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6 Teves 5763 - December 11, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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From Adversity, Strength: 80th US Agudah Convention Planned for Parshas Shemos
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

The National Convention of Agudath Israel of America, which each year attracts thousands of Jews from across the Orthodox spectrum and around the world, will open Thursday 21 Teves, December 26 at the Stamford Westin Hotel in Stamford, Connecticut. This year's convention will focus on the theme "Umimenoh Yivoshei'ah: From Adversity, Strength."

"The difficult matsav in which Klal Yisroel currently finds itself is unquestionably a source of great anguish," says Agudath Israel of America executive vice president Rabbi Shmuel Bloom. "Along with the pain, though, there must be an awareness that Hakodosh Boruch Hu sometimes presents us with adversity in order to give us an opportunity to make the kinds of changes that will ultimately bring about our salvation. This year's convention will provide a well-timed venue for exploring the many positive, productive directions in which our pain can be channeled."

The convention commences Thursday night with opening remarks by Rabbi Simcha Schustal, rosh hayeshiva, Yeshiva Gedolah of Stamford, followed by a plenary session entitled, "What in the World is Going On? -- Searching for Meaning in the Maelstrom." The session will feature addresses by Rabbi Chaim Dov Keller, rosh hayeshiva, Telshe Yeshiva, Chicago; Rabbi Shmuel Dishon, menahel, Yad Yisroel; and Rabbi Zev Leff, rav, Moshav Matisyahu, Israel. Rabbi Yosef Viener, rav, Agudath Israel of Flatbush, will chair the session.

Participants in the upcoming national convention will have a truly special opportunity to be in the presence, and benefit from the guidance of, all the members of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah. Present at this year's convention, be"H, will be Rabbi Simcha Bunim Ehrenfeld, Mattesdorfer Rov; Rabbi Yitzchok Feigelstock, rosh hayeshiva, Yeshiva of Long Beach; Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, rosh hayeshiva, Yeshiva of Philadelphia; Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Levin, rosh hayeshiva, Telshe-Chicago; Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, Novominsker Rebbe and Rosh Agudath Israel of America; and Rabbi Aharon Schechter, rosh hayeshiva, Yeshivas Chaim Berlin.

Several of the Moetzes members will be formally addressing the gathering as well. On Friday night, the Novominsker Rebbe will deliver a Kabolas Shabbos address and at Sholosh seudos Rabbi Ehrenfeld and Rabbi Levin will deliver concurrent Yiddish and English addresses. Rabbi Kamenetsky will deliver greetings at the motzei Shabbos Melave Malka.

According to convention co-chairman Mr. Elly Kleinman, a record crowd is expected at this year's gathering. "Always, but especially in times like these, observant Jews turn to gedolei Yisroel for guidance and direction. And that, at the end of the day, is really what an Agudah convention is all about -- the chance to come together with our Torah sages, hear their understanding of current events and receive their counsel."

Along with its change of date and location, this year's Agudath Israel of America National Convention will also feature a change in the traditional Motzei Shabbos program, replacing the regular public Keynote Session with a Melave Malka for convention guests.

The date of this year's convention was changed due to the overlapping of Shabbos Chanukah with the last weekend in November, when the convention is normally held. Agudath Israel organized a massive Leil His'orerus with Gedolei Yisroel at the Brooklyn Marriott hotel on Thursday, November 28, when the convention was traditionally held.

The Melave Malka will commence with greetings by Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, rosh hayeshiva, Yeshiva of Philadelphia, followed by a message from Agudath Israel executive vice president Rabbi Shmuel Bloom. Addresses will be delivered by Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman, rosh hayeshiva, Mesivta Maor Yitzchok; and Rabbi Uren Reich, rosh hayeshiva, Yeshiva of Perth Amboy. The session will be chaired by Rabbi Shlomo Gertzulin, Agudath Israel's vice president for finance and administration.

The evening will conclude with a "Midnight Session with the Maggid: Coping with the Maggid" featuring Rabbi Paysach Krohn, noted lecturer and author of The Maggid Series.

Sunday morning at the Convention will discuss our reaction to reported violence. Has the very regularity of the violence, Rachmono litzlan, inured us, to some degree at least, to the anguish of our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisroel? Our hearts tell us that their pain is our pain, but the way we continue to conduct our lives may be saying something else.

This heart-wrenching topic will be the focus of a Sunday morning symposium. Entitled, "Making the Pain of Klal Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel Our Own," the session will feature addresses by Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, rav of Congregation Beis Yisroel in Minneapolis; Rabbi Yaakov Salomon, noted lecturer and author; and a special guest from Eretz Yisroel.

A second Sunday symposium, "Antisemitism Today -- Old Vinegar, New Casks," will explore the alarming rise of antisemitism around the world. The session, the first of the morning, will feature addresses by Reb Yosef Friedenson, Editor, Dos Yiddishe Vort; Professor Moishe Tzvi Reicher, Agudath Israel World Organization's Director of International Affairs and United Nations Representative; and Rabbi Nosson Scherman, General Editor, Mesorah Publications.


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