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9 Tammuz 5760 - July 12, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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The United States, Belgium and the United Kingdom Appoint Delegates to the World Finals of Degel Yerushalayim Contest

by Degel Yerushalayim Correspondent

Delegates from all over the world are being selected to take part in the final round of the Degel Yerushalayim contest on the laws of tefilla and beis haknesses, which is due to take place in Tel Aviv in the middle of this month. Regional finals have been held at six centers throughout Israel, and the United States, Belgium and Britain recently selected their delegates to the world finals.

For many months, youngsters aged nine to 14 have been busy learning the laws of prayer and proper respect for the shul. Tens of thousands of children took part in the preliminary rounds of the contest, organized in memory of HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt"l. Of these, thousands made it into later rounds and hundreds held on until the regional and national finals.

The children's enthusiasm for the subject reflected the words of HaRav Avrohom Pam, rosh yeshiva of Torah Vodaas and head of America's Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, who wrote in a letter that the laws of prayer and respect for the shul "are among the most lofty concepts we have, are very basic to our service of G-d and apply every single day. Proper care in these matters is a large segulah to success in Torah learning and to growth in yiras Shomayim and middos improvement."

According to the Degel Yerushalayim directors, the expertise displayed by the Diaspora children was on par with that of their counterparts in Israel. At the world contest, the directors do not expect to see a significant difference between the scores of Israeli youngsters and those of Diaspora youths.

The U.S.

Out of the thousands of youngsters who entered the contest in the United States, 29 reached the finals.

The Israeli delegation of Degel Yerushalayim arrived in the United States on the morning of the contest. They went straight from the airport to daven shacharis with HaRav Pam, who extended a special welcome to the heads of the delegation, Rabbi Menachem Porush, Degel Yerushalayim's founder and president; Rabbi Moshe Meir Heisler, who heads the Degel Hahalacha Institute; and Rabbi Naftali Zvi Porush, the spiritual director of the organization.

The finals were held in Spring Valley, near Monsey. Most of the thousands who attended arrived in a fleet of buses and private cars. Others flew in from Chicago and Cleveland.

Rabbi Yeshaya David Bauer, spiritual director of Monsey's Beis David Talmud Torah, opened the event with Tehillim. This was followed by kabolas ol malchus Shomayim, led by Rabbi Heisler.

The contest was emceed by Rabbi Eliahu Yoel Weber of Monsey. HaRav Efraim Fishel Rabinowitz, head of Jerusalem's Tiferes Israel-Ruzhin Yeshiva, conveyed greetings from the gedolim in Eretz Yisrael.

Speaking in English, Rabbi Menachem Porush spoke of the reason for the contest. He said it was held in memory of HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and that the hours the children spent learning the laws of prayer, over and above their regular Talmud Torah hours, would stand them in good stead throughout their lives.

During the evening, special appreciation was expressed to Rabbi Shimon Yitzchok Bressler, an avreich from Monsey, who worked day and night to ensure that the contest ran smoothly.

The panel of judges comprised: Rabbi Heisler; Rabbi Naftali Zvi Porush; HaRav Yaakov Zeida, head of Williamsburg's Rabbinical kollel; and HaRav Moshe Greenfeld, maggid shiur at Monsey's Ateres Zekenim Yeshiva.

All the finalists did well, but after an exciting contest, Shmuel Binyamin Dorfman of Monsey's Beis David Talmud Torah was chosen chosson halacha of the United States. First runner-up was Isser Zalman Neuman of the Lakewood Cheder. They will travel to Israel to represent their country at the world finals.

Joint second U.S. runners-up were Chaim Reiner of Lakewood Cheder, and Zvi Erlich of the Gerrer Yagdil Torah Talmud Torah in Boro Park. Joint third runners-up were Moshe Katz and Yaakov Myers, both of Lakewood's Ohr HaTorah Talmud Torah.

