June 22, 2024
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June 22, 2024
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Never Too Old to Be Lifted by the Young

I sat totally mesmerized as I watched the “Kumzitz of the World,” which takes place each year at the Kotel on Tisha B’Av under the leadership of the rebbeim partaking in the NCSY Kollel Summer program. I have to admit that this year I had an ulterior motive in watching it as I was looking to see our grandson, Ari Hagler, amidst the crowd. I did get to see him and found myself throwing kisses each time his face appeared on the screen.

But the kumzitz had an amazing effect on me. I found myself singing as loud as I could, wishing for my voice to blend in with the many others. On each face there appeared great sincerity and passion. Who exactly were the faces? As the cameras scanned the probably thousands of people standing and sitting in circles singing at the top of their lungs, there were chassidim next to men wearing kippah srugot; there were young yeshiva bochurim whose arms were intertwined with young people with long hair (and some with piercings); and older men joining in the circle as well.

Row after row of humanity singing together in harmony, those who knew the words and others who hummed along. Surprisingly, some who one may have thought would not know the words to many of the niggunim, judging by their appearance, sang along with every word. It was a beautiful sight and I cannot imagine that Hashem did not hear every voice in its own powerful way.

It reminded me of our days when we “kumzitzed” at YU Torah Leadership seminars, when we screamed similar words at every shabbaton, perhaps with slightly different tunes. (Thank you, Shlomo.) Every experience was more uplifting than the last, and the more times that we attended a shabbaton or a week-long program, the more intense our passions would become.

I look around today at the leadership of many of the Orthodox communities in the United States and Canada and I proudly remember the days when many who today are taking on these roles were “kids” whose lives changed totally as a result of the activities that they participated in when they were teenagers.

Certainly many parents sending their teenagers to these programs knew little of what to expect, or the impact one little Shabbat can have on a young person’s life. Often we had to counsel families who were enraged at the fact that their teenager wanted to eat kosher food. The idea of having a child who thought that Saturday was no longer the day to shop and wash the car was a difficult adjustment for many. Think about the one or two teenagers who wished to change their entire life despite living in a community where the only other Orthodox family was that of the rabbi. Story after story, year after year—there are probably very few today who do not know someone who went through such an enormous transition.

Our “kids” from Montreal—I am not speaking of our biological children—give us constant pleasure and joy every time we hear a story of where someone is or what they are up to today. Their voices have been heard as loudly as those at the Kotel on Tisha B’Av, and I still feel moved by the beauty of what took place at the Kotel on Tisha B’Av this week.

What a beautiful world we have to look forward to with so many young people who will become the leaders of the world in the future. Kol Hakavod, NCSY.


Nina Glick lives in Bergenfield with her husband, Rabbi Mordechai Glick, after many years of service to the Montreal Jewish community.

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