Pomona, NY – Despite being conceived and executed in less than 48 hours, taking place on Erev Shabbos and conflicting with the countless events and simchas that are planned months in advance for this time of year, Thursday night’s groundbreaking Atzeres Tefila drew over 1500 mispalllim as well as thousands more who despite time differences etc, joined from around the world to “attend” via the live stream.
The event had the support of local askanim, community leaders and numerous area Rabbonim as well as nationally revered Gedolim. Actually, the most impressive “approval” came literally from the above, as the clouds and rain that plagued the morning and afternoon changed into bright sunlight in time to “welcome” attendees.
Despite the lack of speeches and presentations that are normally integrated into events of this nature, the highly emotional program which ran about an hour consisted of mincha, tehillim, a moving performance by Simcha Leiner and Ma’ariv. Numerours leaders and dignitaries who were in attendance were not there in any official capacity but instead as “civilians”– Jews concerned for their brethren-a fact that did not go unnoticed by relatives of Naftali Frenkel (one of the captured teens) who came for the same reason everyone else did-to daven for their safe and speedy return. While the demanding time frame made for possible logistical challenges, law enforcement and county legislators worked tirelessly with grass roots groups like Chaverim and Hatzoloh to ensure a smooth, seamless evening. In short, everyone involved sensed the unique nature of the Atzeres and wanted to be a part of its success.
“The achdus and chizuk which motivated thousands of people to put aside plans and participate, came from more than the inherent sense of caring that defines us as a people and the unshakable belief that “tshuva, tefila and tzedaka can alter any gezeyra”, it came from the realization that these aren’t someone else’s sons and brothers-they’re our family, because regardless of how we choose to describe or perceive ourselves, to most of the world, we’re essentially one nation, Jews. It was this “achdus-centric” mindset that explained why when organizers were asked who was sponsoring the Atzeres, their simple, two word response was “our community”
…While insightful and eloquent, it’s impossible to ignore the brutally jarring events that we hope and pray will culminate with the safe return of:
Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devorah
Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim
Eyal ben Iris Teshura