From the Baltimore Jewish Life: A special event in the history of Baltimore. Sunday, February 3, 2013. If you live in Baltimore or are a fan of Baltimore, this was the event. The large enclosed arena … filled with young and old … pulsating with energy … What an amazing sight! You know exactly what I mean.
Of course it was the Special Community Avos U’Banim Learning Program which started at 7:15 PM and filled Kehilas Kol Torah on Fallstaff Road beyond description with some 900 fathers and sons.
The Program was the brainchild of our community’s Mechanchim. How do we emphasize to our children that while playing sports is a healthy pastime and recreational outlet, the hype and single minded focus all around us on the Super Bowl and its players and the preparations leading up to the game are not how Torah committed families spend their time and energy? With the enthusiastic encouragement and help of our community’s Rabbonim, this special program was quickly arranged. It was announced to the children in school on Friday morning, posted on BaltimoreJewishLife.com and in the shuls over Shabbos. Sponsors were quickly lined up, each of whom responded enthusiastically. The Avos U’Bonim leaders were not sure how many prizes and treats to buy, but they prepared for a few hundred children.
And then they started coming. And coming. By 7:10, there were no parking spaces in Kol Torah’s substantial parking lot or on Fallstaff stretching from Clarks Lane to Willow Glen. By 7:20 there were no seats left in the Shul’s main Bais Medrash or Ezras Nashim. All the side rooms were filled to capacity, as well. At about 7:55 there was a buzz in the room as the Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Aharon Feldman,shlita, entered. He admitted that he was overwhelmed by the sight when he walked in and could not get over the beauty of seeing so many children learning with their rebbeim and fathers.
There are certain moments when you can’t help but feel proud to be part of this special community. Standing in line at Millford Mill Metro Station last August 1, watching some 600 people boarding the buses for the 12th Siyum HaShas of Daf Yomi was one such moment. Watching the volunteers load the trucks with thousands of pounds of donated clothing outside Rabbi Eichenstein’s shul on that first Motzoei Shabbos following Hurricane Sandy to send to Far Rockaway, or watching bus loads of volunteers led by Rabbi Hauer leaving from Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion in the wee hours of the morning to spend a day of back breaking work helping resident of Sea Gate dig out from the massive destruction of the storm, were more such moments. And tonight, watching hundreds of children and their fathers learning with joy was, again, another such moment.
How did this happen? Whether or not sports fans, and whether or not they were planning to follow the game, why would fathers and sons give up some of their Sunday evening to come learn together with hundreds of others? Because, as the Rosh Yeshiva noted in his special words of chizuk to the children, the Kol Yaakov, the voice of children learning Torah, is the only counterforce in the world to the Y’dei Esav, the hands of Esav. Whatever the hands of Esav are doing, it is our responsibility to raise the Voice of Yaakov in Torah. And what a loud voice it was!
Nobody anticipated the turnout. The prizes were amazing. Children who did not receive their prizes filled out a rain check sheet and will receive their prizes later this week.
The light of Torah was lit bright in Baltimore Sunday night. Even as the power failed at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans and the Super Bowl was plunged into darkness, ולכל בני ישראל היה אור במושבתם, for all the Bnai Yisroel there was light in their dwellings. The light of our children’s Torah learning lit up the dark and warmed the cold night. Whichever NFL team leaves the night in victory, our team has already been victorious. Our team won. The Baltimore Torah Community and Klal Yisroel won tonight! May we merit this light and warmth always.
Due to the unexpected turnout, there is a need for more sponsors. If you are interested in the zchus of sponsoring this unprecedented event, send an email to Yissachar Shapiro -Ishapiro@prepaidxperts.com or call Aryeh Rosen at 410-262-9067.
See more photos at BALTIMORE JEWISH LIFE.