Friday, November 14, 2014

92nd Agudah convention gets underway- was broadcast live on the internet, recap, photos, video replay

Thursday night at the 2014 Agudah convention
The 92nd Agudath Israel Convention, 2014 began last night at the  Hilton in Woodcliff Lake. For the first time the Convention was broadcast live in the internet on the frum websites.
 Hamodia - Gedolim and askanim, businessmen and rebbeim mingled as the 92nd annual convention of Agudath Israel of America commenced Thursday, with a focus on the individual’s responsibility to Klal Yisrael and an answer to the timeless question, “What’s on your mind?” It took place at the Hilton Woodcliff Lake in Woodcliff Lake, N.J. For PHOTOS of the convention click HERE and HERE. VIDEO replay HERE

The plenary session of the convention on Thursday evening was chaired by Rabbi Mordechai Levin, administrator of Brooklyn’s Bais Yaakov Academy and a son of Harav Avrohom Chaim Levin, shlita, Rosh Yeshivah of Telshe-Chicago and a member of the Agudah’s Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah. Harav Levin began the evening’s official proceedings by citing his Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Elya Meir Bloch, zt”l, of Telshe.

Harav Levin, a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, citing Rav Chaim Volozhiner, zt”l, who wrote that a Yid was created not only for himself but to benefit others. His aim should be to join with others in solving the problems of the tzibbur — in his country and in Klal Yisrael, and to perfect the world under the dominion of the Ribbono shel Olam. Working for others is the foundation of the life of a person.

Harav Levin said that the Telshe Yeshivah was built on these ideals and sought to produce such talmidim.

The Rosh Yeshivah quoted Rabbeinu Yonah, who wrote that each Yid is a shaliach of Hashem to ensure that others also carry out the will of Hashem. He seeks to be mechazek others —  not only to learn himself but also to see to it that others are immersed in the dvar Hashem.

Harav Yecheskel Levenstein, zt”l, Mashgiach of Mir and Ponevezh Yeshivos, taught that the concept that “Metalmidei yoser mekulam” — that one gains from his talmidim implies that one will gain from giving over to others, for that is the tachlis hachaim.

This charge holds true especially in these challenging times of Ikvese Demeshicha, in these times just before Moshiach’s arrival.

The Gemara in Sanhedrin, however, provides guidance on how to be saved from the travails of these difficult times — occupy yourself with Torah and chessed. By doing so, one becomes a “Klal Yisrael Yid,” and therefore has a share in the zechuyos of Klal Yisrael.

Harav Levin concluded by citing sefer Mesillas Yesharim who writes on the middah of chassidus that Hashem loves the ro’eh ne’eman — the faithful shepherd who endeavors to care for the flock of Klal Yisrael and seeks their welfare and blessing.

The Rosh Yeshivah noted that Agudath Israel has always filled the role of the ro’eh neeman in its valiant efforts to serve the multifaceted needs of Klal Yisrael throughout its history.
Agudah press release-
 A riveting address by Rav Yissocher Frand, shlit"a, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Ner Yisroel - Baltimore, followed. Rav Frand expounded upon an individual's range of responsibilities: personal spiritual growth, showing children a passion for mitzvos,
and the realization that everyone has a unique mission to accomplish in this world. "You know what your mission in this world is based upon what you have a particular passion for," he advised.

The final speech of this session was delivered by Rav Noach Isaac Oelbaum,
shlit"a, Rav of Congregation Nachlas Yitzchok of Kew Gardens Hills, Queens. The crowd listened spellbound as he noted the historical ruchniyus challenges that American Jewry faced - and overcame - and how we too can do the same regarding our generation's challenges. He stressed the need for a yid to learn Torah on a steady basis; the need for parents and mechanchim to realize their capability and responsibility to nurture even non-metzuyanim to their maximum potential; as well as the need for klal Yisroel to recognize that we must do everything possible to bring every child or adult closer to Hashem. "Hashem is our Father, and He cannot be consoled when even one of His children is away from Him," Rav Oelbaum exclaimed.

Promising Initiatives

Agudath Israel of America has long been successful, b'siyatta dishmaya, in helping launch important klal organizations and projects. Many of them were conceived based upon discussions at conventions throughout the years.

This year, a special "The Next Great Initiative" program was launched. Nearly 100 submissions for potential new communal projects were submitted in advance of the convention.

Several of them were presented at a late night session, moderated by Rabbi Gavriel Friedman, senior lecturer at Aish HaTorah in Yerushalayim. Philanthropists Shlomo Werdiger, chairman of the board of trustees of Agudath Israel of America; Yaty Weinreb; Leon Melohn; and Reuven Wolf, listened and inquired about the presentations, which proposed initiatives for chinuch, parnassah, daas Torah and more. Agudath Israel of America and its askanim will commit to support some of these initiatives in the upcoming weeks. One presenter, Reb Itche Toder, summed up the feelings of the audience: "Thank you Agudas Yisroel for reaching out to klal Yisroel in such a real way."

In another session that took place at the same time, Rabbi Paysach Krohn delivered an impassioned speech about the need to help others with parnassah.,
He spoke about the innovative work that Reb Duvi Honig has accomplished in this arena with Parnassah Network, Parnassah Expo, and other major projects. Reb Duvi then related the breadth of the need for communal support, the specifics of some of the projects he launched, as well as real-life anecdotes of people who were helped to become self-sufficient in a dignified manner.

Reb Duvi launched a new "Parnes Bais Knesses" program at the convention. The program calls for special gabbaim to be designated in each shul to evaluate members' parnassah needs and offer them help. Representatives of several
shuls signed up on the spot.

Another session dealt with the pressing challenges regarding end-of-life medical care and the work of Chayim Aruchim, a branch of Agudath Israel of America. Rabbi Gedaliah Weinberger, chairman emeritus of agudath israel board of Trustees, elaborated upon the comprehensive training that a special group of Chayim Aruchim rabbanim have received in this area. Rabbi Weinberger also noted how Chayim Aruchim has already successfully advocated for several prestigious hospitals to modify their end-of-life policies to accommodate frum patients.

Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz, vice president for community affairs at Agudath Israel of America, spoke about how end-of-life issues present a growing challenge to our community. A prestigious panel recently advised that physicians be given greater leverage in deciding patients' fate, even without the consent of patient or family.

Yet another major session tackled key issues relating to our relationships with our spouses and children. Rabbi Moshe Elefant, R"M in Yeshivas Mir-Yerushalayim, spoke about the importance for children to feel secure in their homes and thus develop a healthy sense of self-worth. He implored parents to relate to their children positively, at their level. Rabbi Mordechai Finkelman, Mashgiach at Yeshiva Ohr HaChaim, offered a range of pertinent advice related to maintaining a healthy process for shidduchim, shalom bayis, and relationships with parents and parents-in-law. He stressed how discord between parents is perhaps the most damaging phenomenon in children's chinuch.

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, was pleased by  the public's enthusiastic response to the convention's myriad sessions. "There is no doubt that the convention is tackling issues that genuinely affect the lives of our families," he remarked. "With the personal involvement of so many diverse members of our community, we can, b'ezras Hashem, accomplish more than ever."

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