Thursday, June 28, 2012

Birthright: Just the Beginning

By Whitney Keeperman, Rockland Jewish Reporter 

For years I heard great things about Birthright Israel trips, and in 2010, my sister and I finally decided to apply. I had already finished college, but because of my ties to Rockland County (I work at our family business in Haverstraw), the luck of the draw paired us with Rabbi Dov Oliver, director of Hillel of Rockland.

When I spoke with Rabbi Dov on the phone, I knew I was in for quite an experience, as his passion for Judaism and Israel was obvious from the start. Although I was not raised religious by any means, I have always felt a deep connection to my heritage and have yearned to learn more. Never could I have imagined how enlightening my trip to Israel would be, and what long-lasting effects it would have.

Rabbi Dov and the other group leaders made my trip so memorable. The feeling I had stepping off the plane in Israel was indescribable. We were welcomed so warmly by everyone. I was overwhelmed by the sense of home in Israel and the sense of family in our group.

For some participants, the trip itself is a great adventure, but once they return to their “real life” they simply fall out of touch with their leaders and friends. My experience has been very different: my journey has continued.

Not only did I gain a lot through the trip itself, but I now have a devoted rabbi — and five dear friends in Dov, Shevy and their three daughters. I am so thankful for the Olivers and how much enthusiasm and light they have brought to my life.

Since returning home from Israel, I frequently visit them for Shabbat lunch, Hebrew lessons or just to hang out. Rabbi Dov organizes frequent Birthright alumni events throughout the year to bring our group back together and to keep Judaism and Israel close to our hearts. These events also give us an opportunity to meet people who went on other Birthright Israel trips and to broaden our social and career networks.

Since the trip I have begun to light Shabbat candles whenever I can. I have decided to date only Jewish men, because I want the future father of my children to share the culture that is so special to me. I am more conscience of the food I eat and try to follow a more kosher lifestyle. I have gained knowledge and answers to my many questions about Jewish traditions.

Perhaps the most life altering influence the trip has had on me has been in my decision to return to Israel for ten months to teach English. I am so excited about this next adventure in my life.

Seeking Ride

Seeking a ride this Friday for one male from Crown Heights to Monsey and a ride on Motzai Shabbos from Monsey to Crown Heights. Please call 845-608-3360.

Tutor Available

Rabbi Silber will be available for tutoring during the summer months for students who would like to receive tutoring in most subjects (Judaic and secular) or Bar Mitzva lessons (Maamer and/or Laining).

This may be an opportunity for a student who may need some advancement in skills before the coming school year. Rabbi Silber has a Masters in Education and five years of experience teaching students from elementary to high school age.

Reasonable rates and first-come first-served basis. Rabbi Silber can be reached at 773-805-2770.

Advance Voting for Tzemach Tzedek Meeting

The board of Tzemach Tzedek has decided to allow shul members who are unable to attend the Annual General Meeting to vote about the time for Shacharis in the summer in advance.

The meeting is taking place this Sunday night, July 1, at 8:00 PM at Tzemach Tzedek.

The question to be determined is whether to change the starting time for Shabbos Shacharis between Pesach and Rosh Hashanah from 9:30 AM to 10:00 AM.

All full members in good financial standing are entitled to vote.

If you will not be able to attend the A.G.M., you can either submit your vote in writing or email Avraham Hayman and Tzadok Leib Messing

A discount is being offered to become a member of Congregation Tzemach Tzedek.  Pay 25% of the fees up front and get 15 months of membership for the price of twelve!  This means if you join now you will be able to vote in the upcoming elections and summer Shabbos Shacharis starting time.

To become a member, please either contact Avraham Hayman at or speak to one of the trustees of the Shul board.

Jewish Women's Symposium in Kingston

On Sunday, July 15, 25 Tammuz, Rabbi Yitzchok Schochet of England will be the keynote speaker at the first ever Jewish Woman Symposium in Kingston, New York, together with other scholars and great Jewish thinkers of our time including Dr. Chanah Silberstein, Mrs. Malka Touger, HaRav Berel Bell and Rabbi Ari Raskin.

Cheder 8th Grade Boys Graduate

This past Wednesday night, Cheder Chabad of Monsey held its third 8th grade graduation for the boys divison!

Cheder principal, Rabbi Wolowik welcomed everyone and introduced Menachem Mendel Litzman and Avi Altman, student of the 8th grade to act as MC. The MC called upon fellow talmidim: Moshe Holtzberg to recite the Rebbe’s kapitel Tehillim; Dovid Amsel to recite the Rebetzin’s kapitel Tehillim; and Menachem Mendel Rubashkin to recite to recite his father’s kapitel.

The dean and founder of the Cheder, Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman was then called upon to read a letter of the Rebbe. He then translated the letter and shared a few personal words expressing the emotions he felt observing the third graduating class of Cheder that started in Nursery and matured into talmidim hamesaymin in Kitah Ches. He stressed the importance for talmidim to always interact with their peers with ahavasYisroel. Before introducing the Moroh D’asrah of Kehilas Chabad in Monsey, Rabbi Boruch Lesches, the MC thanked him for all the time he spends with the bochurim farhering them and answering all their questions.

Rabbi Lesches shared with the graduates some very warm and personal words on what is expected from the talmidim as they grow up, highlighting the importance of the talmidim being devoted to their learning and being neiros lehoir. Fellow talmid Shaul Rimler shared a beautiful d’var Torah stressing the importance for the talmidim to take a lesson for Korach’s mistake of doing what you are told and not doing too little or adding items that Hashem does not want. Since the graduation was a few days before Gimmel Tammuz, Menachem Mendel Hirsh then spoke about how the Rebbe cared for every single Yid and the importance of each talmid strengthening their hiskashrus to the Rebbe. This was followed by Meir Kolt representing the class in performing a siyum on Meseches Mackos followed by a hadran based on a sicha of the Rebbe.

Moshe Eli Stuart represented the class in talking about what the Cheder experience meant to him, highlighting the influence of his melamdim and teachers starting in Kitah Aleph and how they developed within him a love for learning Torah and Yiddishkeit. Dovid Jacobs expressed gratitude to Cheder personnel on behalf of his class, especially their beloved 8th grade rebbi, Rabbi Yossi Soble, for all the personal time that he invested in each talmid individually and for all the exciting activities and trips he planned for the class. The evening was concluded by words of encouragement from the General Studies Principal, Mr. David Kandel.

The Cheder Principal, Rabbi Avrohom Wolowik and Mr. Kandel then distributed to all students the diplomas and a specially inscribed Tanya. As the children received their diplomas, Rabbi Wolowik shared a personal message with each individual talmid highlighting their accomplishments and wishing them hatzlacha in Mesivta and beyond. A beautiful yearbook was also distributed to the talmidim. They raised funds for ads in the book and used the profit for a fun and enriching graduation trip.

It was a truly inspirational and happy event. We wish the graduates much hatzlacha in all their endeavors!

R' Yossi Paltiel Farbrenging for Gimmel Tammuz at Tzemach Tzedek

Photos: R' Avraham Hayman

Message From the Haymans

We would like to thank the 45 families who generously participated in the Cheder Chabad of Monsey triple match appeal!

Pledges for more than $30,000 were made.

These are new pledges after the already impressive Cheder dinner donations. This will result in a total of about $90,000 going to the Cheder and new girl's school building.

The new school building is progressing on schedule, with lots of thanks to Nadler Mobile and Zalman Goldstein, our volunteer project manager. We do need more donations to finish the project, so if anyone would like to donate directly for the new school building, please contact Zalman Goldstein at

Avraham and Devorah Hayman