The dozens of rabbonim sitting on the dais included Rabbi Yisrael Simcha Sher, rosh yeshiva of Ohr Sameach, Monsey; Rabbi Ben Zion Wosner, the son of the Shevet Halevi; Rabbi Yosef Meir Cantor, rav of Monsey's Agudath Israel shul; Rabbi Yisrael Flam, rav of Monsey's Kehal Bnei Yeshurun and maggid shiur in Spring Valley; Rabbi Asher Eckstein, rav of the Belzer Machzikei Hadas shul in Brooklyn; Rabbi Alexander Gross, rav of Ambov; Rabbi Leib Finkelstein, rosh yeshiva of Brooklyn's Spinka Yeshiva; Rabbi Dovid Weissberger, one of HaRav Pam's leading students; Rabbi Shrage Feivel Zimmerman, rav of Monsey's Adass Yeshurun community; the Kashnover Rebbe, Rabbi Chaim David Halberstam, president of the Belzer institutions in the United States; and Rabbi Shmuel Melber, head of the Rabbinical Kollel.

Also in attendance were communal leaders and leading educators, including Rabbi Avrohom Halpern of Manhattan and Rabbi Pinchas Goldberg of Brooklyn.

Members of Agudath Israel's world executive who were present included: Rabbi David Nachman Blau, a senior supervisor in the Torah educational system in Israel; Rabbi Leibish Becker, head of U.S. Pirchei Agudath Israel; Rabbi A. Shulman, head of Torah Umesorah's educational committee; Rabbi Yitzchok Aharon Shapira, principal of the Vedibarta Bam organization; Rabbi Moshe Yosef Ungar, head of the Shearis Yisrael Institutions in Chicago; Rabbi Mendel Pollak, head of Torah Temima in Flatbush; Rabbi Yehuda Frankel, principal of the Spring Valley Talmud Torah; Rabbi Yaakov Licht, a head of the Lakewood Cheder; Rabbi Zeev Nachman, principal of the Talmud Torah in Monsey; Rabbi Yaakov Shimshon Gross, principal of the Belzer Talmud Torah in Brooklyn, Rabbi Yochanan Piltshik, deputy head of the Beis David Talmud Torah; Rabbi Yitzchok Wolpin, principal of the Karlin-Stone Talmud Torah; Rabbi Chaim Feldman, principal of the Tzemach Tzaddik-Viznitz Talmud Torah in Williamsburg; and Rabbi Moshe Gutfarb of New York.


Belgium's national finals were held a few days after the contest held in the United States, and were no less exciting. On the day of the contest, hundreds of Belgian youngsters gathered in Antwerp's De Buk Hall.

Those who had attended the finals in the United States were struck by the similarity between the two events. Here again, the large hall was overflowing, with people forced to stand in the aisles.

Veteran Degel Yerushalayim master of ceremonies, Rabbi Yitzchok Isaac Ovitz, ran the event.

HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth, av beis din of Antwerp, greeted the children and spoke of the satisfaction he derived from seeing the children of Antwerp display such command of halacha.

The well-known dayan, HaRav Eliahu Sternbuch, also spoke, as did HaRav Yehuda Treger, a son-in-law of HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt"l, in whose memory the contest was named. Rabbi Menachem Porush spoke on behalf of the Degel Yerushalayim directorate.

Rabbi Porush welcomed Rabbi Shlomo Klagsbald, president of Belgium's chareidi community and the head of Agudath Israel of Belgium, and Rabbi Alexander Heiden.

Rabbi Porush asked Rabbi Klagsbald rhetorically, "Who would have imagined that after the terrible war, Antwerp would have a moving occasion like this one, seeing a new generation with proficiency in halacha!"

The team of judges comprised the spiritual directors of Degel Yerushalayim, who had flown to Antwerp from New York: Rabbi Naftali Zvi Porush, Rabbi Moshe Meir Heisler as well as Rabbi Yaakov David Shmahl, rav in Antwerp.

The finalists all did so well that it was difficult for the judges to choose among them, but the decision was finally made: Moshe Yitzchok Englander of the Bobover Talmud Torah goes to the world finals as Belgium's chosson halacha.

First runners-up were: Yisrael Sternbuch and Mordechai Dim, both of the Viznitz Talmud Torah. Second runner-up was Mordechai Dov Ehrentrau of the Viznitz Talmud Torah, while the third runner-up was Naftali Lipshitz of the Belzer Talmud Torah.

