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Admor of Novominsk Appointed Head of Agudas Yisroel of America
76th Annual Convention of American Agudas Yisroel Conveys Strong Protest Against Recognition of the Reform

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

R' Elya Svei, rosh yeshiva of the Philadelphia yeshiva and a member of the American Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, announced the appointment of the Admor of Novominsk as the head of Agudas Yisroel in America in the name of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah during the main address he delivered on motzei Shabbos at the 76th annual convention of Agudas Yisroel of America. The main theme of the convention was the vision of the late Aguda leader Rav Moshe Sherer, z'l, and the void that his passing has left.

Thousands of people participated in this special event at which the country's prominent roshei yeshiva conveyed the messages of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America.

In his address, HaRav Elya Svei spoke at length about the ideological dangers facing Torah Jewry in the United States, and pointed to the list of issues which require strengthening. He warned the chareidi public to beware of the corrupt influence of America's environment, and of the media and secular literature, demanding that we vigilantly guard the chinuch of the younger generation. HaRav Svei also called upon the public to assist the organizations involved in Torah dissemination and kiruv work in the countries of the former Soviet Union. This aim, he stated, should be regarded as one of the most important of our times.

HaRav Svei pointed to the void which has been left in American Agudas Yisroel as a result of the petirah of Rabbi Moshe Sherer. "Many times during recent months, as I was contemplating various topics on the Jewish agenda, I would say to myself: `We must discuss this issue with Reb Moshe.' But he isn't with us any longer. Reb Moshe felt, with all his heart, that all public and individual problems were his own problems. He had a vigilant eye, which enabled him to observe well, to penetrate the depths of a problem and find its solution. Now we lack all this."

He then reminded the audience that throughout his life, Rabbi Moshe Sherer toiled to inculcate pure Torah outlooks and to oppose the uprooters of Torah, who seek to gain control of the Jewish nation. He did his utmost to effect the preeminence of gedolei Yisroel as leaders of the Jewish people, and to inspire the chareidi public to work together to achieve the important goals which face it.

HaRav Svei pointed to Rabbi Sherer's final mission, when he headed a delegation of prominent activists who came to Eretz Yisroel in order to warn its leaders about the danger of the Reform and the Conservative movements. As head of the delegation, Rabbi Sherer valiantly expressed the clear Torah outlook. Nonetheless, the problem still exists and is currently threatening the Jewish people in a most serious manner.

HaRav Svei added that all keenly feel Rabbi Sherer's absence, and sense the void formed due to his petirah. In this light, he was asked to announce in the name of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America, with the consent of the presidium and of all of the institutions of Agudas Yisroel of the United States, that it has been decided to ask the Admor of Novominsk to preside as the head of American Agudas Yisroel.

"It was difficult for us to ask one who is a leader of an entire community, and the head of a yeshiva, to assume another heavy burden. Nonetheless, we are referring to the need of the klal, which is a dovor shebekedusha. To our great joy, the Admor of Novominsk has accepted our request, and has agreed to serve as the head of American Agudas Yisroel."

HaRav Svei noted the merit of the great forbears of the Admor of Novominsk, and his mesiras nefesh in public matters, as well as his keen awareness of all of the missions which Klal Yisroel faces. HaRav Svei said that all this will enable him to succeed in his new undertaking as the guardian and champion of Agudas Yisroel in the United States. "We are not referring to the daily administration of the practical and professional activities of Agudas Yisroel. Immediately after the petirah of Rabbi Sherer, an outstanding team of three of the administrators of Agudas Yisroel's offices were chosen for this task: Rabbi Shmuel Bloom, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel and Rabbi Shlomo Gertzulin. From now on they will function under the direction and guidance of the Admor of Novominsk, and will benefit from his vigilance. By the same token, all questions on the agenda will continue to be posed to the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, and decided by it," said HaRav Svei.

He concluded by reiterating his hope and his blessing that the new appointment will benefit the klal and will result in the strengthening of our faith.

The Admor of Novominsk, a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah in America, and new head of America's Agudas Yisroel, called on the participants of the convention to internalize the words of chizuk which they had heard throughout the three days of the convention, and to resolve to strengthen themselves for the remainder of their lives. He delivered a speech in memory of Rabbi Sherer, saying that at the convention all felt that had Rabbi Sherer been present, he would have contributed greatly to all of the issues on the agenda. "Now he whose approach and opinion we so anticipated hearing is absent, and over this we grieve," said the Admor of Novominsk.

