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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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.