These winners all received generous seforim prizes. The hundreds who participated in the earlier rounds of the contest also received prizes.

The occasion ended with a chapter from Tehillim and kabolas ol malchus Shomayim, led by Rabbi Heisler.

Sitting at the head table were: HaRav Avrohom Ehrentreu, rosh mesivta, Yeshivas Wilreig; HaRav Naftoli Geldtzeiler, dayan in Antwerp; HaRav Yosef Hoffman, rosh mesivta, Antwerp; HaRav Shlomo Zalman Webber, rav and dayan, Kehilas Belz; HaRav Avrohom Lunder, rosh mesivta, Antwerp; HaRav Shmuel Luria, rav Kehilas Vizhnitz; HaRav Nosson Nota Moskowitz, rav and dayan, Belz; and HaRav Osher Sternbuch, rav, Department of Kashrus.

The heads of educational institutions of Antwerp, who were seated on a special dais, were: Rabbi Ben Tzion Bodner, menahel Talmud Torah Bobov; Rabbi Eliyahu Zilber, menahel Talmud Torah Yesodei Hatorah; Rabbi Binyomin Fogel, menahel Talmud Torah Vizhnitz; and Rabbi Pinchas Knoblich, menahel Talmud Torah Belz.

Other prominent members of the Antwerp's chareidi community who were present included: Rabbi Chaim Mandel, of the World Vaad Hapoel of Agudath Israel; Rabbi Chaim Gotesfeld, head of the Vizhnitz community; Rabbi Dovid Galitzki, head of the Belzer community; Rav Eliezer Lifshitz, head of the Pshevorsk community; Rabbi Shlomo Tzimmer, head of the Bobov community; Rabbi Shlomo Klagsbald, chairman of Belgium Agudath Israel; Rabbi Chaim Plotshenick, of the World Vaad Hapoel of Agudath Israel; Rabbi Leib Pearlman, of the World Vaad Hapoel of Agudath Israel; Rabbi Y. Flossberg, leader of European Pirchei Agudath Israel; Rabbi Hershel Rosenblatt, of the Tzortkov-Ruzhin community; Rabbi Mordechai Zeev Shwemenfeld, head of the Ohr Hatzafon Institute; and Rabbi Yehoshua Katz, European Degel Yerushalayim coordinator.


Britain's national finals were held in the school hall of the Chaim Meirim-Vizhnitz Talmud Torah, which is situated in London's Stamford Hill area.

While many participants were from London, others came from Manchester, which is several hours away by car, and from Gateshead, which is farther still.

The proceedings began with a moving recitation of Tehillim, led by Dayan Aharon Dovid Dunner, rav of the Tottenham Adass Yisroel Shul. Then, HaRav Eliezer Dovid Friedman, rav of the Machnovker Beis Hamedrash, led those present in saying "Shema Yisrael." HaRav Yisroel Moshe Friedman, rav of London's Sadigura community and a son of the Sadigura Rebbe, led the kabolas ol malchus Shomayim.

The occasion was emceed by Rabbi Pinchas Fuchs.

Before the contest began, HaRav Elchonon Halperin, one of London's leading gedolim, spoke. Rabbi Menachem Porush described Degel Yerushalayim's experience with the competition. A letter of greeting from Gateshead Rav, Rav Betzalel Rakov, was read.

Rabbi Yeshaya Grunfeld, headmaster of the Machnovka Cheder, spoke movingly.

Avrohom Shmuel Stern of the Vizhnitz Cheder gave a devar Torah on behalf of the finalists.

The team of judges comprised: HaRav Yaakov Meir Rosenbaum, rosh Yeshiva of London's Lev Sameach Gerrer Yeshiva; Rav Yechezkel Schlaff; Rabbi Moshe Meir Heisler; and Rabbi Naftali Zvi Porush.

The Belzer Cheder choir, led by Reb Shmuel Kalish; the Vizhnitz Cheder choir, led by Reb Dovid Rosenberg; and the Bobov Cheder choir, led by Reb Yehuda Roth, entertained the audience at intervals during the contest. Reb Moshe Zvi Wientraub and Moshe Zvi Kahana, a pupil at the Vizhnitz Talmud Torah, sang solos.

