Hundreds of men from all over the world are getting ready for a life changing experience in Eretz Yisroel, taking a break from their everyday routine to spend five incredible days completely immersed in the world of Torah at Agudah’s 17th annual Yerushalayim Yarchei Kallah.
The Agudah Yerushalayim Yarchei Kallah was founded during the very sad period of the first Intifada in the year 2000. The askonim of Agudah were looking for a way to show solidarity and support with the embattled Yidden in Eretz Yisroel. Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman was asked the best way to do so. His advice was based on the Chazal that says “Torah magna umatzla,” Torah is a shield and saves. He advised bringing a group of people to Eretz Yisroel who would devote a week to intensive Torah learning in the avira d’machkim of Eretz Yisroel. Following the advice of this revered Gadol B’Yisroel, Agudah’s Yerushalayim Yarchei Kallah was born. It continues in this sacred mission to this day.
“Rav Shteinman made it clear that those who come should participate in a full learning program, gaining chizuk for themselves and giving chizuk to others,” said Rabbi Eliyahu Simcha Bamberger, Director, AIA’s Daf Yomi Commission and one of the Yarchei Kallah organizers.
In its inaugural year, between 30 and 40 people attended the Yarchei Kallah which took place in the shul of the Ramada Yerushalayim. Over the years, the program outgrew its initial home and moved into one of the large ballrooms of the hotel. Eventually a second ballroom was added to accommodate the large overflow. More than 300 participants are expected to take part in this year’s five day event being held from Sunday, January 15th through Thursday, January 19th. While in its early years most participants hailed from the east coast of the United States, the Yarchei Kallah has grown and now attracts bnei Torah from Canada, Mexico, Europe and Eretz Yisroel, in addition to the United States.
“We have a full cross section of people, from all walks of life: professionals, business people and klei kodesh,” noted Rabbi Avrohom Nisan Perl, Director, AIA’s Torah Projects Commission. “We have many fathers and sons – we even have some families coming with three generations to grow in learning together!”
Although the program takes place in January, many participants begin reviewing the material several months in advance as soon as the sugya being studied is announced. Sources listed on the Yerushalayim Yarchei Kallah website and preparatory shiurim given both live and by teleconference help participants gain mastery over the material to further enhance their learning during the Yerushalayim Yarchei Kallah.
The unique YYK experience:
Traveling overseas can be daunting to some, but holding the Yarchei Kallah in Yerushalayim has numerous advantages.
“Of course going to Eretz Yisroel is always appealing but one of the biggest attractions is that, because of the time difference, until 4 PM there is no office or other business activities to distract participants from their learning. The complete immersion of the participants in their Torah learning is admirable. Two of the attendees were once overheard in conversation; the first inquired as to how the stock market was doing that day. The answer immediately came, “My goal here is to concentrate on my learning. I don’t even want to know!”
Another advantage to being in Yerushalayim is having access to a wealth of prominent gedolei Torah, roshei yeshivah, poskim and magidei shiur. Renowned rabbonim have been a crucial part of the Yerushalayim Yarchei Kallah from the very beginning. Among those who are already confirmed for this year are Rabbi Dovid Cohen, Rabbi Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi, Rabbi Pinchos Friedman, Rabbi Boruch Dov Povarsky, Rabbi Asher Weiss and Rabbi Yitzchok Zilberstein.
The program is modeled after the typical yeshiva schedule, with a full day of learning and shiurim. In addition, a comprehensive English program is offered, making the Yarchei Kallah accessible to an ever larger amount of people.
“When you walk into the room you see hundreds of people sitting and learning,” said Rabbi Labish Becker, Executive Director of Agudas Yisroel. “The atmosphere is electric. One can feel the rischa d’Oraysa and the true joy of learning in the full sense of the word.”
Another important aspect of the Yarchei Kallah is the women’s program, which features touring of many important historical sights and attractions. In addition, there is a vibrant lecture and shiurim program featuring prominent speakers and mechanchos.
“The Yarchei Kallah, every year, like a good wine, gets better and better,” said Aaron Herzog of Montreal after attending last year’s Yarchei Kallah, his eighth.
Marty Mayer of Passaic, who has attended more than ten Agudah Yarchei Kallah, described the 2016 program as “a tremendous chizuk for the whole year.”
This year’s Yarchei Kallah will delve into the fascinating sugya of Lulav Hagazul, and deal with various issues relating to the daled minim. An original audio-visual presentation clarifying many of the important issues being studied will be a highlight of the program.
A prime mission of the Torah Projects Commission of Agudas Yisroel is to ensure that those who are now in the working world have opportunities to thrive in their limud haTorah. “That is why,’ said Rabbi Perl, ‘both the Daf Yomi and Yarchei Kallah are such an important part of the work of Agudas Yisroel.”