May 24, 2024
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Europe Prepares for Dirshu World Siyum and European Convention

Forty-five years ago, Rabbi Simcha Bamberger came to Manchester, England as one of the city’s first four kollel yungeleit. Rav Osher Westheim, one of the prominent Rabbonim in Manchester at that time, asked him if he could perhaps say a shiur. When Rabbi Bamberger proposed a Daf HaYomi shiur, Rabbi Westheim discouraged him, saying, “If you will be lucky, you will have one person show up! Do something easier.” Rabbi Bamberger was adamant that he wanted to start a Daf HaYomi shiur and put up signs and other forms of publicity. The day of the first shiur dawned… and one person showed up. That one person eventually brought another and by Masechta Shabbos they had ten people. Just one year later, there were 130 and today some 300 people come to listen to Rav Bamberger’s shiur every day!

Fast forward about three decades. Dirshu started its new, ambitious, daily Mishnah Berurah program entitled Daf HaYomi B’Halacha. When someone proposed starting a Daf HaYomi B’Halacha shiur in Manchester, England, a prominent Rav responded, “If you are lucky you will have one person attend.” Dirshu persevered. Today, ten years later, there are thirteen Daf HaYomi B’Halacha shiurim in Manchester.

Earlier this month, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, Nasi of Dirshu, visited Manchester in preparation for the massive Dirshu World Siyum, along with Rabbi Chanoch Greenblatt, head of Dirshu’s operations in Manchester and senior members of Dirshu’s hanhalah in Eretz Yisrael, Rabbi Avigdor Berenstein and Rabbi Shlomo Rozenstein..

Rabbi Rozenstein, Dirshu’s public relations director, commented, “The achdus in the French community is phenomenal. Charedim, non-Charedim, Sefardim and Ashkenazim are all fully mobilize to not only attend the siyum but to utilize it as a springboard to encourage more and more accountable limud haTorah among all French Jews. It is very moving to see so many different communities working together with remarkable achdus for the singular purpose of promoting limud haTorah.”

Rabbi Rozenstein shared a remarkable story that gives insight into the impact that the siyum is making on members of the community. “There are two brothers, the Cohen brothers who own a network of sefarim and Judaica stores in France. They have become big supporters of the concept of a grand World Siyum and created a website where they are encouraging people to sign up to learn a blatt Gemara on the Shabbos before the siyum so that the entire collective community can make an additional siyum haShas together with the lomdei Daf Yomi. On the website you can pick your blatt or several blatt that you will learn on that Shabbos. In this way, the entire Shas will be completed. “

“When I was in Paris, I was touring the Dom de Paris stadium with members of the technical staff. One of the people was the production manager, the person in charge of the sophisticated sound system. He heard me talking with others about signing up to learn on the internet and how it is a joint effort being undertaken by French Jewry. Suddenly, this person, who on the outside did not look Jewish at all, exclaimed in French. ‘I want to sign up too!’ We asked him if he is Jewish, explaining that being Jewish is a prerequisite to signing up. He answered, “Yes, of course, I am Jewish and if all French Jews are participating, I want to as well!’ We pointed out a problem – ‘But you don’t know how to study Talmud!’ He had a ready, adamant reply, ‘You give me someone to study with and I will do it!’”

Another deeply moving moment of a different sort of achdus transpired on the last night in Manchester. Manchester is very far north, thus, in the summer one cannot daven Maariv until about 10:30. Rabbi Chanoch Greenblatt had arranged to pick up Rav Hofstedter from his place of lodging at 10:20 in order to daven Maariv at a local shul.

When Rav Hofstedter came down, he was surprised to see a minyan of Yidden waiting to daven Maariv with him, right there. It wasn’t just a minyan of Yidden, rather it was a minyan of Manchester Daf HaYomi B’Halacha maggidei shiur. The maggidei shiur, who know better than anyone how this vital Dirshu program has transformed the daily lives of the hundreds of people who collectively attend the various shiurim, came to show their hakaras hatov to the organization that has made it their life’s mission to enrich Klal Yisroel with limud haTorah.

By Chaim Gold

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