashi, Tosafos, and Rishonim in the sugya of “Isho m’shum chetzyo.” I sat down with two bachurim and delved into the sugya and was blown away not only by their keen grasp of their limudim, but also by their refined, respectful demeanor.
The fact that this was a Yeshivas Acheinu, whose talmidim had been devoid of Torah and mitzvos not all that long ago, made it all the more special. As its rosh yeshiva, Rav Zev Hofstedter, shlita, explained, “You can literally write a book about every bachur in this beis midrash.”
Over 10,000 boys and girls have been brought under the wings of Torah through this organization over the past two decades. This year alone, Acheinu helped place 1,400 new students in the protective walls of various yeshivos.
Israeli children and teenagers of any background who do not merit a solid Torah education can be expected to have virtually no knowledge of Hashem and His Torah and are prone to the most decadent aspects of our global secular society.
Acheinu works to reach out to Israeli youth and lead them to become full-fledged bnei Torah, firmly rooted in Yiddishkeit. Acheinu’s unique multi-tiered outreach system has, b’ezras Hashem, enabled the organization to have an over 90% success rate in developing lost youth into earnest Torah Jews. The premier gedolei hador–past and present–have actively supported Acheinu. The revered elder mechanech, Harav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, zt’l, served as the organization’s nasi until his passing.
Shortly before Rosh Hashanah, I spoke to Acheinu’s exuberant kiruv coordinator, Rabbi Chaim Goldberg, who was immersed in opening yet another Yeshivas Acheinu, this time in Rechovot. This is in addition to the network of approximately 30 independent yeshivos and girls’ schools that are affiliated with Acheinu.
At batei chizuk youth centers across Eretz Yisrael, youth are offered a haven from the streets where they can interact with loving kiruv professionals and get acquainted with Torah true Yiddishkeit in a most pleasant way. The comprehensive mentoring program has qualified frum mentors building close relationships with youth, leading them towards healthy, viable Torah lives through their yeshiva years, marriage, and childrearing. Project Toronto targets children from secular or weaker religious backgrounds who attend Chinuch Atzmai or other religious elementary schools that do not continue into high school. Project Toronto reaches out to these students during their upper elementary years and helps acquaint them with life in a yeshiva high school through short and weekend visits to yeshivos and other methods
Yet another major catalyst for Acheinu’s increased reach, says Rabbi Goldberg, is its use of technology to spread the word of Hashem. Acheinu’s website offers youth in Eretz Yisrael a treasure trove of information regarding their questions and struggles with Yiddishkeit and a convenient medium through which to connect with Acheinu’s kiruv resources.
Rav Hofstedter managed to give me a small taste of some of the stories behind the radiant young bnei Torah around us. Every one of them was a living tale of struggle and triumph. The mother of one of the boys showed her son a bottle of prescription drugs and threatened to overdose if he went to yeshiva. Upon consultation with gedolim, the boy went to yeshiva; his mother is alive and well. One boy came to the yeshiva, but later chose to leave its uplifting surroundings. His father, who had vehemently fought his enrollment in yeshiva just a few months earlier, came pleading to the hanhalah to try to get him back in. He realized what a positive impact the yeshiva had.
The upcoming Acheinu Lakewood parlor meeting is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, January 22, at 8:30 p.m. The event is being hosted by Reb Binyomin Heinemann at his home, located at 327 Carey Street. HaRav Yitzchok Sorotzkin, shlita, the rosh yeshiva of Telshe, Mesivta D’Lakewood, will be the guest speaker. A delicious hot buffet will be served as well. All proceeds from the event will go directly to Israel to help an Acheinu child.
For dedication opportunities and more information related to the Acheinu Lakewood parlor meeting, please contact Acheinu’s executive director Rabbi Moshe Simcha Levine at 718-412-3540 or visit www.Acheinu.org. v