How often does one get an opportunity to meet a hero? On Wednesday, October 16, the seventh and eighth grades of TAG’s junior high school, as well as the high school, were privileged to have that opportunity and hear from noted Russian refusenik R’ Yosef Mendelevich.
Rabbi Mendelevich spoke of growing up in Communist Russia as an unaffiliated Russian Jew. He passionately described how the realization and appreciation of what it means to be Jewish came to pass. After his attempted escape from Russia via a hijacked plane, he was imprisoned for 11 years! It was during that time in prison, when a Russian officer interrogated him and suggested he become just like any other Russian, that R’ Mendelevich understood how much he needed and wanted to hold on to his Yiddishkeit. This led to his deep commitment and great mesirus nefesh to keep kashrus and Shabbos and to daven daily throughout his years in prison. He viewed those years as a wonderful gift from HaKadosh Baruch Hu who gave him this time to fully appreciate what it means to be a Yid.
The girls were deeply moved and awed by his story and a lively question-and-answer session followed his talk. At the conclusion, Mrs. Aliza Kadosh, principal of limudei kodesh in TAG High School, spoke to the girls. She took this opportunity to emphasize girls that they too demonstrate their heroism when they are moser nefesh for their Yiddishkeit as they fight the many outside influences in today’s world that are antithetical to what we believe in as Yidden. They are the heroines of today’s generation.
Many thanks to Mrs. Arielle Wolfson, who sponsored this truly memorable event. v