Rav Matisyahu Salomon To Address Shuvu ‘Save The Schools’ Flatbush Dinner Meeting Tonight


rav-matisyahuRav Isaac Sher zt”l, rosh yeshiva of Slobodka, once paid a visit to his father-in-law and Rebbe, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, zt”l. Rav Finkel, also known as the Alter of Slobodka, stared at his talmid and asked, “Do you know where the cemetery is?” Rav Sher answered, “Just outside the city.” The Alter shook his head. “No. Look out the window and you will see the cemetery.” Rav Isaac opened the window and looked around. All he saw was a street filled with people going about their daily lives. He looked to the Alter for an explanation.

The Alter pointed to one man and asked, “Do you see that fellow? He is a tremendous gaon! Without a doubt he could have become a great rosh yeshiva! But his parents decided that he should focus his brilliance on academia rather than Torah. Today he is a professor! And on his forehead is the epitaph ‘Here lies buried the great rosh yeshiva.'”

The Alter pointed to another man. “Do you see that man over there? He has such a sensitive and understanding heart. Without a doubt he could have been a wonderful mashgiach in a yeshiva! Do you know what he does today? He is a professional violinist! So, you see, on his forehead it says, ‘Here lies buried the tzaddik, the mashgiach, who inspired so many Jews with love for their Father in Heaven.'”

In 1991, when the Soviet Union dissolved and hundreds of thousands of Jews were finally able to make aliyah, HaGaon Rav Avrohom Yaakov HaKohen Pam, zt”l, recognized that the streets of Eretz Yisrael would soon be turned into walking graveyards. With no knowledge of what it means to be a Yid, the precious Russian children would each be walking around with an epitaph on their foreheads: “Here lies buried a shomer Shabbos.” “Here lies buried a person who kept kosher.” “Here lies buried an oveid Hashem.”

Rav Pam realized the collective opportunity and responsibility we have to see to it that these children’s potential is fulfilled and that they return home to Torah u’mitzvos. And that is why he founded Shuvu.

Rav Sholom Schwadron, “The Maggid of Yerushalayim,” applied to the words of the Alter of Slobodka a Midrash concerning the shevatim. When Yosef revealed himself to his brothers, they were unable to respond to him. Chazal comment, “Oy lanu miYom haDin! Oy lanu miYom haTochechah!-Woe to us from fear of the day of judgment…the day of reprimand! Yosef was the youngest of the tribes, and the brothers could not respond to him. When Hashem comes to rebuke each person according to what he is, how much more so that we will not be able to answer!'” If the accusation of a lesser individual can shame us into silence, what will be the situation when our accuser is no less than Melech Malchei HaMelachim? Hashem will rebuke everyone according to who and what they are and their individual abilities and potential. Each one of us has an obligation to realize his own potential and every person has a chiyuv to help his fellow Yidden realize their potential. On Yom HaDin we will all be judged accordingly.

These days are Yemei Din, Days of Judgment. Hit heavily by the global recession, Shuvu is fighting for the lives of six of its schools, for 1,366 precious tinokos shenishbu who have already taken the critical first steps of joining Shuvu and starting on their paths of returning home…and for the many more neshamos-in Ashkelon, Rechovot, Kfar Saba, Tel Aviv, Nahariya, and Jerusalem-that will never even take those first steps because they don’t have a Shuvu school to go to.

Shuvu has launched a worldwide emergency “Save the Schools” campaign. The network must raise $5 million in order to keep these six schools open. Rosh Hashanah may be two months away, but thousands feel the Yemei HaDin now as they’ve never felt before. The parents of the 1,366 children are anxiously awaiting the final word as to where their children will be learning next year. As can be imagined, not a day goes by without dozens of concerned parents calling and pleading with the Shuvu personnel to not close the schools. They want the derech eretz, the superior education, and the Jewish identity they were deprived of themselves, which Shuvu has to offer. “What can we answer them?” Shuvu’s director, Rav Chaim Michoel Gutterman says. “We need our friends and supporters to come through!”

The children themselves are feeling the strain and the tense days. Many students have written their own letters pleading with Shuvu not to close. As 5th-grader Benny Samyanov writes, “In Shuvu I learn about mitzvot and the Torah, and now I make sure that my parents only bring home kosher food. My parents are happy that I know about Torah and they are happy to do whatever I teach them from what I learned in Shuvu. If my Shuvu school closes, I won’t be able to continue to learn Torah and we won’t be able to continue becoming more religious.” Another student, Alex Kahan, writes: “It is very important that Shuvu should not close. Ever since I joined Shuvu two years ago I’ve seen that being religious is a good thing. Our religious teachers are wonderful and they teach us to have good behavior and kibud av v’eim. When I see my teachers, it makes me want to be religious too. I now do netilat yadayim and daven each day and my parents put a mezuzah on our house. I want to be religious and I need Shuvu to help me.”

In addition, Shuvu employs over 1,200 staff members, teachers, and principals in its schools throughout the country. Even during times that their Shuvu jobs are not in danger, life is financially challenging. Most of the teachers are married to avreichim and the salary received from Shuvu serves as the main income for their families. Even on this level, it is unthinkable what would happen if they would not be able to continue their jobs at Shuvu and lose their main source of income.

Rav Pam was fond of quoting the navi Chaggai. He encouraged a dispirited people who were attempting to erect the Second Beis HaMikdash but were encountering difficulties: “Va’asu ki Ani itchem ne’um Hashem,” “And do, for I am with you-the word of Hashem.” This statement of faith was reflected in Rav Pam’s determination to ignore financial constraints at critical junctures in the past. Shuvu’s chairman, Mr. Avrohom Biderman, recalls, “When we would tell the rosh yeshiva that we were facing a financial crisis, he never entertained the thought that we might have to cut back on something or rethink our plans for expansion. Instead he would say, ‘Well, in that case, we need to find some new donors who can help us close the deficit. We are doing what the Ribbono shel Olam wants. He will surely help us.'”

Tonight, Shuvu will hold a “Save the Schools” summer dinner meeting at the home of Rabbi Gedaliah and Mrs. Rachael Weinb­erger, 1757 East 23rd Street in Brooklyn. This meeting is nothing short of Yom Kippur for the six schools. It is essential to attend the meeting and support Shuvu-the children, the families, the teachers, and Rav Pam’s vision.

The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will feature divrei hisorerus from Rav Matisyahu Salomon, mashgiach of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, and an eyewitness report from Rav Shmuel Dishon, menahel of Mosdos Yad Yisroel-Karlin Stolin.

{Elisha Ferber-Matzav.com Newscenter}