By: Sandy Eller
Shul Rabbanim from across the US and Canada participating in Agudath Israel of America’s Virtual Asifas Rabbanim

Top: L-R Rabbi Avrohom Nisan Perl,Rabbi Eliyahu Simcha Bamberger,Rabbi Chaim Meir Roth
Middle: L-R Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum,Rabbi Labish Becker,Rabbi Shmuel Zvi Berkowicz
Foot: Rabbi David Ozery
A high res version of the images above is available for download here or by clicking on the image.

Sometimes the best lessons are those learned outside the classroom.

Thankfully, having finally arrived at a point where post-pandemic life is slowly beginning to take shape and shuls have started opening their doors in a limited fashion, Klal Yisroel finds itself poised at a unique crossroads, one that is unprecedented in modern times. As our Rabbonim nationwide begin to lead us back to our regular routines, the Agudas Yisroel Conference of Shul Rabbonim hosted a virtual asifah, organized at the request of Shul Rabbonim nationwide, to crystallize the outbreak’s positive messages and encourage their kehillos to carry that momentum forward.

The 200 Rabbonim from all across the country who participated in the Zoom teleconference were galvanized by messages of exceptional growth in the face of tremendous hardship. Tenacity was the theme of the day, with Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum relating Rabbi Moshe Sherer’s analogy that compared a Yid to a teabag, its flavor only fully developing when placed in hot water, and tasking listeners to continue rising to the challenge as the next chapter of life unfolds. Rabbi Chaim Meir Roth echoed those thoughts, saying that the many restrictions imposed by authorities actually empowered Klal Yisroel, giving each of us a golden opportunity to appreciate the real meaning of tefilah b’tzibur and to understand the true simchah of a bar mitzvah or a chasunah.

Rabbi David Ozeri told stories of extraordinary generosity, describing the unusual circumstance of witnessing the exhumation of seven coronavirus victims who had been buried temporarily until they could be transferred to Eretz Yisroel. After having their aronos prepared for their final journey, all seven were transported on a private airplane for kevurah, with the entire cost of transportation covered by a community member who has interests in the airline industry.

The importance of strong relationships was also addressed, with Rabbi Shmuel Tzvi Berkovicz describing how he paid socially distanced visits to over a dozen families every Shabbos during the lockdown. He described how fellow Rabbonim have been stepping into the shoes of their balabatim, offering essential support and assistance to those undergoing difficulties, in order to lighten their load. Presenters also shared helpful shalom bayis tips and emphasized the importance of modeling positive behavior to wean children off the technology that has become part of many our youngsters’ lives during the outbreak.
Being able to help facilitate assistance for the Rabbonim in their avodas hakodesh is a privilege that the Agudah takes very seriously, noted Rabbi Eliyahu Simcha Bamberger, national director of the Agudah’s Daf Yomi Commission, who coordinated the event along with Rabbi Avrohom Nisan Perl, national director of the Agudah’s Commission on Torah Projects.

“There is such a wealth of talent among our Rabbonim, who hail from all backgrounds, representing the entire spectrum of our communities,” said Rabbi Bamberger. “The pivotal role they play in Klal Yisrael, shouldering responsibility for their kehillos, highlights the true privilege and zechus it has been for Agudas Yisroel, to facilitate ongoing interactions between our dedicated Rabbonim.”

“Going into lockdown has led us to a new realization of how much guidance we receive from our esteemed Rabbonim,” added Rabbi Perl. “To hear how they gave and continue to impart of themselves so selflessly over the last few months is a lesson that we all need to take to heart.”