Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

26 Tishrei 5761 - October 25, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Large Gathering in Brooklyn Davens for Klal Yisroel's Safety
by Avi Shafran

No one knew whether to expect hundreds or thousands when revered roshei yeshiva, including the members of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Agudath Israel of America, decided on erev Sukkos to call for a Chol Hamoed outdoor atzeres tefilla on behalf of embattled and threatened Jews around the world.

Though the situation in Eretz Yisroel -- and the dozens of antisemitic attacks in Europe and the United States that have accompanied it -- were certainly weighing heavily on Jewish hearts during the days leading up to yom tov, it was far from certain that a large number of Yidden would turn out to join in a communal Mincha and Tehillim recital on the first day of chutz la'aretz's Chol Hamoed. Not only was there precious little time to notify rabbonim and the general public about the gathering, but a host of daunting technical arrangements had to be made -- from arranging police clearance and security, to installing a suitably powerful sound system, to erecting a tent for the rabbinic dignitaries, to coordinating the press.

And yet, Klal Yisroel from throughout the New York area (and from as far away as Lakewood and Baltimore), with logistical assistance from the dedicated staff of Agudath Israel of America, packed Borough Park's 15th Avenue -- from 46th Street until 50th Street, with Jewish men on one side of the street, Jewish women on the other -- numbering, according to police estimates, approximately 10,000 souls.

The first order of the massive afternoon gathering was Mincha, and Rabbi Manis Mandel, the founder and menahel of Yeshiva of Brooklyn, served as shliach tzibbur. Davening was followed by heartfelt recitation of selected Tehillim, posuk by posuk, responsively with the tzibbur.

The Tehillim recitation was led by the Klausenberger Rebbe; Rabbi Simcha Bunim Ehrenfeld, the Mattesdorfer Rov; Rabbi Yitzchok Baal-Haness, Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community of Shiraz, Iran; Rabbi Simcha Schustal, rosh hayeshiva Yeshiva Bais Binyomin, Stamford, Connecticut; Rabbi Eliezer Eichler, the Boyaner Rov; Rabbi Yekusiel Bittersfeld, rosh hayeshiva Yeshivas Harbotzas Torah- Zichron Schneur; Rabbi Shmelka Leifer, the Chuster Rebbe; and Rabbi Yosef Frankel, the Vyelepoler Rebbe. Each of the participating rabbinic personages was announced by Agudath Israel's Rabbi Avrohom Nisan Perl.

Also present at the asifa were many other leading rabbinic figures, including the Bluzhever Rebbe, the Bobover Rebbe, the Rachamstrivker Rebbe, Rabbi Menashe Klein, Rabbi Aharon Schechter, rosh hayeshiva Yeshivas Rabbi Chaim Berlin and the Novominsker Rebbe, the Rosh Agudath Israel of America.

Oblivious to the staccato beat produced by a police helicopter hovering overhead, the gathering used Dovid Hamelech's words to implore Hakodosh Boruch Hu to protect His people from their enemies and to return His Shechina to their midst. At the conclusion of the Tehillim recitation, the Skulener Rebbe led the large crowd in the kabolas ohl Malchus Shomayim that ends Ne'ila on Yom Kippur. The roar of the assemblage at that point was overwhelming, and will not soon be forgotten by anyone who was fortunate to be present.

Similar gatherings took place on the first day of Chol Hamoed as well, in a number of other American cities, including Chicago, Milwaukee and Worcester, Massachusetts; others took place several days earlier in cities like Baltimore and Sacramento, California; others still were planned for coming days, like in Dallas and Los Angeles.

In New York, it had rained lightly earlier in the day, and the sky remained heavily overcast throughout the proceedings. Not a drop of rain, though, fell upon the crowd, leading Agudath Israel executive vice president Rabbi Shmuel Bloom to note that while rain is usually a siman brocho, it is not at all so during Sukkos.

He went on to voice his fervent hope -- the hope, undoubtedly, of the ten thousand other Jews around him -- that the dry atzeres tefilla would signify acceptance of the tefillos that were offered, and prove to be a harbinger of besuros tovos for all of Klal Yisroel.


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