With a roster of special guests, a lineup of inspiring speakers, a palpable sense of kedusha and a spirit of achdus beyond compare, guests at the 95th annual convention of Agudath Israel of America will find themselves enjoying a truly memorable Shabbos.
From a Friday afternoon Toameha to the final notes of the ruach filled Melava Malka, the convention will be elevated to new heights during the most special day of the week, with a full array of heartwarming zemiros, meaningful drashas and sumptuous meals to enhance the true Shabbos spirit. The Friday night program will include a drasha by Rabbi Elya Brudny, Rosh Yeshiva, Mirrer Yeshiva, who will be introduced by Shlomo Werdiger, Chairman of Agudah’s Board of Trustees. This will be followed by an Oneg Shabbos featuring Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, Rosh HaYeshiva, Meor Yitzchok of Monsey. There will also be special inspiration by Rabbi Mordechai Becher, senior lecturer, Gateways, and concurrent sessions on addressing difficult issues with young adults, creating a culture of walking with Hashem and acquiring a greater appreciation for Shabbos.
Shabbos day will be packed with nourishment for both the body and the soul, with multiple minyanim and kiddushim. The davening will be graced by a drasha delivered by Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, Rosh HaYeshiva, Beth Medrash Govoha and member of the Moetzes Gedorlei HaTorah. A pair of mini keynote sessions, delivered by Rabbi Yaakov Bender, Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshiva Darchei Torah; Rabbi Aryeh Zev Ginzberg, Rav, Chofetz Chaim Torah Center; Rabbi Henoch Plotnik, Rav, Bais Tefila, Chicago; and Rabbi Moshe Weinberger, Rav, Agudath Israel of Flatbush; will discuss discovering every individual’s ability to improve the world, while concurrent sessions throughout the day will highlight preparing for shidduchim, dealing with difficult family issues and creating partnerships between schools and homes in addition to a special Q&A session with Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky, Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshiva Gedolah of Philadelphia and member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah. As always, the pinnacle of an already stellar Shabbos will be three concurrent men’s Shalosh Seudos meals. The English program will feature drashas by Rabbi Aharon Feldman, Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, Baltimore and member, Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah; Rabbi Yeshoshua Eichenstein, Rosh HaYeshiva, Yad Aharon, Yerushalayim. The Yiddish program will feature drashas by Rabbi Yosef Frankel, Vyelopolor Rebbe, and member, Moetzes Gedoeli HaTorah; Rabbi Kamenetzky and Rabbi Aron Weinberg, Magid Shiur, Khal Yismach Moshe Nirbater. The Lefkowitz Leadership Initiative will have its own program will include drashas by Rabbi Plotnik, and Rabbi Chaim Zvi Senter, Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshiva Aderes HaTorah, Yerushalyim.
Slovie Jungreis Wolff will be the speaker at the women’s kabbalas Shabbos and Rebbetzin Yael Kaisman will speak at the women’s Shalosh Seudos. They will also participate in a Friday night Q & A on contemporary issues, together with Rebbetzin Leah Feldman. The women’s Shabbos program will be rounded out with a session with Mrs. Wolf and Mrs. Leba Schwebel on Strengthening Ourselves to Strengthen Others.
As Shabbos gives way to another week, the convention’s energy will continue late into the night with an evening full of programming. There will be concurrent sessions on finding opportunities for Torah study, understanding the impact of the alt-right /alt-left movements and creating a proper balance between the ideal and the real in Jewish family dynamics. The Novominsker Rebbe will honor the convention with what is sure to be a powerful keynote session, followed by a special audio visual presentation and addresses given by Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president, Agudath Israel, Rabbi Wachsman, and Shia Markowitz, chief executive officer, Agudath Israel. The session will be chaired by Rivie Schwebel, convention chairman and member of Agudath Israel’s board of trustees.
Convention co-chairman Rabbi Dovid Schnell, President Emeritus, Agudath Israel of Illinois and member of Agudath Israel’s board of trustees, described Shabbos at the Agudah convention as an unparalleled experience.
“The ruach that you feel and knowing that everyone is coming together b’lev achas is truly unique,” said Rabbi Schnell. “Being able to sit in a room and to spend Shabbos with so many gedolim, rabbonim and roshei yeshiva is a golden opportunity to learn how to handle situations, how to approach issues and to make important connections, especially for those who live out of town.”
The nearly hundred year long tradition of having an annual Agudah gathering imbues the convention with a rich historical perspective, one that is important to pass on to the next generation, noted Rabbi Schnell.
“Understanding that the Agudah began with asifos with the Chofetz Chaim and the Gerrer Rebbe, and through the generations has included gedolim like Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky, Rabbi Yaakov Ruderman and others, is extremely important,” said Rabbi Schnell. “Knowing that at any Agudah convention things of tremendous toeles can come out that can be of significant practical help to klal yisroel is part of what makes the convention so special.”