Friday, June 20, 2014

Monsey Community Unites In Prayer For Kidnapped Israeli Boys

R' Bamberger, R' Avrumi Jordan in center (organizer of event)
by Sandy Eller

Over 1200 men and boys gathered Thursday night at Provident Bank Park just north of Spring Valley for an evening of prayer for the three teens kidnapped in Israel. 
Participants ran the gamut of the religious spectrum, ranging from teens in white crocheted kippot, to boys in black jackets and hats, to chasidic men in black bekeshes, but all were united in their mission to storm the heavens with tefillos for the safe return of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach.
The event, which featured just Mincha, Maariv, Tehillim and zemiros by singer Simcha Leiner, was pulled together in two days and several participants remarked that they had just learned of the gathering on the Monsey bus on their way home from work.
“We have spent days sitting here in pain because of our missing boys and we knew we had to do something as a community,” said Avrumy Jordan, senior vice president at Ash and Crew and chief marketing officer at Evergreen, who organized the event.  “We needed to come together and tell Avinu Shebashomayim that we are all his children and we need our boys to come home.”

“It is extremely refreshing to see how many people came together in such a short time,” said Rockland County legislator Aron Wieder.  “It shows the achdus of klal yisroel.”
Both Daniel Stern of New City and Jared Kulak of New Rochelle, recent graduates of the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, felt a strong kinship with the three kidnapped boys. Stern plans to continue this studies in Israel next year, while Kulak, who is enrolled at the University of Michigan for the fall semester, hopes to persuade his parents to let him join the IDF instead.
“They are like our brothers and we are praying for their safe return, doing our part in terms of prayer and advocacy in the hopes that they come back safe,” said Stern.
chdus and unity were the themes of the night and a small group of women who were unaware that the gathering was for men and boys only remained at the gates of the stadium so that they too could offer their prayers for the teenage boys.  Two of the women were wrapped in Israeli flags.
“If you look around you see Chasidim, you see people with big and small yarmulkas, you see people with colored shirts it seems that on this issue, we are united,” observed Rabbi Ronald Greenwald.  “How can we not be on an issue like this?  Halevay we should be united on so many other issues that also affect us as a Jewish people.”
“A gathering like this is so beautiful because it shows the achdus of klal yisroel,” said Rabbi Aron Fink, principal of Ateres Bais Yaakov.  “It doesn’t matter what stripe you are what color yarmulka you have, what color tzitzis you have.  Big hat, no hat, black hat, it means that you show and you care, that is the strength of the Jewish people.”
The kidnapping hit home for the many boys and teens in attendance.
“The fact that these boys are my age is so emotionally jarring and it hurts me so much,” said 18 year old Akiva Gottleib, who will be attending Yeshiva Kerem B’Yavenh next year and admitted that the kidnappings have him shaken.  “This really hits me at the bottom of my heart and really tests your faith.”
“It is hard to relate because we live in America but you feel it more when it is someone your own age, especially when he is an American citizen,” added 17 year old Ary Katzenstein.
Some expressed their dismay at the lack of public outcry regarding the kidnappings.
“They are saying the same Tehillim tonight that Jews said as they marched to the gas chambers,” said Dr. Bill Schwart.  “No one cared about Jews then and I just hope that more people care about us now.”
Others viewed the gathering as an important display of solidarity with the families of the missing boys.
“It is important for us to get together, to show support, to daven and I hope that the families in Eretz Yisroel know that we here in Monsey are thinking of them,” said Rabbi Yisroel Gottleib.
“I can’t imagine what the parents and the family are going through but I think tonight we see it’s not just an issue of Israel but of the people here in the United States,” said Christopher St. Lawrence, supervisor of the Town of Ramapo.  “This outpouring is cathartic for the community and it gives hope that Hashem will hear these prayers.”
Several relatives of the Frenkel family, all of whom asked to remain anonymous, were in attendance.  A clearly emotionally distraught uncle said that seeing the masses of strangers who turned out at the event was a great source of chizuk and a cousin noted that the family is “broken but carrying on with incredible dignity.”
The evening began with Mincha, led by Rabbi Shamai Blobstein of Machon Tiferes Bachurim with the first two perakim of Tehillim, which were read responsively, led by an uncle of Naftali Frenkel.
The remaining Tehillim were led by Rabbi Benzion Bamberger of Yeshiva Ohr Reuven, Rabbi Simcha Bunim Berger of Yeshiva Gedola of Bridgeport and Yeshiva Ohr Reuven, community activist Rabbi Ronald Greenwald, Rabbi Eliezer Lieff of Yeshiva Gedola of South Monsey and Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Moskowitz of Kehillas Borov.
The event concluded with two songs by Simcha Leiner and Maariv, led by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, founder and director of Project Y.E.S. The large stadium screen alternated between pictures of the three young men, their names, live footage of the davening and the words “Avinu Malkeinu, p’sach shaarei shomayim l’sfilaseynu.
According to event organizers, a few hundred people tuned in watch the event which was streamed live.
Hatzolah, Chaveirim and local police were all on hand for the gathering.
Leiner noted that he found the gathering to be incredibly moving.
“As a singer, typically I have the responsibility to inspire, but tonight, I felt the exact opposite: I was inspired by those around me.”
Rabbi Horowitz said that he hoped that tonight’s events will be a catalyst for positive developments in this terrible episode.
“All week long I have been wondering what the Berdichev Rov, who was known to be the defense lawyer of the Jewish people, would he say in response to these prayers,” said Rabbi Horowitz.  “I think he would say, ‘Master of the Universe, look at how your diverse children are getting together as one to daven to you. Grant them the zechus of seeing these three beautiful children coming home so that we can rejoice together.’”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how rabbi bambeger was put up there. He was kicked out of his shul in flatbush and recently has been involved in destroying many marriages.