July 11, 2024
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Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller Draws Large Crowd at Beth Abraham

Bergenfield—Well over 100 women came out on a rainy evening last week to hear a presentation by Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller of Yerushalayim. As a full-time lecturer at Neve Yerushalayim for over 30 years, the sought-after public speaker, author of six inspirational books and many CDs, Rebbetzin Heller has impacted the lives of thousands of women worldwide. Currently she is pioneering her new seminary, Bnos Avigayil, on the Neve campus.

Among those thousands are Teaneck residents Betty Jacobson and Rita-Rivka Lewy. They shared their experiences with Rebbetzin Heller, and explained the inspirational draw and spiritual charisma that Heller infuses into her presentations.

Betty Jacobson has been organizing women’s Torah lectures through the sisterhoods of Beth Abraham and Bnai Yeshurun for the past eleven years. Over the years she has enabled the shuls to host many women Torah scholars in addition to Tziporah Heller including Shira Smiles, Chani Juravel, Tehilla Jaeger, Esther Jungreis and Yehudis Samet. Heller has spoken to the joint program at Beth Abraham close to 20 times over the past 11 years. “Whenever we hear of her travels to the U.S. we are in touch with Rebbetzin Heller to arrange a stop in Teaneck. She always draws a large audience. Often I am privileged to host her at my home and spend quality time with her. She is a brilliant woman, both in matters of Torah and the world. Most of all, she is deeply caring about am Yisrael,” said Jacobson.

Jacobson’s relationship with Rebbetzin Heller began in 1994 when she attended Neve Yerushalayim. Hailing from Texas with limited Judaic background, Jacobson was awed by Heller’s brilliance. She re-acquainted with Rebbetzin Heller over the course of several summers when she returned for more study at Neve. One of her most memorable visits with Heller was on a trip with her family to Har Nof when she was invited to spend a Friday night meal at the Hellers. She and her family were welcomed warmly and seated alongside the rabbi and Rebbetzin. Their questions were answered with thought, practicality and genuine concern. When scheduling Heller for the sisterhoods in Teaneck, Jacobson takes into account that many of our local women were never exposed to Neve-type approaches to Torah and Judaic thought and would greatly appreciate the opportunity. “It was apparent by the diverse audience at the shiur that Rebbetzin Heller’s breadth of Torah and worldly knowledge, engaging stories and parables, spirituality and practicality, and, above all, emunah and love for klal Yisrael, are drawing large numbers of women to hear her presentations whenever she is in our community.”

Rita-Rivka Lewy came to her relationship with Rebbetzin Heller fifteen years ago, as a married mother of three. When her daughter Oriah was spending her gap year in Israel at Neve, she was so overwhelmed with the ambience and learning that she SOS’d her mother to hop on a plane and come over for the experience. And so it was that Lewy spent three of the most inspirational weeks of her spiritual life dorming at Neve and attending classes daily. Among those who inspired her most was Rebbetzin Heller. “She ‘gets’ Hashem, Torah and the world. She is like a spiritual parent filtering Torah as to make sense of our lives and what truly matters,” said Lewy, who credited the rebbetzin with having changed her life. “She addresses the big picture, always coming at it through a unique lens but never shying away from the most profound issues such as ‘Why is the world in existence, where is it heading and what is our role in going forward?’” Whenever Rebbetzin Heller comes to town, Lewy loads up her car with friends and heads to the shiur. “Many of the women whom I have introduced to the rebbetzin have continued learning with her through her online classes, books and CDs. She has become a pivotal spiritual mentor to them.”

At her recent presentation at Beth Abraham, which Jacobson dedicated to the memory of Ezra Schwartz H”yd, beloved son of friends Ruth and Ari Schwartz, Heller offered a pre-Chanukah message intended to inspire as well as offer some comfort in light of the horrific acts of terror we are witnessing in Israel and throughout the world. She explored the Six Days of Creation as representing the six millennia in the history of mankind. We are currently in the 6th era, the era of Rome in which we see the social, moral and financial systems breaking down. Our response to the corruption surrounding us is to affirm that “whatever these forces of evil are, we are not.” She referred to the Creation during which the “Tohu Va’Vohu” (destruction) pre-dated the construction. So it is today. We are witnessing the destruction before the anticipated construction; in Chanukah parlance, re-dedication. “Our role in this era, which seems bleak and desperate, is twofold. First, in our relationship ‘bein adam l’chavero,’ between man and his fellow man, we must be givers and not takers. Secondly, and most importantly, in our relationship ‘bein adam la’Makom,’ between man and Hashem, we must not be stingy. We must extend ourselves to observe the mitzvot on a ‘mehudar,’ lofty level and feel the close presence of Hashem in our daily lives.”

By Pearl Markovitz

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