The news out of Eretz Yisroel in recent weeks is at once heartbreaking and all too familiar. Our brethren who live there go about their daily lives, but they feel besieged and fearful of what the next day will bring.
The scene was virtually identical at the beginning of the last decade, with suicide bombings a frequent occurrence.
It was at that time that Agudath Israel of America, with the encouragement and support of Gedolei Yisroel both in the US and Eretz Yisroel, launched its annual Yarchei Kallah program. Now, details for the 16th annual Yarchei Kallah have been announced, offering acheinu bnei Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel a larger, more powerful chizuk from their American brethren than ever before.
The Yarchei Kallah will iy”H take place beginning on Monday, Rosh Chodesh Shvat through Thursday (January 11-14) at the Ramada Hotel in Yerushalayim. Organizers anticipate that participation in this year’s Yarchei Kallah will surpass the record participation of last year’s program, which drew 250 men and 75 women.
Can we comprehend the chizuk this gives to the yidden of Eretz Yisroel?
The fact that hundreds of successful American and European businessmen and professionals take a full workweek off in order to learn Torah in Eretz Yisroel – when others fear to go – is extraordinary. The fact that the program grows from year to year, regardless of external circumstances, only strengthens the chizuk and powerful statement this makes.
Every year, a prominent hotel is turned into a citadel of Torah. These visitors do not utilize
their limited time to tour, but rather to learn with the fervor and dedication of a kollel yungerman. There is a steady stream of shiurim from a cross section of leading gedolei Yisroel and marbitzei Torah from Eretz Yisroel.
Even the revered talmidei chachamim of Eretz Yisroel are awestruck by the Yarchei Kallah program. When the original Yarchei Kallah was proposed, HaRav Aharon Leib Steinman shlit”a wondered why it could not be held in the US. He was told that the participants wouldn’t be able to immerse themselves in Torah at the same level as they could in Eretz Yisroel. In addition to its unique spiritual environment, the seven hour time difference in Eretz Yisroel enables businesspeople to delay necessary business activities until after a full day of learning. Rav Aharon Leib then enthusiastically supported the idea, and made a point of personally visiting from Bnei Brak almost every year.
HaRav Dovid Cohen shlit”a, Chevroner Rosh Yeshiva, calls the program “Yeshivas Ramada.” A long list of other gedolim, including HaRav Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi shlit”a; HaRav Yitzchok Scheiner shlit”a; HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein shlit”a; the Viznitzer Rebbe shlit”a, personally delivered shiurim/shmuesen at last year’s event. Each speaker and observer articulated a heartfelt appreciation for how the program inspires them and everyone around them.
As these lines are written, Agudath Israel of America askanim are working in tandem with the gedolei Torah of Eretz Yisroel to compile another amazing Yarchei Kallah. The Sugya of Tzitzis will be learned, with beautifully prepared marei mekomos and a schedule of shiurim from extraordinary maggidei shiur – with separate tracks for Yiddish and English speakers. A superb program for women – combining inspiration and leisure activities – is being worked on as well.
“Someone recently asked me whether the gedolim of Eretz Yisroel have ‘okayed’ the idea of yidden traveling to Eretz Yisroel these dangerous times,” relates Rabbi Shlomo Gertzulin, Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration at Agudath Israel. “We actually organize this program at the behest of the gedolim, and they are more excited than ever to greet us. We look forward to being there too, b’ezras Hashem.”
(Author: Shimmy Blum)