It was a weekend unlike any other.
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Never mind the trimmings; the lavish accommodations at the Trump Miami Doral, delectable gastronomic delights, or exceptionally balmy weather.
As the 600 delegates who were fortunate to attend Torah Umesorah’s tenth annual President’s Conference, which took place in late December, can attest, the atmosphere was charged. The askanim who gave of their time and talent, including Klal Yisroel’s most committed and devoted lay leaders, administrators, and just regular parents who care, were united by a common cause– helping our children succeed in a world filled with challenges.
Most telling were the words of Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky, Rosh Yeshiva of Philadelphia, who graced the weekend with his warm smile and divrei chizuk.
After all, it is Torah Umesorah, with its commitment to chinuch for every child that leaves its imprint on the future of Klal Yisroel. And it is at the annual President’s Conference that our most dedicated askanim join forces to make it happen.
Ever since its inception in 1944 by Reb Shraga Feivel Mendelowitz, himself an askan who insisting on having no honorifics next to his name, Torah Umesorah has been at the forefront of the issues facing our children, ensuring that every child has a place, that every Rebbe has access to training, that our heroes on the front lines—Rebbeim and morahs, get the recognition they deserve.
Led by its dynamic director, Zvi Bloom, and orchestrated by Rabbi Binyomin Holland, who pulled off this multi-faceted conference to perfection, along with Rabbi Dovid Weinstein, who oversaw the hotel logistics, the tenth President’s Conference showcased the new developments and fresh talent that Torah Umesorah keeps cultivating.
Their staff of dedicated visionaries have implemented groundbreaking new programs in the past year, while refining and shoring up the existing framework. As Reb Yitzchok Perlstein stressed during the keynote session, “We aren’t just necessary; we are very relevant to the challenges we face in chinuch today.”
As we learned during the keynote session, Torah Umesorah has embarked on several ambitious projects during the past few years. These include the Chinuch B’tfillah program, a groundbreaking experience where children are taught an understanding and appreciation of tefillah, which starts in the early grades and continues to build on the skills mastered, year after consecutive year.
The Nefesh Chaya Mashgiach and Mechaneches training program selected (by their school) rebbeim and moros in how to handle our most vulnerable students, to provide warmth and stability, to step in with preventative measures before a crisis. The faculty for this program consists of top experts in the field today.
The groundbreaking ‘Raise the Rebbe’ program, conceptualized and put into motion at the eighth annual conference, just two years ago, provides Rebbeim with the peace of mind to enable them to focus on their talmidim, instead of their growing debt.
And although the tenth annual Presidents Conference, upgraded to the luxurious Trump National Doral Miami hotel, was permeated with warmth and connection, there was an underlying sense of passion, a drive to help every Jewish child reach their full potential.
Rav Hillel David and Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky, who graced the assembled with their presence, and were available for consultations, each delivered divrei chizuk during mussaf and seudah shlishis, respectively, setting the tone for the weekend.
The attendees were varied, from all walks of Klal Yisroel, but their mission was shared.
As one young Chasidic askan, attending the conference for the second year, expressed, “I joined last year because I knew some friends who are going, and I thought it would be a nice, inspiring vacation. I was so moved by what I heard and experienced that this year I’m not just a participant—I’ve become heavily involved in several Torah Umesorah programs, sponsoring mechanchim in my community to attend conferences and training sessions, helping to mold our Rebbeim and reach our children. For me this is very personal. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time and resources.”
This theme of young leadership, of two, and sometimes three, generations of askanim working in tandem, was very much in evidence. In fact, Rabbi Chaim Rajchenbach, Conference Co-chairman, is the son of Torah Umesorah’s beloved Presidium Member Reb Yankel Rajchenbach, who transmitted the torch of askonus and devotion, while remaining involved. The other two chairmen, Amir Jaffa and Shmuel Werdiger, are relatively young askonim with the vision and drive to bring Torah Umesorah’s ideals and projects to the next level.
As Mr. Jaffa so eloquently explained, in deciding whether to accept the role of Chairman, he envisioned his great-uncle Dr. Joseph Kaminetsky, the first Executive Director of Torah Umesorah. And so the mission continues.
The poolside BBQ, with live music by the Yedidim choir members, featuring a stunning landscape, lights flickering in the center of the pool, and a shmorg of mouthwatering selections was the culmination of a weekend of sustenance for both body and soul. Many delegates took this opportunity to network, to forge connections and translate their inspiration into actuality.
For, after all, the President’s Conference is where things happen, not just for the attendees, but for our children, our grandchildren, Klal Yisroel’s children. Our future.