Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

26 Adar II 5765 - April 6, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Connecting Fathers and Sons

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

What has more branches in Israel than there are Post Offices, promoting Torah learning in more botei midrash worldwide than Daf Yomi? With 70,000 pairs of fathers and sons learning bechavrusa at 960 branches around Israel, and 30,000 pairs in Diaspora kehillos, Ovos UBonim has become a major Torah movement.

Speaking at the third annual Conference of Ovos UBonim Organizers in Jerusalem last Wednesday night, HaRav Michal Zilber, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Zvil, compared Ovos UBonim to revolutionary organizations like Daf Yomi and the Bais Yaakov girls school movement.

500 branch organizers from across the Torah community and from all over Israel gathered to mark the end of the winter zman and to hear divrei chizuk from prominent roshei yeshiva. HaRav Aryeh Finkel, rosh yeshiva of Mir- Brachfeld and moro de'asra of Ovos UBonim for many years, gave divrei brochoh, saying that the Torah learning of young children maintains the world. He described how heart-warming it is to walk into a beis midrash full of boys learning with their fathers.

HaRav Aryeh Shechter gave an inspiring address about the importance of strengthening the connection between parents and children. In a world where many people don't have time for what is important, it is often the children who suffer. They ache for words of encouragement from their parents. They may wait all week for a word of praise. That's why spending an hour together in the beis hamedrash on Shabbos afternoon or motzei Shabbos is so crucial, and can change not only their relationship with their parents but also their attitudes towards learning Torah and keeping mitzvos.

As someone who himself learns with his grandchildren sometimes at Ovos UBonim in Bnei Brak, Rav Shechter described how he saw the simcha of learning being celebrated on Purim at Yeshivas Mordechai HaTzadik with singing and dancing. Children learn about Shabbos, tzedoko and other mitzvos at home, but it takes something like Ovos UBonim to introduce boys to the simchah of learning and to show them how special and privileged they should feel when they learn Torah.

The Keness was chaired by R. Chananya Kahan, who spoke about practical issues for branch organizers, such as the appropriate minimum age for attending Ovos UBonim, how to encourage fathers who don't want to come and learn with their sons and other issues.

Rav Dovid Herskowitz, Ovos UBonim's International Director, launched a project to help boys who unfortunately have no one to learn with. He suggested that it may be possible to find a suitable avreich in the community to learn with these boys each week so that they don't feel left out.

Local organizers who attended the Keness were grateful for the advice and chizuk. R. Shmuel Lopian, who runs two branches in Har Nof, agreed that Ovos UBonim was helping to motivate fathers who didn't often find time to learn with their children. R. Refoel Shachar set up Ovos UBonim in Moshav Matisyahu six years ago and describes it as the highlight of his week; he recently encouraged one father who felt unable to learn with his son to come and just read stories with him in the beis hamedrash rather than leave him to learn by himself.

R. Bezalel Kaufman came from Netivot, where he oversees 10 branches; he started with one but when attendance increased to 200 boys, he encouraged other shuls in the town to open their batei medrash to cope with the demand. This Purim there were almost 750 boys in Netivot learning with their fathers. He tells anyone who is nervous about undertaking the organization of an Ovos UBonim branch that it really runs itself. Not only does the head office send out most of the materials needed, but the concept is already so popular that the beis medrash fills up of its own accord.

Thanks were expressed to the small staff of Ovos UBonim who undertake the enormous task of distributing the materials and prizes required by the 960 branches throughout Israel — from Kiryat Shemona to Eilat plus those overseas — several times each year. It is an operation that is probably unique in its scale and complexity, and it is only possible because of the mesiras nefesh of dedicated volunteers.

Ovos UBonim hasn't stopped opening branches in Israel, but it is also helping to spread the concept of fathers and sons learning together on motzei Shabbos to kehillos around the world. It was announced that during this last winter, 160 branches opened across the United States, and centers are being started in Russia and the Ukraine. Everywhere that Ovos UBonim centers are found, they are changing the lives of fathers and sons, encouraging them to connect with the Torah and with each other.


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