By Rabbi Yitzchok Hisiger
It was the first such event in Lakewood, NJ, but like those ubiquitous “inaugural annual” yeshiva parlor meetings, I feel comfortable tagging it as the First Annual Bochurim Simchas Bais Hashoeivah in Lakewood.
It will happen again.
Because there’s no reason it shouldn’t.
And there’s no good reason it didn’t happen before.
You just needed someone to identify the void and seek to fill it.
The ingredients were there:
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of bochurim.
Chol Hamoed Sukkos.
The bein hazemanim spirit.
A delicious recipe sure to please even the most discerning palate.
R’ Kalmy Katz jumped in. In no time, he had organized a Simchas Bais Hashoeivah for the bochurim of Lakewood.
I use the term “bochurim” loosely, because there were those present, like myself, who, while holding on to our bochurishe years for our dear lives and with such longing, have been forced to face the reality that we just ain’t teenagers anymore.
But standing shoulder to shoulder last night with those twenty years my junior in Bais Faiga’s Bais Anya Building in Lakewood, I was swept up in the joy of the moment no less than the young bnei Torah circling the room.
Tzitzis dangling, jackets flying, and hats – many with brims up, to the dismay of the brim-down activists out there – awkwardly perched on their bopping heads, the bochurim, from an array of yeshivos, linked hands and danced in step to the singing of the incomparable Shmueli Ungar and the music of Boruch Yida Gross.
These weren’t bochurim from one yeshiva, from one camp, from one chevra or group. They were from different groups and associations, bonded by their identities as yeshiva bochurim, nothing more.
So who arranged this event?
I asked around, just for the fun of it. I shook sweaty palms and asked out-of-breath adolescents.
Which yeshiva sponsored the program?
No one knew.
There were no signs, no posters, no dais, and no shtoltz.
Why were the bochurim there?
They couldn’t articulate it to me eloquently, but they didn’t need to. I got my answer from their non-verbal cues.
They were looking for this. Exactly this. The perfect ruach, the right atmosphere, an ambiance that was welcoming and loose, yet structured at the same time.
Rav Yeruchem Olshin delivered divrei hisorerus to begin the event. And then the crowds that filled the cavernous room got lost in a world of Yiddishe joy for two hours, dancing and singing.
The purity was brilliant. The pump was tangible.
Standing next to one of the organizers, I watched a baal habayis stroll into the building and then approach pensively. He wanted to know who arranged the event. When told that the music would end at 11 p.m., he asked what it would take – money? protektzia? – for it to continue for another hour, so taken was he by what he was witnessing – nay, what he was experiencing.
Upon hearing that the costs of the event were not yet covered, he whipped out his credit card, told my mate to put him down for a grand, and then turned back to the dancing bochurim so that he could soak in whatever was left of the evening, trying to bottle up the geshmak he was ingesting.
I, for one, was gratified to have brought along my eleven-year-old son, appreciative that he got to witness bochurim celebrating the joy of Yom Tov – and the simcha of life – with such wholesomeness and genuine elation. Last night he was a spectator. I look forward to the day when he’ll be an active participant.
Tzitzis dangling, jacket flying, and hat awkwardly perched on his head, perhaps even with the brim up, he’ll iy”H serve as another example of the beauty of Klal Yisroel’s yeshiva bochurim – pure, pristine, sincere and special.
The costs of this kiddush Hashem have not yet been fully paid for. To assist in covering the remainder of the expenses, please call 732-575-6817.