By Chaya Silber
Bring me home. Three simple words, yet laden with incredible meaning.
What do they mean for the average frum family, who live in a typical community, surrounded by Jews of all stripes and affiliations?
What can we, regular lay people, do to stem the tide of assimilation and apathy that is responsible for our spiritual Holocaust?
This past Tisha B’av, tens of thousands received their answer.
Bring Me Home, one of the most poignant annual presentations ever produced, directed by Rabbi Yossie Friedman, Managing Director of Project Inspire, focused on three incredible heroines, all of whom were niftar recently. Produced by BIG Productions, with the talented assistance of Danielle Haas, the presentation was shown on Tisha B’av to tens of thousands across the globe, receiving rave reviews.
Project Inspire, whose mission is to “Inspire Yourself by Inspiring Others,” by encouraging lay people to share the beauty of Yiddishkeit with their fellow Jews, highlights the lives of these three women. Each of these role models, in her own way, served as an ambassador Klal Yisroel, sharing the beauty of their heritage with an entire generation.
Rebbetzins Pearl Benisch, Henny Machlis, and Esther Jungreis were larger than life. They were role models who taught us, by example, how to step out of our comfort zone, to tune into the needs of others, and give endlessly without feeling depleted.
How did they do it? How did a Holocaust survivor from Poland, who lost her entire family to the death camps, retain her youthful joy and enthusiasm, inspiring and giving courage to a new generation who had never witnessed the devastation?
How did an American born woman, who lived in a humble apartment in Maalot Dafna, on a tight budget, single-handedly feed over 100 guests every single Shabbos, for many years?
And how did a prominent Rebbetzin, scion of the renowned Jungreis family, have the courage and fortitude to found Hineni, a kiruv organization with branches around the world?
In Bring Me Home, we are treated to an intimate look at each of their lives, as related by their loved ones, their admirers, and those touched by their caring.
The presentation begins with a heartwarming message from Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi, whose wise and pithy words of chizuk, related with incredible warmth and passion, have impacted women around the globe. Speaking opposite the kosel hamaaravi, where ‘heaven and earth kiss,’ the Rabbanit exhorts us to shed one genuine tear on Tisha B’av, a single tear that can split heavens.
The camera then fades to Rebbetzin Benisch, whose passing shortly before Pesach signified the end of an era. Rebbetzin Benisch was a survivor, whose zest for life and incredible caring are a testament to the eternal power of the Jewish soul. Her daughters, Mrs. Mirrel Eisenberg and Mrs. Fraidy Schwartz, recall their mother’s open house and open heart, her ability to rejoice in life’s blessings despite the tragedy she endured.
Several of Rebbetzin Henny Machlis’s children, who continue her life’s mission of feeding the hungry, of opening her home to anyone in need of sustenance, recalled their mother’s vibrant relationship with her Heavenly father. Rebbetzin Machlis achieved the impossible, somehow finding the strength and G-d given ability to feed His hungry people– simply because she cared.
Who can forget Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, whose magnetic personality and overflowing ahavas Yisroel changed the lives of thousands?
After marveling at these three larger-than-life role models, what is left for us? How can we possibly fit into their giant footsteps?
Project Inspire shows us how, by highlighting the story of Lianna Alvarez, a young mother from Azerbajan, who suffered a severe accident during a Jinspire trip to Eretz Yisroel. During her month-long hospitalization, as she slowly recovered, Lianna was exposed to the beauty and chesed of her newfound friends, who kept visiting, bringing care packages, and showing her what being a Yid is all about.
It takes a community to raise a child, and it takes a caring friend to reach out to our brothers and sisters, in an accepting, supportive, and non-judgmental way.
As Mrs. Chani Juravel, who moderated the hour-long presentation with grace and sensitivity, eloquently expressed, “We all have what it takes to create a difference this Tisha B’av, by deciding that we have enough light to share with so many. We can get it right this year.”
Project Inspire is a program of Aish HaTorah. You can still watch this incredible presentation at ProjectInspire.com.