Young Man is First Family Member in 100 Years to Keep Shavous
By Zevy Friedman
A baby’s first few words are precious and memorable. Every parent tries to capture the memory of a child’s first steps with photos and videos. It’s exciting to watch your child develop and grow before your eyes. Growth and baby steps are not limited to infants and toddlers. When an adult who is already fixed in his ways decides to take upon commitment, change and self-sacrifice that is true growth. There is a type of growth that is truly exceptional. A Jew knows that life is full of opportunities for growth in spirituality and Avodas Hashem. Most people plateau at a certain age, become complacent and stop growing.
The Flatbush community experienced great nachas last week upon the bris of a sixty-two year old American Jew. His father was a world-famous Nobel Prize Laureate in Physiology. He was known as Darwin’s neuroscientist for his pioneering work on consciousness and the mind. He posited that there was nothing inherently special about the human being, though later on he did imply that the human mind can’t be rationally explained. Astoundingly, his son, Eric, left the atheism of his family behind to return to Torah and Mitzvos. Mr. Edelman’s choice to undergo any amount of pain to be united with the rest of Klal Yisroel with this Mitzvah was courageous and remarkable. “I trust Rabbis Fingerer implicitly and will use any Mohel who they arrange. And I’m prepared for the pain. This is what I want to do,” he explained. That’s one (incredible) and precious snapshot!
A seventy-four year old Flatbush woman helped sponsor the Viennese table, fifteen cheese cakes, and many gallons of ice cream at the packed Shavous all night learning in honor of her birthday. She wasn’t just celebrating her chronological birthday, she was also marking four years of growth as a recent baalas Teshuva! At the age of seventy she changed her life and became newly observant. “BJX gives me life. Before BJX came into my life, I merely existed. BJX is my lifeline. It is my spiritual oxygen,” explained Carole Kahanah. That’s another incredible snapshot!
People walked in from Canarsie, Sheepshead Bay and further to join the learning at BJX. Renowned presenters addressed cutting-edge topics such as gun-control and legalizing marijuana in Halacha. Rafi Treitel shared his impression. “What was interesting to me was that the crowd was a real mix of different backgrounds and the topics were eclectic,” said Rafi.
One young professional, Aaron Goldberg enthused, “This Shavous was the first time in over 100 years that anyone in my family kept this holiday.”
“There is no place like BJX,” said Max Hurwitz. I was at a meal with someone who was keeping his first Shabbos. He expressed how great it felt to be off the phone and make a real connection. As a result of his experiences with the BJX community, he plans to come back to BJX and keep Shabbos next week and the week after. To me his involvement perfectly shows what BJX does for countless people. It helps to guide so many Jews back to the greatest treasure in the world. Maybe it’s fair to say that BJX is a treasure map and the treasure is Torah, Judaism, community and an identity that the world around us tries to take away. BJX wants to bring us back to who we really are,” said Max.
“The Shavuot program at BJX was truly great and inspiring. Each speaker brought in topics that were so different and interesting to learn about. I definitely gained a lot,” related Hannah Cohen.
“Some guys outside told me “good luck” in finding a seat. Once we walked in, I needed it. It was wall-to-wall with people. What was special and inspiring was watching young people yearning to be part of the BJX experience,” said Yoel Brill.
Eli Zanger said, “After hosting many students from BJX over the years, I realize that besides assisting them in spiritual growth, a large part of the attraction for young adults to be a part of BJX is the personal attention and respect given to them. By entering the warm world of BJX with Rabbi Fingerer as a ‘father’ figure and various other caring adults as ‘uncles’, the student feels wanted and respected. I am proud to be a part of this organization and to help all members of Am Yisroel to feel included in our family.”
David Matayev, a local public school senior shared: “Thanks for this amazing opportunity that Rabbi Fingerer has given us to be at BJX for Shavous. I made lifelong friends and learned so much in a matter of days. I would give the BJX program a five star review.”
“The program was awesome,” said Alex Kuvalsky, a young professional. Mr. Joel Zuller agreed. “I have one word to describe BJXs all night learning: ‘Awesome!’” he said.
One was privy to see snapshots of growth at the all night learning program at BJX. Hundreds of people made it a part of their itinerary to attend this annual program, which grows by leaps and bounds each year. The diversity and unity of the crowd was a true Kiddush Hashem. Jews of every background and at every stage and phase of Yiddishkeit are represented. Where can you daven Vasikin with a public school student who is observing his first Yom Tov, together with a young man from a frum family who is keeping his first Shavuos after five years of being off the derech? Where can you see such a packed crowd of young and old thirsting for Torah in middle of the night at 3am?
Rav Dovid Goldwasser said, “I view it as the greatest joy and privilege to join BJX for Shavuos. There is no place like BJX in the entire state of New York. I consider it a very holy place and feel surrounded by very holy people.”
I can only imagine how our Father in Heaven must be taking photos of these BJX individuals; of their first steps, of their growth and how He is marveling at their spiritual strides.