Attempting to talk with HaRav Eliezer Sorotzkin, CEO of Chinuch Atzmai, at the beginning of the school year is next to impossible. In the new school year of 5780, Chinuch Atzmai will reach a new peak of 295 schools spread throughout the country with 110,000 students.
In the past, when Chinuch Atzmai had only 60,000 students, HaRav Shach said of HaRav Shraga Grosbard, the administrator of Chinuch Atzmai, that "Rav Shrage is the biggest Rosh Yeshiva in the whole world," and he truly deserved that title.
In order to ensure that the school year in all of the branches open according to schedule, and the 110,000 students will duly be integrated and initiated in the new school year, a long and exhausting period of preparation was required. From early morning to late at night, Rav Sorotzkin visited the various Chinuch Atzmai institutions all over the country. It was necessary to install new principals and teachers, organize new accommodations for new and expanding existing schools, deal with the various difficulties cropping up and overcome the constant hurdles.
On an alternate front, Rav Sorotzkin has also served as the head of Lev L'Achim for the past twenty-five years. And here, too, the beginning of the new school year is a challenging one. At the end of a grueling day and far into night at Chinuch Atzmai, we still had not found the opportunity to sit down with him for a talk since Rav Sorotzkin still had to meet with the coordinators of Lev L'Achim who were occupied in registering many new students to the Chinuch Atzmai schools.
"I am not a political man," says Rav Sorotzkin, adding with a smile, "I was delegated to the very symbolic 120th place on the Degel HaTorah list, a place which has no relevance regarding the upcoming elections. But as one who, by virtue of his office, finds himself walking the hallways of government offices and local municipalities, I can emphatically declare: if there is someone who, on the day of the elections, remains at home and says, `What difference will one vote make anyway?', or one who could have an influence on others to vote and doesn't do so - is in my eyes, a rodef, a persecutor of Jewish children, purely and simply.
"At this point, when the surveys are wavering and we don't know if the chareidim will be needed to form a coalition in the new government, I hear officials allowing themselves to talk differently. There are some offices and government authorities, who, when approached by us for all kinds of assistance, spurn us and say, `Wait, let's see what happens in the elections.' We can only conclude that it will be expected to be very bad for us if the situation arises that they don't need us.
"And so, I repeatedly issue a warning: if we will no longer have any clout, it will be very dangerous for all the institutions of pure education in Eretz Yisroel."