At the initiative of two local young women, the “Ahavat Yisrael” program was created. Its purpose is to identify the many meaningful learning opportunities available to the Teaneck, Bergenfield and New Milford communities during the Three Weeks, which begin on Sunday, July 21, with Shiva Asar B’Tammuz. The entire event will be held l’ilui nishmat Reuven Tzvi ben Menachem Yitzhak, who brought kiddush Hashem and achdut to Jews worldwide. Through contacting the 18+ rabbis and assistant rabbis in the community, they ascertained when their drashot regarding the period marking the beginning of the Churban Beit Hamikdash would take place, and what their specific topics would be. In every case, the rabbis were open to focusing upon topics related to Ahavat Yisrael.
In sharing their ideas, the initiators expressed their belief that the Three Weeks can be utilized as a period in the Jewish calendar during which we can focus more intensely on our relationships, whether familial or intra/inter-community. By elevating the seriousness of the period to a time of positive reflection upon our attitudes and actions toward the people in our lives, we are adding a constructive and spiritually uplifting component to our observance of the Three Weeks.
In pursuing this goal, the women approached the rabbis, all of whom were extremely positive toward the idea and very cooperative in moving it forward. Special thanks to Rabbi Neuburger of Congregation Beth Abraham and Rabbi Baum of Congregation Keter Torah, as well as Rebbetzin Efrat Sobolofsky of Congregation Ohr Hatorah with whom they initially consulted. Rabbi Pruzansky of Congregation Bnei Yeshurun was the first to sign up and was very supportive along with Cong. Rinat Yisrael's Assistant Rabbi Wiener. All of the other community rabbis were in favor of the initiative and cooperative in sharing their ideas and topics.
Fourteen community women, in addition to the original two, spearheaded the initiative, lent their names and served as the contact persons in their own shuls. Approximately two months ago, a letter went out to the rabbis introducing their idea of relating their drashot and week-night presentations during the Three Weeks to the concept of Ahavat Yisrael. Suggestions for topics included “Family Ties: Maintaining Ahavat Yisrael in Our Families; Ahavat Yisrael in Our Community; Ahavat Yisrael Writ Large: Advocacy on Behalf of the Jewish People; Ahavat Yisrael in Marriage.” The rabbis were provided with a calendar on which to indicate the date and time of their proposed drasha/presentation. Female presenters were also approached with the idea and readily agreed to participate.
The initiators shared, “Our community should take pride in the immediate response we received from all of our community rabbis, Ashkenazi as well as Sephardi, from large and small congregations, as well as from guest speakers who were happy to have been approached to participate in this event of achdut. This itself exemplifies ahavat Yisrael.”
Please consult the poster in The Link for details about specific drashot and presentations during the upcoming Three Weeks, which will take place on Shabbat as well as on weekdays. The hope of the organizers is that members of our community will visit shuls other than their own to hear a variety of approaches and be inspired by the erudition of the many Torah scholars of our special community.
By Pearl Markovitz