Sunday, December 30, 2012

Motzei Shabbos session recap at Agudah convention 2012

  Following an uplifting shabbos the  Motzei Shabbos session was a melava malka setting the theme-Agudath Israel Centennial Banquet, which reflected on 100 years since the founding of Agudah in katowice, Poland.
The Evening Chairman was Mr. bentzion Fishoff a long time Agudah veteran activist.

Rav Avrohom Chaim Levin Rosh Yeshiva Telshe Chicago spoke about the many unknown acts of Kiddush shem shomayim and chesed, the dedication of previous gedolim and leaders of Agudath Yisrael. Who remembers? asked the RY all the achrayus of Mike tress or Moshe sherer, or Rav Itche Mier Levin. Who remembers the dedication of Rav Chaskel Besser  the thousands of details that Rav Boruch Borchadt put together, is it forgotten? NO! the Ribono Shel Olam knows, its recorded in his sefer it is inscribed in that great Sefer Zikaron. He concluded by saying that as Agudah turns 100 years old since the founding in Katowitc, youth doesn't appreciate old age, we need hischadshus and dedication we need young blood to get involved in Agudas israel of America.Let us be mechazek and devote ourselves to join the Agudah..ויעשו כולם אגודה אחת

 Chacahm Yosef Harari raful RY Ateret Torah, Brooklyn mentioned how the Agudah in Eretz Yisrael fought with the Govt to save Torah Values in EY. The struggle today is different than back than and we must listen and follow the gedolim. The recent  Internet Asifa at Citifield gave a Hisoirerus of which we can get Siyata Dishmaya, so too the Siyum hashas which through Agudah brought 90,000 Yidden together and the Shiurei Torah that they spread brings Siyata Dishmaya ashrei Chelkam.
 Noted Singer MBD was on hand to provide Zemiros for the Melava Malka.
 Rav Doniel Alter from yerushalayim a son of the Pnei Menachem the previous Gerer Rebbe spoke in Yiddish. He elaborated on the fact That Agudah is here to be Mamlich Kvod shomayim. By Bringing all stripes of klal Yisrael together as the gemara says נהרא נהרא ופשטיה.

A audio visual presentation was shown titled the heritage of katowice opening With rabbi chaim Dovid Zweibel standing at the line of scrimmage in an empty Metlife stadium stressing the importance of Agudah from its founding to today how it is as relevant today as it was than it went through the history of Agudah how it spread from Poland throughout Europe than to NY and now throughout the US in 26 states. It concluded with rabbi Zwiebel (walking toward the end zone ) proclaiming we must rise up and meet the challenge.
Harav Malkiel Kotler rosh Yeshiva of Bais Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, Delivered his remarks in English, he  referred to his Grandfather Rav Aaron Kotler who when he came to America he made sure there was Torah learned and Talmidei Chachomim who would have a hashkafa al pi torah. We entrust the gedolim who lead us no matter if we understand or not. We are one heart even though we are many faces.

Noted Attorney Nat Lewin or Nosson Levine  whose grandfather was the Reischer rav, Rav Aharon Levine, who was instrumental at the founding of agudah and spoke at the early Knessiah gedolah. Mr. Lewin captivated the audience by opening his remarks in Yiddish as he is not speaking at the supreme court, saying he usually only gets 30 minutes to argue a case in the supreme court when a red warning light goes off although he was only allotted 20 minutes he joked about no red lights here. He mentioned how he was a law clerk to Justice John Marshal Harlan II on the supreme court who he called a Mentch. When he told the judge that he was an orthodox Jew who observes shabbos, the judge was receptive and said its no problem at all, his co clerk can take over on shabbos. Interestingly Mr. lewin said back then each judge had 2 law Clerks and yet the supreme court decided 150 cases. Today each justice has 4 law clerks and the court only decides 75 cases. He elaborated on a case he argued regarding a chaplain who was.not allowed to wear a yarmulka in the air force. His litigation eventually bore fruits as congress passed a law allowing one to wear a yarmulka. A special camouflage yarmulka was manufactured at the time, in a humorous twist of events judge Brennen on the supreme court wore a yarmulka for a day which Mr. Lewin  jokingly remarked "the first supreme court judge to wear a yarmulka is a roman catholic. As expected he mentioned the Rubashkin case and he said we must not forget about Rav sholom Mordechai. שמור וזכור is Roshei teivos שלום מרדכי רובשקין.

Dayan, Rav Aaron Dovid Dunner from London, the last speaker of the evening joked about the late hour  saying he didn't intend to say bedtime stories and unlike the others he plans to keep his speach short. he noted they are closer to Shachris of sunday than the inspiration mentiond of chazak chazak by shachris on shabbos. Looking  at the 100 years we must know that true askanus requires Emes. Rav yaakov Roesnheim was emes. The word Politika said Rav Dunner is not a word you will find in Lashon hakodesh there is no Emes there. If we show the world and we don't bend our words we keep to toras emes  people wont start up with the Torah knowing we are true to the torah of which we follow.

for Agudah Convention Tapes and Cd's or mp3 of 90th 2012 convention  email: or mail this order form: 


  1. Wow, very inspiring. Beautiful recap. Its so much easier reading it 'bikitzur' than having to sift through a long article...

