Rabbi Nosson Scherman & Rabbi Ephraim Eliyahu Shapiro to Address Shuvu Annual Lakewood Reception


L-R: Rabbi Nosson Scherman and Rabbi Ephraim Eliyahu Shapiro
L-R: Rabbi Nosson Scherman and Rabbi Ephraim Eliyahu Shapiro

Tonight, Shuvu, the renowned organization dedicated to returning an entire segment of Klal Yisroel to Torah and mitzvos after seven decades of communist oppression and persecution, will be holding its 7th Annual Lakewood Reception. The hosts of the event are Mr. and Mrs. Avrohom Scherman, who graciously open their home at 1089 Somerset Avenue each year for this gathering. The event tonight will be addressed by Rabbi Nosson Scherman, General Editor of ArtScroll-Mesorah and father of the host, who will give divrei bracha, and the guest speaker, Rabbi Ephraim Eliyahu Shapiro, morah d’asra of Congregation Shaaray Tefillah of Miami, Florida.

The Lakewood gathering is held annually to benefit the Shuvu’s Lod Elementary School, which was adopted by the Lakewood community a number of years ago and now has close to 700 students.

Shuvu was founded over seventeen years ago with great mesiras nefesh by Rav Avrohom Pam zt”l.

Shuvu Lod High School to Open Next Year

The trend of the past few years continues at a steady pace. More and more Russians as well as native Israelis from secular homes are registering their children at Shuvu. Being completely disenchanted with the Israeli public school system, they want basic values and some connection to their Jewish roots, and they want a high academic education for their offspring. They find all this and more at Shuvu.

Naturally, this presents Shuvu with an unprecedented opportunity. Given the chance, Shuvu can, and must, expand its unique educational and kiruv approach to tens of thousands more.

As part of this expansion program, Shuvu will be opening a high school in the city of Lod next year. The elementary school in the city, adopted by the Lakewood community and dedicated by Mr. and Mrs. Elly Kleinman, is already one of Shuvu’s crown jewels, having started with almost 100 children and today boasting close to over 600 students. But this enterprise needs continuity. The building must go on. The time has come to think about the future of these precious children. The time has come to open the Shuvu Lod High School.

After much research, Shuvu came to the realization that today there is no quality high school in the Ramla-Lod area, thus making the necessity so much greater. Not only will the new high school be attractive and even a necessity for the Shuvu Lod elementary school students, but it will also serve all the other elementary school children in the city pursuing a top-notch high school.

The Shuvu Lod elementary school today serves girls thru 8th grade and boys thru 6th grade. The 7th and 8th grade boys were moved to Shuvu Rishon Letzion due to overcrowding and the need to separate older boys and girls. Students who have graduated from the schools in previous years have left with a sad heart; they so much wanted to continue their studies at Shuvu Lod. According to a survey conducted, an overwhelming majority of Shuvu graduates would prefer to continue in a Shuvu high school.

One of the many reasons for the children’s admiration of the school lies in a new project launched this year, The Avreichim Project. Generously funded by the Wolfson Foundation, this project brings avreichim from nearby kollelim into the 5th and 6th grades weekly to learn with the boys in small groups. Initially, the avreichim came once a week. However, due to its immense success, the program has been doubled and they now come every Sunday and Monday. These avreichim learn Gemara with the boys on one day and inyonei deyomah, such as Hilchos Chanukah, on the next day.

Shuvu supervisors report how beautiful it is to witness these tinokos shenishbu shteiging over a passage of Gemara.

As is well known, many of Shuvu’s students in general, and those in Lod in particular, come from broken homes, and many do not have a father living with them. The avreichim thus also serve as wonderful role models to these children who are so desperately in need of a fatherly example. The avreichim connect beautifully with the children, inviting them to their homes and truly bringing them to love and appreciate learning Torah and being Torah Jews.

The parents and teachers alike feel the impact that the program has on the children, and report that a significant improvement is seen in all of their studies.

Alex, a 5th grader in the school, attends a learning program every Shabbos in his neighborhood shul. He proudly tells his teacher every Sunday how he was able to impress his rebbi with his knowledge, amassed through the Avreichim Project.

Before Chanukah each year, the Lod school arranges an activity during which the children make their own menorahs. After learning Hilchos Chanukah with his avreich, Maor, a conscientious 6th grader in the school, exclaimed that this year he doesn’t think he’ll be able to use the menorah he made in school. “I learned that a certain distance is necessary between the candles and of the other halachic requirements, and I just don’t feel that I can use a homemade chanukiah (menorah)! I’ll have to buy one this year which is kosher lemehadrin!”

During the years of elementary school, the children’s love for Torah begins. To continue building this love during the formative years, a Shuvu high school education is vital. As the students turn from children to young adults, it is critical that they remain within Shuvu in order to solidify the Torah that they have learned and will, iy”H, assist them to become shomrei Torah umitzvos as they become adults.

As a preliminary step to setting up the new high school, Shuvu recently held a meeting in its central offices in Yerushalayim. Administration and educational supervisors participated, and all agreed that it would be an excellent idea to open the new high school in Lod. Mrs. Michal Hominer, the school’s extremely popular and successful principal, is also most excited about the idea of opening a high school as she, too, is saddened by the fact that Shuvu students in the area cannot continue on in a Shuvu high school, though many do go on to other religious institutions.

Shuvu is currently deeply involved in the preparations to make the school a smashing success. The first task is finding a suitable location for the high school. The building joined to the school in Lod is currently being used by a different entity. Ideally, this building could serve the purpose, and indeed Shuvu would like to try to sway the municipality to reassign it the building. However, in the event that this will not work out, there would be no choice but to build out. There is certainly plenty of space in the back of the building.

Besides obtaining the building, fast work must be done on additional fronts. In Israel, in order to officially open a high school, one has to apply to the Ministry of Education by February the year before. By that time, the administrators of the new high school are required to submit a comprehensive list of students as well as details of the building where the school will be housed. The location then needs to undergo safety and security inspections. In order for the dream of a high school in Lod to come to fruition, work must begin immediately.

Other things that must be taken care of include renovating the building, developing the curriculum and letting the students and their parents know of the high school’s opening so that they won’t register their children in other schools. Advertising the school is thus now in full swing.

Last, but not least, in order to live up to Shuvu’s standards, a most highly qualified staff must be hired for the high school. This, too, must be taken care of immediately, as top teachers are of course grabbed first.

Be’ezras Hashem, the same tremendous success story witnessed daily in the Shuvu Lod elementary school is expected to be matched in the Shuvu Lod high school. It will indeed be a wonderful bracha to be able to view the fruits of Shuvu’s investments and observe the children continuing on within the frum environment of their choice.

{Dovid Bernstein-Matzav.com Newscenter}