By M. Lowinger
Spin the globe and point your finger at any given spot. Chances are there’s a Shovavim program going on somewhere near there. Irgun Shiurai Torah’s Worldwide Shovavim Campaign is going global in a big way. Lectures and shiurim are being held in virtually every conceivable Jewish community around the world. In its own outstanding way, Irgun Shiurai Torah’s Shovavim Project is offering halacha and hashkafa, chizuk and inspiration, guidance and education to tens of thousands. When Irgun Shiurai Torah says that their lectures are Worldwide they’re not just saying it. It’s true!
The history of this organization is amazing. Twenty years ago it began as a fledgling mitzvah campaign. Today it has turned into a worldwide organization. Dozens of askonim are scattered all over the world, working tirelessly on behalf of Irgun Shiurai Torah. Meanwhile, at the Irgun’s New York headquarters, researchers and demographic experts are processing the information, leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to reach every single community in the world.
In Eretz Yisroel, a massive Irgun Shiurai Torah shiurim campaign is currently ongoing. Shiurim are being held in over two hundred fifty locations. These include the many chareidi areas of Yerushalayim, of course. It includes Kiryat Sefer, Tel Aviv, Beit Shemesh, Haifa, Petach Tikvah, Tzfas, and Bnei Brak. But it also includes many kibbutzim and moshavim where the laws of taharas hamishpacha and family purity are not yet familiar.
In the chareidi areas, an unprecedented sense of achdus and unity has blossomed. All have gathered together in pursuit of this noble cause. “Yeshivish, Chassidish, Litvish, and Sefardic,” says one delighted askan, “are all joining forces and attending our powerful shiurim.” According to one eye-witness, “The shul is jam packed. It seems like every single person in the city is attending the shiur tonight. There’s no place to sit. There’s no standing room either. There’s only a bit of floating space for anyone who still might want to come in!”
In the secular areas, the interest is also strong. “It’s a tremendous simcha for us,” says another devoted askan. “We’re sending Rabbonim to outlying kibbutzim, some of them long distances away, and paying for the expenses involved. We refuse to forgo this opportunity to introduce our fellow yidden to these critical halachos.”
Irgun Shiurai Torah activists are working around the clock, encouraging the olam to attend every shiur every night. The streets and alleyways of Yerushalayim are filled with prominent and unmistakable posters about Irgun Shiurai Torah. And the excitement is echoed all over the world.
Over 2500 shiurim are currently being offered in ten different languages at 600 locations worldwide. Over fifty thousand people will be participating. The shiurim are designed to spiritually strengthen klal yisroel. Participants gain tremendous insight on issues that deal with the halachos and hashkofos of the home, including taharas hamishpacha, shalom bayis, tznius, and chinuch habonim.
Ever wonder what it’s like to be an Irgun Shiurai Torah askan? For starters, it’s exhausting. Weeks before the Shovavim lectures actually begin, there’s tremendous research to be done. According to one activist, “Our askonim spend many hours seeking out every Jewish community throughout the world. We try to establish a contact and encourage them to join our cause. Once they agree, we send them a program package filled with instructions and information on how to get started. Then we send out a package filled with charts and posters and publicity information. If we have to, we’ll fly in a speaker or rent a hall for them. Then, we’ll advertise their program in all major newspapers as well as their local magazines. We’ll guide them in this endeavor from beginning to end. All this takes days and weeks of effort.”
But the effort ultimately pays off. Communities who were clueless about these vital halachos before are now begging for more shiurim. “They’re thrilled about it,” say the askonim. “They get such tremendous chizuk from the very first shiur that they’re eager to maintain the momentum.” Shuls that stood empty from Shabbos to Shabbos are now wide open all week long, inviting local residents to join the lectures. “Some communities enjoy it so much,” notes an Irgun spokesman, “that they continue to schedule Torah learning and lectures in their shuls throughout the year.”
According to one devoted askan, “We stay up late at night, organizing the local shiurim. Then we start faxing and e-mailing hundreds of program instructions to Eretz Yisroel and internationally.” Shovavim typesetters also have their hands full, considering the thousands of flyers and advertisements that are prepared every week. Over 100,000 posters were printed and distributed already for this year’s program. Yet despite the enormity of the project, everything seems to fall into place. “It’s a miracle that it all works out,” the askan concludes.
Shovavim askonim may not get much sleep, but they’re driven by adrenalin and the thrill of their achievement. “Nothing compares to the joy of knowing that klal yisroel is being strengthened through these efforts,” they point out. They’re so busy organizing the events that they haven’t got time for fundraising. They’re asking everyone to join by attending the shiurim of course, and also by offering much needed financial support. Call Irgun Shiurai Torah at 718.851.8651 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Irgun activists were stunned to discover that there are many Jewish families who consider themselves Orthodox yet are not at all well versed in these most important halachos. “Unfortunately,” says one askan, “there are those who consider these halachos essentially insignificant. Or, they were never taught how to keep them properly.”
Irgun Shiurai Torah introduces these fellow yidden to the beauty and glory of these mitzvos. Aside from the thousands who are mechazek their shmiras hamitzvos, and the thousands who are helped immeasurably with their shalom bayis, there are also thousands more who are being educated for the first time, and are just beginning to be mekabel the mitzvah.
Irugn Shiurai Torah is proud to reach these fellow yidden. They are proud to be the source of their kiyum hamitzvos. These communities can be reached. The work can be done. But they cannot do it alone. “We need the help of the tzibbur,” say the askonim. “We need the support of klal yisroel so that we can get more speakers and reach more communities than ever before.”
Klal Yisoel is being united by this massive kedusha campaign. Mi Keamcho Yisroel. It’s a gevaldike feeling to be sitting at a shiur and know that thousands of others are doing the same all over the world. Isn’t it about time that you join them too?