  2. The dinner seemed to be viewed by some as Cinderella’s ball. Some thought they should wear the most very fanciest dress in their closets. No matter that this was a Hilton in some remote city in New Jersey. They dressed as though they were attending a Harvard dinner at the Midtown Marriott.

    The only thing Harvard in that room turned out to be Nat Lewin, who works at the US Supreme Court. He gave extraordinary accounts of the cases he initiated to secure the rights of Jews in USA from young Boston athletes, to yarmulkas for the Marines. His message was clear, “Fight for your rights!” We wish his red light would have waited so that we could hear more from him but alas the morning stars were about to rise!

    Mr Fishoff’s recount of pre-holocaust Europe was riveting. He told of rosh yeshivas that actually gave a damn about their talmidim. The Telzer rosh yeshiva that made sure he had supper every night. It left me wondering about current day politics enmeshed fundraisers that show up intermittently to yeshiva to claim their shtender position. Mr Fishoff indeed left me wishing for the days of old.

    Another excellent speaker was Rabbi Doniel Alter. He prepared amply for his speech. Mark Twain says, “If you want me to speak for two hours, I need ten minutes to prepare but if you want me to speak for ten minutes, I need two hours to prepare”. While the other speakers subscribed to the former, Rav Alter was clearly the latter. Every sentence was compact. Every word mattered. He used the word “Kaitz” from the parsha and had it signify the 90th convention year and the 100th year of Agudath Israel’s existence. He brought in “Katowicz” for its kuf and tzadik as well and acribed the middle to “Tov”. I krechtsed at my non-Yiddish speaking fellow melave malka’ers who missed a great delivery.

    The most laughs of the evening definitely went to Rav Dunner. He also brought up a topic that could only be addressed by an ego-free leader, “emes”. He described the founders of Agudah who were resolute in their commitment to “emes”. It left a glaring contrast to the current “dynasty”. He enumerated the causes of old that are no longer funded by Agudah such as Hisachdus in Israel. He said Agudah is up to different causes these days. Someone asked Rav Dunner if he thought he would be asked back next year. I hope he will be. I hope there are many that hope he will be.

    Rav Dunner said that as a child in Camp Agudah, he asked Mr Goodman, “Who was the first Agudist?” Mr Goodman replied, “Moshe Rabeinu.”

    Rav Dunner also explored the distinction between “Askan” and “politician”. He said since there are no unclean words in Lashon Kodesh and there is no word for politician. It would follow that there is no place for such a position by someone frum. I found it reinforcing of what I told my son of my impression of the lectures the first night. A lot of talk and not a whole lot of doing, which is why they all get along so well with congressmen!

    After Rav Dunner’s speech it was almost 2:00am so the kumzitz was cancelled.
    Thus concluded four days of speeches, food and dressing up. I took the good and bad and tried to hold onto the good. May we as a nation be inspired and may our leaders learn how to be better people and rise to our community’s ever evolving challenges.

  3. Agudah chairman Rabbi Zweibel ushered in the weekend with the introduction to the theme which was “Shomrei acheinu anachnu” – “We are our brothers’ keepers!”. He asked what our responsibility is to our brothers in their time of need. While he enumerated many philosophical reasons why we as Jews should help each other, I found myself searching for a “quantifiable” expectation. I was reminded of a dvar torah I had once heard on what was the zchus of the Jews of Mitzrayim that tipped the scale to their redemption. The Torah says that Bnei Yisroel went out “Chamushim” which is translated as armed. Rashi however says that it can also mean one fifth. He elaborates to say that four fifths of Bnei Yisroel were not meritorious of redemption and they died during the plague of darkness. Other midrashim take this explanation and go on to say that four fifths of the adults died but their children survived. This means that for every five families of children there were only two parents. Klal Yisroel joined together and each set of parents took on FOUR other families. That is what the pasuk means when it says Bnei Yisroel went out “Chamushim” with each couple having five times their own family!

    If we are hoping to bring the geulah, we must emulate our ancestors. What if each family took on four people to take under their wing and give of their time and/or resources? If you are a lawyer, have four pro-bono cases running at any given time. When one completes find a new one. If you are a doctor, have four patients that you treat for free or at least with accepting their insurance as full payment. If you are not in a position to help financially with ma’aser, give 10% of your time, listening, helping with paperwork, taking them out for coffee once a week or inviting them over for a meal. Every person has something to give to someone less fortunate than themselves. It would also shift the focus from our own issues and maybe bring about a change in our priorities and what really matters in life.

    The next speaker was Rabbi Reich who we were told was being whisked off to Lakewood immediately after his speech, to deliver a shiur. What I got from Rabbi Reich was that it was his belief that the reason New York City is having an issue with bris milah, is directly related to our alleged complacency regarding the legalization of gay marriage. I beg to differ. While we cannot control an Irish gay in Greenwich Village, we can control our chadarim. Hashem would sooner hold our nation accountable for nevalus that goes on with our Tinokos shel bais Raban, than a goy defiling himself in a pub in New York City. Let’s keep the focus on US and not project outwards!

    Thus concluded four days of speeches, food and dressing up. I took the good and bad and tried to hold onto the good. May we as a nation be inspired and may our leaders learn how to be better people and rise to our community’s ever evolving challenges.