Video, Photos: Thousands Attend Lakewood Asifa for Boys in Japan


rabbi-dunner-rav-kotler[Video and photos below.] The Ihr Hatorah of Lakewood, NJ, once again distinguished itself as being a city of chessed, achdus and altruism as thousands turned out last night at attend an asifa for Yaakov Yosefben Raizel and Yoel Zev ben Mirel Risa Chava, the two boys currently jailed in Japan. The atzeres tefillah was held ahead of the dates of the closing arguments for both boys, March 28 for Yaakov Yosef and April 5 for Yoel Zev. The verdicts are expected to be handed down 5-7 weeks later.

Despite it being the evening following a lengthy taanis, approximately 2,000 men packed Bais Faiga Hall at 10 p.m. for an informative and inspiring event that featured the participation of rabbonim and roshei yeshiva of Lakewood, including Rav Malkiel Kotler, Rav Dovid Schustal, Rav Yisroel Neuman, Rav Yosef Zimbal, Rav Mordechai Bezalel Klein, Rav Berel Shachar, Rav Eli Bursztyn, Rav Menachem Mintz, Rav Shmuel Blech, Rav Moshe Shimon Wosner, Rav Chaim Mayer Roth, Rav Shlomo Zalman Friedman, Rav Shaul Simcha Freidman, Rav Leibe Gruber, Rav Shloime Lowy and others.

The program began with opening remarks from the chairman of the evening, the devoted and tireless askan, Rabbi Menashe Frankel.

Divrei chizuk were then given by Rav Malkiel Kotler, rosh yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoha.

A firsthand report from Japan was then delivered by Rabbi Aba Dunner, Executive Director of the Conference of European Rabbis. Rabbi Dunner, who has personally visited the boys in jail and plays an active role in seeking the funding needed for the boys’ defense, delivered an eloquent and passionate speech that touched the hearts of the attendees. With precision and heartfelt emotion, Rabbi Dunner described the frightening plight of the boys and pleaded with the caring Yidden in attendance to do what they can, both by davening and by contributing monetarily, to ensure that the boys are freed in the near future.

The recital of Tehillim was then led by Rav Aryeh Leib Klein, with Bais Faiga Hall reverberating with the loud cries of Lakewood residents who davened on behalf of two of their brothers, whom they have never met and probably never will, but who are in need of rachamei Shomayim.

The special guest speaker at the event, Mr. Michael Levine, then delivered an enlightening presentation. Mr. Levine traveled for many hours from High Falls, NY, where he resides, to address the gathering and was visibly moved by the unity and respect demonstrated by the audience.

Quiet reigned across Bais Faiga Hall – with many people standing across the back of the hall because of the tremendous size of the crowd – as the forty-year veteran of the US Drug Enforcement Agency, including undercover law enforcement positions at JFK and Miami International Airports, spoke about his testimony on behalf of the boys in Japan, detailing the sequence of events from when the boys were first conned into serving as “blind mules,” until they were arrested for serving as drug couriers and subsequently jailed.

A video presentation closed out the evening.

The defense team is now preparing its closing arguments, but there are outstanding invoices from the defense attorneys since September 2010. Rabbi Dunner stressed in his remarks that there is an urgent need – one of actual pikuach nefashos – to immediately satisfy all outstanding debts and assure the defense attorneys that they will be promptly paid.

The effort to help the boys in Japan continues to be led by Dayan Chaim Yosef Dovid Weis, Rabbi Aron Nezri and Rabbi Meilech Bindinger.

Click below to watch a video of remarks delivered at the event, including virtually the complete speeches of Rabbi Dunner and Mr. Levine:

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See below for photos:

{ Newscenter/Video and photo processing by Data Imaging}