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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.