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25 Sivan 5759 - June 9, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Gedolei Eretz Yisroel Call for Renewed Enrollment Campaign

by Eliezer Schwartz

Many of Eretz Yisroel's greatest Torah authorities and spiritual leaders issued a joint declaration on Sunday 15 Sivan (May 30) urging members of the Torah community to support P'eylim / Lev L'Achim's current campaign to enroll thousands of children from nonobservant backgrounds into religious schools.

Following one of the ugliest election campaigns ever, one would think that the chasm between the religious and non- religious segments of Israeli society has grown wider and more unbridgeable than ever. Yet the gedolei Torah of Eretz Yisroel do not see things this way. As they proved so dramatically last year, the Jewish spark in the souls of most Israelis is still burning brightly. The duty of the Torah community is to make sure that spark stays lit -- especially among the youth. It was with this goal in mind that many of Eretz Yisroel's Torah authorities and spiritual leaders issued a joint declaration on Sunday urging support for Lev L'Achim's current enrollment campaign.

Similar in scope to last year's effort -- which resulted in an influx of 6,500 children into the religious school system and the establishment of fifty Torah educational facilities -- this year's drive was launched over two months ago. However, in light of the extremely caustic anti-religious propaganda that left-wing parties such as Meretz and Shinui conducted in the course of the recent election campaign, organizers decided to withhold publication of the current school enrollment campaign until the political situation stabilized.

Two prominent roshei yeshiva were sent as the personal emissaries of the gedolei Yisroel to present the signed declaration to the Torah community of America: HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Borenstein, rosh yeshivas Chevron Geula; and HaRav Boruch Shapira of Yeshivas Kol Torah, a member of Lev L'Achim's directorate. HaRav Aharon Leib Steinman, in a separate letter addressed to Lakewood's Torah community, regrets lacking the physical strength to undertake the journey to America so as to deliver the message in person, as he did last year during his visit to America.

The declaration calls attention to the astounding success of last year's school enrollment campaign, which "surpassed all expectations." It calls on all members of the Torah community to help share of the huge costs involved in waging a massive, nationwide effort of this magnitude. In this declaration the gedolim repeatedly stress that enrolling these children from nonobservant backgrounds into Torah schools is "hatzolas nefoshos mamesh -- an act of literally saving a life," and that "ein lecho hatzolah gedola mizu -- there is no greater deed of saving a life than this."

A full translation of the declaration follows:

Great is the reward of P'eylim / Lev L'Achim's members, who responded to our plea last year and did a magnificent job enrolling children to Torah educational institutions with mesiras nefesh, expertise and total dedication.

They witnessed tremendous blessing in their endeavors, far beyond their expectations, "taking the precious out of the vile" (Yirmiyohu 15:19). At the outset of the current school year they brought thousands of Jewish children -- "new [students] recently arrived" (Devorim 32:17) -- to Torah educational facilities.

As the enrollment season for the coming year approaches, we ask to strengthen and encourage them, thus enabling them to fulfill our shlichus this year as well, and do their holy work which literally comprises an act of hatzolas nefoshos -- saving the life of a fellow Jew.

We call upon every man with a heart to join in partnership with them and assume a share of the tremendous expenses that this effort entails. Joyous is he who accepts upon himself the cost of saving at least one child. There can be no greater act of hatzolah.

We hereby bless all those who share in this effort, and those who encourage others to share in this effort, to help provide a Torah education to Jewish children. [May they be blessed with] yiras Shomayim and all kinds of worldly reward -- children, life, a livelihood, physical health and lofty vision.

The letter is signed by (names appear here in English alphabetical order):

HaRav Shmuel Auerbach, the Belzer Rebbe, HaRav Avrohom Chaim Brim, HaRav Simcha Zissel Broide, HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, HaRav Yechiel Michel Feinstein, HaRav Nissim Karelitz, HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, HaRav Tzvi Markowitz, HaRav Zalman Rotenberg, HaRav Boruch Rosenberg, HaRav Moshe Shmuel Shapira, HaRav Pinchos Scheinberg, HaRav Aharon Leib Steinman, the Vishnitzer Rebbe, HaRav Shmuel Halevi Wosner, HaRav Shlomo Wolbe, and HaRav Avrohom Yaakov Zalesnick

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