Speakers expressed their appreciation to Rabbi Avrohom Rosenberg, who coordinated Degel Yerushalayim in England, to his deputy, Rabbi Naftoli Hertz Stern, and to the veteran principal, Rabbi Yaakov Avrohom Taub.

Special thanks were extended to Rabbi Aharon Dovid Davis of Jerusalem, who was in England for the occasion, for his efforts on behalf of the British national contest.

Britain's chosson of the laws of tefilla and beis haknesses was Moshe Akiva Brandeis of the Manchester Mechina. First runner-up was Eliezer Lampein of Manchester's Chinuch Ne'orim Talmud Torah. Second runner-up was Yeshaya Kaufman, of the Manchester Mechina.

The words of the distinguished Manchester educator, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Sufrin, summed up the feelings of everyone. He said the occasion was impressive and moving, with Jewish chen.

The head table was graced by the presence of many rabbinical leaders and halachic authorities: HaRav Yosef Babad, rav and Dayan in the Belzer community; HaRav Ben Tzion Bloom, rav and Dayan in the Bobover community; HaRav Godlewsky, rav of Ilford; Dayan Aharon David Dunner, rav of the Tottenham Adass Yisrael Synagogue in north London; HaRav Dovid Hager, rav of Kehilas Vizhnitz Monsey; HaRav Dovid Halperin, rav in Hendon; HaRav Dovid Weiss, Rosh Kollel, Divrei Yetziv Tzanz; HaRav Yehuda Weinberger, rav of Congregation Beis Avrohom-Slonim, Boro Park; HaRav Yehuda Flam, a prominent Flatbush rav; HaRav Moshe Margulies, Rosh Kollel, Ohr Torah; HaRav Eliezer Dovid Friedman, rav of the Machnovker Beis Medrash; HaRav Yisroel Moshe Friedman, rav of Ohr Yisroel Ruzin - Sadigura Beis Medrash, Golders Green; Dayan Yosef Padwa; HaRav Dovid Zimmerman; HaRav Yitzchok Rosengarten, Rosh Yeshiva of the Belz Yeshiva; HaRav Moshe Shmuel Stern, Rosh Yeshivas Kol Yaakov Strikov; HaRav Shalom Stern, head of the Vizhnitz Kollel.

Communal leaders of London who attended included Mr. Joseph Lobenstein, Mayor of Hackney; Rabbi Chaim Yaakov Davis, head of Agudath Israel of England; Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, menahel, Institutions of Beis Avrohom - Slonim; Rabbi Ben Tzion Weitz, rabbi of Bobov in Golders Green; Rabbi Leibish Stempel; Rabbi Yitzchok Meyer Zimmerman, Chairman, European Agudath Israel; Rabbi Chaim Moshe Feldman, community leader of the Vizhnitz congregation; Rabbi David Frand, community leader of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations; Rabbi Akiva Shreiber, head gabai of Beis Medrash Gur - Stamford Hill.

The prominent headmasters and other educators who were present included Rabbi Yehoshua Waldman, menahel Talmud Torah Chinuch Neorim, Manchester; Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Zilbiger, menahel Talmud Torah Belz; Rabbi Yaakov Avrohom Taub, menahel Talmud Torah Chaim Me'irim - Vizhnitz; Rabbi Yosef Shleider, Talmud Torah Yesodei Hatorah; Rabbi Avrohom Yust, menahel Talmud Torah Bobov; Rabbi Avrohom Moshe Lampin, menahel Talmud Torah Ohr Torah, Manchester; Rabbi Yaakov Moskowitz, menahel Talmud Torah Tiferes Shlomo, Golders Green; Rabbi Aharon Honig, headmaster of the Pardes House school, Golders Green; Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Sufrin, Manchester coordinator of Degel Yerushalayim; and Rabbi Avrohom Kotler, headmaster of the Menorah Grammar School.

These national finals were all very special occasions that, in keeping with Degel Yerushalayim tradition, were aimed solely at increasing the honor due to the Torah and enhancing the appreciation of its laws -- throughout the world.

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