The Admor then reminded his audience that all of Agudas Yisroel of America, and all of its merits, bear the name of Rabbi Moshe Sherer, for Chazal have said, "Because he was moser nefesh for it, it is named after him. Who like him," he cried out, "was moser nefesh for the goal of establishing Agudas Yisroel in America. This is his everlasting memorial."

The Admor also noted the many merits of Rabbi Sherer who in his dedication to Klal Yisroel, increased kevod Shomayim and gave impetus to the idea of Torah's dominance in our daily lives.

He then said that during recent years, the Jews of Eretz Yisroel have had to live with terrorism and killings, and that we must remember that our only source of succor is Ovinu SheBashomayim. It is to Shomer Yisroel that we must turn in prayer, beseeching Him to guard "shearis Yisroel, ho'omrim Shema Yisroel."

However, he noted sadly, there are hundreds of thousands of children in Eretz Yisroel who don't say Shema Yisroel. Speaking in a similar vein, he pointed to the grave problem of the penetration of hundreds of thousands of non-Jews into Eretz Yisroel, a trend which is liable to result in intermarriages. He also stressed the obligation to be mekarev those of our brethren who are distant from Torah, and to save as many Jews as possible, bringing them back to their roots.

"In the wake of the visit of R' Aharon Leib Steinman and the Admor of Gur to the United States, we have merited to establish a special Chinuch Fund. This fund has already succeeded in building many Torah schools for the children of Eretz Yisroel, and in expanding the activities of the Chinuch Atzmai," the Admor noted. He also noted that the organization dealing with this matter is named after Rabbi Moshe Sherer, a merit which surely stands in his stead in the World of Truth.

Throughout the remainder of his speech, the Admor of Novominsk pointed to the outstanding development of Torah Jewry in the United States. However, he also warned against the dangers posed by breaches in the fences of modesty, as well as by the Internet and other factors. At the end of his speech, he thanked the members of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, and especially HaRav Elya Svei. He closed with the prayer, "Yehi rotzon shetishreh Shechina bema'asei yodeinu."

Rabbi Shmuel Bloom, vice-president of Agudas Yisroel of America, called on the convention's participants to join hands, as one man with one heart, for the sake of implementing the missions of our generation. "Everyone must feel like a soldier in an army whose purpose is to bring about a kiddush sheim Shomayim," he said. He also stressed the vital need to continue Rabbi Moshe Sherer's battle against the heretical streams, in the spirit of the delegation which set out last year to Eretz Yisroel, under the slogan "Am Echod," and met with the heads of the state and of the parties in the Knesset.

Rabbi Bloom added that in the wake of the decision of Eretz Yisroel's gedolei haTorah the UTJ party must resign from the government coalition if Reform delegates are included in the religious councils, American Jewry must protest the act of according uprooters of Torah a foothold in the country, by sending protest letters and telegrams to the heads of the Israeli government. Throughout the convention, portions of speeches delivered by Rabbi Sherer at various conventions, in which he warns against the danger of the Reform and Conservative movements, were sounded.

During the evening, the convention chairmen, Rabbi Ellis Safdiye and Rabbi Reuven Dov Dessler, as well as Rabbi Yechezkel Besser, a member of the presidium of American Agudas Yisroel, and Rabbi Shlomo Gertzulin, its vice- president, also spoke. Words of chizuk and his'orerus were delivered by R' Ephraim Wachsman, the rosh yeshiva of Adas Yerei'im of Monsey, and by R' Aharon Dovid Dunner, a dayan in the United Chareidi Kehilla of London.

At the opening session, as well as throughout the convention's deliberations, strong words of protest were expressed against the recent recognition granted to the Reform and Conservative movements by Israel's High Court through the precedent set by issuing a ruling requiring the inclusion of the delegates of these heretical movements in Israel's religious councils.

In the wake of the grave decision of Israel's High Court and the Israeli government to permit Conservative and Reform delegates to serve in the country's religious councils, it was decided to raise this topic on the convention's platform, and to warn the public against the serious spiritual danger imbedded in this development.

