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On Monday, August 24, 2020, the Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim (RAA), Chazaq and the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) partnered to present the RAA’s 78th annual pre-High Holiday “Chomer LiDrush” (homiletics) session. An annual event, the Chomer LiDrush session offers timely examples of sermon material from master speakers and thinkers, to help rabbis prepare their own speeches and classes during the upcoming holidays. This year’s conference, held online due to the global pandemic, prepares rabbis for a particularly challenging holiday season full of opportunities to discuss personal, communal and theological issues. To offer useful and compelling Torah content during this unique year, RAA partnered with NCYI and Chazaq in bringing six distinguished rabbis to address the gathering:
- Rabbi Yaakov Klass, Chomer LiDrush Session Chairman; Presidium Member RAA/Igud; Rav, Congregation Bnei Matisyahu, Brooklyn, NY; Shoel U’Meishiv, Kollel Ayshel Avraham Rabbinical Seminary, Monsey, NY; Torah Editor, The Jewish Press.
- Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Emeritus Chief Rabbi of United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth
Chief Bukharin Rabbi Yitzchak Yisraeli, Chief Bukharin Rabbi of USA & Canada
- Rabbi Dr. Hanania Elbaz, Presidium Member of the RAA/Igud; Rabbi of Congregation Ahi-Ezer, Yeshivah Synagogue, Brooklyn, New York.
- Rabbi Yaakov Spivak, Presidium Member RAA/Igud; Rosh Kollel, Ayshel Avraham Rabbinical Seminary, Monsey, NY.
- Rabbi Moshe Taub, Rabbi of Young Israel of Holliswood, Holliswood, NY; Menahel at Telshe Riverdale; Halacha Rebbe at Queens Beis Yaakov Shevach High School; and Rabbinic Editor of Ami Magazine
RAA partnered with Torah Anytime to make this conference widely available around the world. Through its effective use of technology, Torah Anytime has quickly become one of the greatest promoters of Torah learning in the world, particularly during this stressful period of isolation. RAA is proud of its close relationship with this important organization.
This special conference was sponsored by Rebetzein Fayge Eisner in memory of her husband, HaRav Shlomo (Saul) Ben HaRav Levi Yitzchok Eisner, ZT” L, Rabbi Saul Eisner, previous Executive Vice-President of the RAA. Rabbi Saul Eisner was a leading figure in the post-World War II generation, a scion from an illustrious Chabad family, a graduate and Musmach of the Mir Yeshiva. Rabbi Eisner nobly served a myriad of Jewish institutions, of which the most beloved to him was the Igud HaRabbonim. For nearly 40 years Rabbi Eisner dedicated his life and energy to the Igud HaRabbonim for the sole purpose of advocating for the honor of the rabbinate and the Jewish people. Since his passing in 2011, the RAA has dedicated the Chomer LiDrush session in his sacred memory.
Rabbi Yaakov Klass, presidium chairman of the Igud HaRabbonim, explained, “Rabbi Eisner firmly believed that the American rabbi must be a genuine Talmid Chacham with additional expertise in conducting himself professionally with his congregation and positively influencing American Jews by making them comfortable in order to be receptive to the message of authentic, Torah-true Judaism. A rabbi must carefully prepare his speeches and classes for the High Holidays because during this season he reaches his broadest audience. For these holy days, the rabbi needs a powerful, heartfelt message. Rabbi Eisner made certain that the Igud HaRabbonim, under his careful watch, brought together the best array of Chomer LiDrush presenters as possible. That is why on his passing, the RAA dedicated this important homiletic session in his memory.”
The Chomer LiDrush conference offered a wide variety of thoughts about the current crisis and the upcoming holidays. During the sessions, Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks offered philosophical insights on faith and community as related to Rosh Hashanah. Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yisraeli emphasized the current opportunity to improve how we speak about others and strengthen our synagogues and prayers. Rabbi Yaakov Klass discussed crucial halachic questions in this unusual time of illness. Rabbi Yaakov Spivak explored reasons for the crisis, and its connection to the Holocaust, in search for the appropriate response during the holidays. Rabbi Moshe Taub stunningly highlighted the impact of a single individual’s actions on the whole world, as evidenced in the genesis of the Coronavirus from a single person’s actions. Rabbi Hanania Elbaz expanded on lessons of faith in the practices and prayers of the High Holidays.
