July 15, 2024
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Nearly a Half Million Children Worldwide Connect With Chofetz Chaim on Yom Limud and Tefilla

(Courtesy of Dirshu) Close to a half million children worldwide participated in the Dirshu International Yom Limud and Tefilla and the Acheinu Day of Jewish Unity on the Chofetz Chaim’s yahrtzeit this past Tuesday, 24 Elul/September 24. The event was unprecedented in size and scope, and the kiddush Hashem was colossal.

From South Africa to Belarus and from Venezuela to Lakewood and Brooklyn, children learned the sefarim of the Chofetz Chaim and heard inspiring stories about him.

Throughout the diverse communities across the United States and Canada, a wide range of more than 90 schools truly representing the entire panoply of Orthodox Jewry participated in the Yom Limud and Tefilla school programs. They included schools hailing from communities such as Monsey, NY; Lakewood, NJ; Brooklyn, NY; Manhattan, NY; Toronto, Canada; Houston, TX; Baltimore, MD; Cleveland, OH; Waterbury, CN; Phoenix, AZ; Passaic, NJ; Denver, CO; Boston, MA; Los Angeles, CA; and Providence, RI, and so many more.

This year, Dirshu’s fifth annual international Yom Limud and Tefilla held on the yahrzeit of the Chofetz Chaim was perhaps the most successful such event to date. Hundreds of thousands of Jews from over 25 countries came together to learn the lessons of the Chofetz Chaim and daven on behalf of the Jewish people before Rosh Hashanah.

The effort to follow in the path of the Chofetz Chaim and promote unity and avoidance of interpersonal strife and gossip extended well beyond the Torah-observant community. That effort, spearheaded by the Acheinu organization, the kiruv arm of Dirshu, was also remarkably well received. This idea of the importance of Jewish unity was even picked up by the secular press. Articles about the importance of the Day of Jewish Unity that coincides with the yahrzeit of the Chofetz Chaim appeared in numerous general publications such as The Hill, The New York Daily News, Times of Israel, Jerusalem Post and Townhall.com.

The Yom Limud and Tefilla and the Day of Jewish Unity was established by Dirshu for the purpose of uniting all Jews specifically on the auspicious occasion of the Chofetz Chaim’s yahrzeit right before Rosh Hashanah, in a unified tefilla that would to invoke Divine mercy.

The Yom Limud and Tefilla always begins with thousands streaming to join a special maamad of tefilla at the Kosel in the early vasikin hours. The Kosel, the last remnant of the Beis Hamikdash, is the most auspicious place in the world for the acceptance of tefillos and is the place to which the Chofetz Chaim constantly referred, reminding us that we must prepare for its rebuilding. Starting with the earnest recitation of Selichos followed by an especially moving davening in advance of Rosh Hashanah, the tefilla gathering at the Kosel concluded with the emotional, thunderous recital of special chapters of Tehillim on behalf of klal Yisrael and the tefilla of acheinu kol beis Yisrael.

The Yom Limud and Tefilla was also marked in countless schools the world over. Each school commemorated the yahrtzeit of the Chofetz Chaim in the way best suited to its needs. Some schools held large, school-wide assemblies where the principals and teachers spoke about the legacy of the Chofetz Chaim and where all of the children davened together on behalf of klal Yisrael.

In other schools, each teacher distributed special materials to their class individually and taught the class about the yahrtzeit followed by tefillos.

Dirshu made available remarkably compelling, artfully designed booklets in both English and Yiddish for three different age groups: grades 1-3, 4-5 and 6-8. The 20-page booklets were written by well-known educator and writer Rabbi Yechiel Spero. Each of the three versions of booklets contain beautiful stories about the Chofetz Chaim and other gedolim that emphasize the lessons taught by the Chofetz Chaim. The compelling stories with captivating graphics made the children want to read it and be inspired. As a complement to the program, Rabbi Spero recorded a CD with a story of the Chofetz Chaim that was distributed to each child in the many participating schools.

The effort to reach out beyond the Orthodox community was highly successful.

No less a well-known figure than Anthony Scaramucci wrote in the New York Daily News, “Growing up in a heavily Jewish neighborhood, I attended many bar mitzvah celebrations; back then at age 13, it never even occurred to me that I should have to worry for the safety of myself and others while in these houses of worship. It sickens me that today’s 13-year-olds do have these thoughts. The Jewish people have always embraced people of all races and religions; they deserve the same from the rest of America.

“As such, Americans of all faiths should join together on Sept. 24 to celebrate the Day of Jewish Unity, an annual event organized by Acheinu, the outreach arm of the Jewish education organization Dirshu. This event has always been about tolerance, kindness and strength; this year there is the added dimension of us loudly uniting against anti-Semitism—because we have seen where anti-Semitism leads.”

Noelle Nikpour, an acclaimed political strategist and frequent Fox News commentator, wrote in The Hill, one of Washington’s most prominent political websites, “There needs to be more unity in our nation moving forward. We cannot better our nation and preserve our traditions if we do not work together. And part of that work is standing up against anti-Semitism. So join me on Sept. 24… On that day, Acheinu, the outreach arm of the educational organization Dirshu, will host its annual prayer event… Regardless of your religious affiliation, I ask that you join us to pray for peace and acceptance.”

Jeremy Frankel, a well-known political commentator, writing in the resurgent.com, summed it up succinctly, “If one were to ask what our nation’s creed is founded on, a good answer would be E Pluribus Unum,’ Latin for ‘out of many, one.’ The phrase has been our national motto since our founding in 1776 and is found on both the Great Seal of the United States and on our currency. It is a clear symbol of unity, which is something Americans could all use today. So we must stand together. Acheinu, a branch of the nonprofit Dirshu organization, is giving us the perfect opportunity to do so this Sept. 24 on their annual Day of Jewish Unity, urging Jews around the world to come together in prayer—prayer for peace, prayer for civility and prayer to end the hatred.”

“Each year, Acheinu holds this day in honor of the great Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (aka the Chofetz Chaim, 1839-1933) and his teachings, specifically his teachings on the evils of gossip and the power of prayer. Each year, Jews from nearly every continent pledge to support one another and refrain from divisive speech. This year’s theme is combating hatred and the global surge of anti-Semitism.”

Perhaps Scaramucci put it best when he wrote, “So on Sept. 24, let us all pray for peace, unity and an end to all anti-Semitism. It’s the American way.” Indeed, that is exactly what happened when many hundreds of thousands came together in unity and solidarity.

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