By Chaim Gold
Mesikus haTorah! How does one taste the sweetness of Torah learning? How can parents and educators inculcate in children and teens true enjoyment from learning Torah? How can we transmit the ideal that performing mitzvos is pleasurable and fills one’s life with meaning and joy?
That is the planned theme of Acheinu’s annual kiruv conference scheduled for Tuesday, Rosh Chodesh Nissan/April 1 at the Ramada Hotel in Yerushalayim. The massive conference will mark the 20th anniversary since the establishment of Acheinu by Rav Dovid Hofstedter, nasi of Dirshu, a worldwide Torah movement that has transformed Klal Yisrael.
The conference will be graced with the presence of numerous gedolei Yisrael. During the keynote session, the venerated rosh yeshiva of Slabodka, Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, shlita, will address and field questions on the most knotty, complex topics. Major addresses will also be delivered by the well-known mashpia, Rav Tzvi Meir Zilberberg, shlita, and Rav Dovid Hofstedter, nasi of Dirshu.
At the roundtable session, 26 concurrent discussions are designed to attempt to find solutions to numerous areas of kiruv, with kiruv kerovim playing a prominent role. Each roundtable will be headed by a prominent rav, rosh yeshiva, or mashgiach whose area of expertise is the topic being discussed at that the roundtable. Rav Nechemia Nordheim, a close talmid of Rav Shlomo Wolbe and mashgiach of the Kfar Ganim Yeshiva for ba’alei teshuvah, will lead a session targeted to issues facing the hanhalah of yeshivos for ba’alei teshuvah.
There will also be roundtables devoted to solving issues in the Chassidic community. One will be designed for maggidei shiur in Chassidishe yeshiva ketanos and will be headed by the well-known Belzer Rosh Yeshiva and dayan, Rav Yeshaya Fink.
The main session will be held in the Ramada’s largest ballroom following the roundtables. Mashgichim, roshei yeshiva, maggidei shiur, and kiruv activists from yeshivos that cater to the entire cross-section of the chareidi, ba’al teshuvah, and Masorati-traditional communities will be in attendance. They will have the unique opportunity to hear words of chizuk from Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, shlita. Then, in what will be one of highlights of the event, a lively she’eilos-and-teshuvos (question-and-answer) session will ensue wherein kiruv professionals and mechanchim will be able to pose questions to Rav Hirsch. Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, an American-born talmid of Rav Aharon Kotler, has lived in Eretz Yisrael for nearly 50 years. He is known throughout Eretz Yisrael and beyond for his Torah knowledge, wisdom, and ability to give guidance and counsel on myriad issues. Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman, shlita, often sends people with the most difficult questions to discuss them with Rav Hirsch, whom Rav Shteinman trusts implicitly.
Rav Hirsch will focus on the best ways to inculcate mesikus haTorah, the sweetness of Torah into our youth. “All people involved in chinuch today agree that if a child loves learning, takes pleasure in learning Torah, then 95% of all other difficulties fall away. That is why it is imperative that we better understand how to inculcate this idea in our charges,” said Rabbi Nati Weingarten.
The main session will be addressed by Acheinu’s founder, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, who will give words of guidance along with a personal message in honor of Acheinu’s 20th anniversary. That session will also feature a fascinating video of the addresses and guidance given by gedolei Yisrael at previous Acheinu and Dirshu gatherings.
The kiruv conference will also celebrate 20 years of nonstop activity by Acheinu in their quest to bring thousands of estranged neshamos close to Hashem and to ensure that those that are close stay connected to Hashem.
Hundreds of Acheinu alumni, today bnei Torah who have been mainstreamed and have built exemplary Torah families, will be in attendance. As a token of hakaras ha’tov to Acheinu, these alumni, in conjunction with Acheinu activists, will make a siyum haShas in honor of the milestone anniversary. Rav Dovid Hofstedter often remarks that the greatest nachas is to see Acheinu alumni continue learning in mainstream yeshivos and kollelim and eventually become so attached to Torah that they begin to complete entire masechtos and take Dirshu tests! The siyum on the entire Shas at the conference will show the realization of that dream and the fact that this vision wasn’t a pipe dream, it is something that has been actualized numerous times over the past years.
The keynote speaker at the siyum will be the well-known mashpia, Rav Tzvi Meir Zilberberg, shlita, Rosh Chaburas Nachalas Yaakov. Rav Silberberg often speaks about the exaltedness of every Jewish neshamah, stressing how “no matter how low a Jew has fallen, he possesses within himself the Divine spark to extricate himself from the greatest tumah and rise to the greatest kedushah!” He has followed Acheinu’s progress over the years and will address those involved in the wide-ranging activities of Acheinu, infusing them with chizuk and guidance for the future.
As Rabbi Avigdor Berenstein noted, “Acheinu is a kiruv organization but its purpose is to serve Klal Yisrael in any way possible. The kiruv conference and the way that roshei yeshiva of all kinds of yeshivos have embraced the idea of the kiruv conference, expressing their wish to attend and derive guidance from the experts, is a tribute to Acheinu’s mission as the organization that worries about every one of our brothers—Acheinu!” v