“This year is different than all of the past Chomer LiDrush Sessions of the RAA”, stated Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the RAA. Mirocznik continued, “Last year, when Klal Yisrael assembled for the High Holidays, we had no idea that the year would bring the Covid 19 pandemic, along with it quarantine, loss of life, and disruption of the world we once knew. Our lives turned upside down, our economy took a beating. Our children and seniors, our most vulnerable together with the rest of the world are suffering immeasurably both physically and emotionally. This year, the RAA decided to share our Chomer LiDrush and to partner with Chazaq, a national outreach organization that successfully reaches out to all Jews across communities, and the National Council of Young Israel, a premiere synagogue organization, to bring hope and inspiration to rabbi and laymen alike. What better way to help get the Jewish community in the holiday spirit than to collaborate with like-minded organizations in bringing forth a message of hope and inspiration. We were particularly honored to have two chief rabbis speak — Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Rabbi Yitzchak Yisraeli — who offered their experience and wisdom to our diverse membership of rabbis across the Orthodox spectrum. With Hashem’s help, we will get through this trying time and, through the power of unity, build a foundation of resilience and strength that will make us as individuals and as a community stronger and more unified.
“On behalf of the RAA, I thank the multi-talented brothers, Rabbi Yaniv Meirov and Rabbi Elan Meirov of Chazaq, for joining forces together with Rabbi Binyamin Hammer, the venerable director of Rabbinic Services of the National Council of Young Israel, and the Igud HaRabbonim, to produce an exceptional program of Chomer LiDrush with a message of hope and inspiration for 5781. It is our prayer that we succeed in renewing the faith of our listener and offering them spiritual strength to succeed in this difficult time. I also thank Rabbi Dovid Katz, Menahel/Director of the RAA and Rabbi Moish Schmerler, Administrative Director of the RAA, for coordinating with Robbie Aboff and for producing a wonderful Chomer LiDrush Program.”
Rabbi Yaniv Meirov stated, “We at Chazaq are proud to have hosted and worked together with the Igud HaRabbonim and National Council of Young Israel in making this program the success that it was. We look forward to further collaboration with the Igud and National Council with the aim of bringing hope to the Jewish Community and strengthening their Jewish identity. Thank you, Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik and Rabbi Binyamin Hammer, for your true friendship and partnership in spreading the warmth, joy and love of Torah.”
Rabbi Binyamin Hammer stated, “The Igud HaRabbonim enjoys a long working relationship with the National Council of Young Israel spanning over 78 years. I thank Rabbis Yaniv and Elan Meirov, Rabbi Mirocznik and the leadership team of the Igud HaRabbonim for jointly working together with us in developing a great program. This program gave encouragement and support to our rabbis so they are prepared to bring energy and spirit to their communities. May we merit to join for the 79th Igud HaRabbonim’s Chomer LiDrush session next year in a fully rebuilt Jerusalem.
PICTURES BELOW THE VIDEO
Names in Pictures
Picture (1) Left to Right, a group of members of the Igud HaRabbonim visiting Chazaq, left to right, Rabbi Yehuda Blank, director Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs RAA; Rabbi Akiva Homnick; Clergy Liaison, RAA; Rabbi Yaniv Meirov; executive director of Chazaq; Rabbi Yaakov Klass, presidium chairman of the RAA; Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the RAA; Rabbi Moish Schmerler, administrative director of the RAA; Reb. Mordechai Schmerler, son of Rabbi Moish Schmerler and the next generation of the RAA; and Reb Robbie Aboff from Chazaq and coordinator of the Chomer LiDrush session.
Picture (2) Left to Right, Rabbi Yaniv Meirov; executive director of Chazaq; Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the RAA; and Rabbi Yaakov Klass, presidium chairman of the RAA
Picture (3) Members of the Igud HaRabbonim touring Chazaq
Picture (4) Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president of the RAA Addressing Chazaq.
Picture (5) Rabbi Yaakov Klass, presidium chairman of the Igud HaRabbonim addressing Chazaq