As is known, America's gedolei haTorah regard with utter gravity every attempt to grant backing and approval to the heretical streams, which have wreaked havoc on American Jewry and are now attempting to gain recognition in Eretz Hakodesh.

The 76th Annual Convention of American Agudas Yisroel opened on Thursday, the 7th of Kislev, in the presence of gedolei haTorah. It was attended by thousands of delegates and guests from all over the United States and Canada.

Early Thursday afternoon, a large thong filled the Hilton Hotel in Parsippany, New Jersey. Among the thousands in attendance were activists and senior public figures who occupy central positions in organized Torah Jewry in the United States.

The main theme of this year's convention was, "With Two Eyes: A View of the Past and a Vision for the Future." Its meetings and deliberations were dedicated to the memory of the illustrious leader of American Agudas Yisroel, Rabbi Moshe Sherer,zt'l, who was niftar last year.

The official opening of the convention, at which the gedolei haTorah delivered words of chizuk, took place early Thursday evening.

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel, vice-president of American Agudas Yisroel and the director of its Department for Governmental Affairs, led the opening session. In a heartfelt speech, he said that we are obligated to recall that Rabbi Moshe Sherer's main focus of activity was the battle to implant our faith in the tenet that "this Torah will not be replaced." He noted that this battle is especially crucial and vital in our times, when in Eretz Yisroel the Reform and Conservative are on the way to penetrating the religious councils, and in the United States, factors who called themselves "Modern Orthodox," are attempting to breach the halocho on the issue of agunos and on other issues.

HaRav Matisyahu Salomon, mashgiach ruchani of Lakewood, spoke about the obligation to instill our generation with the message of "ask your father, and he will tell you, your elders and they will say to you." He explained that the younger generation should be taught not to make decisions on its own, but rather to consult with the gedolei Torah on all matters. In this context, he referred to the great merit of Rabbi Moshe Sherer, who bequeathed the values of da'as Torah and emunas chachomim to the organized chareidi public of the United States.

HaRav Yissochor Frand, ram in Ner Yisroel of Baltimore and well-known speaker, stressed the obligation of every Jew to sanctify Hashem's Name at all times and in all situations, especially in our modern era, during which we are being called upon to prove how our sacred Torah guides the Jew in all aspects of his life.

HaRav Shimshon Sherer, the rav of the Zichron Mordechai community, delivered a stirring speech, filled with personal recollections of the intensive and colossal work of his father, the unforgettable leader of American Agudas Yisroel. He concluded by citing his father's will regarding public issues, saying that his father aspired to fortify the unanimity between all sectors of chareidi Jewry, and called upon it to join forces in accomplishing the important goals of our generation, and to unite in the struggle against the destroyers of our faith.

The convention's practical deliberations began Thursday afternoon, with a series of lectures and discussion groups which lasted for four consecutive days, and dealt with important topics on the agenda of chareidi Jewry in general and that of the United States in particular. Throughout the convention, gedolei haTorah conveyed their vital messages.

The annual convention of Agudas Yisroel, which has become a central event in the lives of the chareidi public of the United States, illustrates the organizational power of Agudas Yisroel of America, which has consolidated the entire American chareidi public, in all its various circles and strata, and promotes the ideal of a lifestyle conducted according to pure Torah outlook as guided by gedolei Yisroel. In light of Rabbi Sherer's many fruitful activities and his mesiras nefesh for the strengthening of Torah and the expansion of the borders of kedusha, this year's convention aspired to advance the plans and goals presented by him to organized chareidi Jewry in the United States.

Upon learning of the decision of maranan verabonon, the gedolei haTorah, to the effect that UTJ in Israel would resign from the coalition in the event that a Reform delegate is appointed to a religious council, American Agudas Yisroel decided to renew its broad public battle against the danger of the Reform.

As is recalled, last year a special delegation, headed by Rabbi Moshe Sherer, arrived in Israel in order to warn her heads of state about the danger of the heretical streams, especially in the wake of the deliberations taking place at that time in the Ne'eman Committee. The recent development on the matter of the religious councils has returned the topic to American Agudas Yisroel's agenda, and it was decided to continue the vital struggle against the destroyers of our faith with full force. It sees this as the fulfillment of Rabbi Moshe Sherer's public will.


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