By Yochanan Gordon
B’lev Ari is a local organization founded by Dr. Robert Block in memory of his late son Ari, z’l. Ari Block was a vivacious young man whose love for Yiddishkeit and learning Torah inspired his peers and people with special needs at Camp Simcha and Ohel Bais Ezra to make continuous forward strides in their limud haTorah and avodas Hashem. Tragically, Ari passed away at the tender age of 24, leaving a wife and a newborn son whose pidyon haben had been scheduled for the day after Reb Ari collapsed at a friend’s vort. As his seventh yahrzeit approaches on May 14, we thought it would be an opportune time to highlight the organization that was founded in this budding talmid chacham’s memory.
B’lev Ari brings together special-needs and developmentally disabled men to learn in a chavrusa setting with specially trained bachurim and volunteers. The program is held monthly at Yeshiva Sh’or Yoshuv, where Ari had learned for a number of years and which was his home away from home. Each program features pizza, soda, and live music as well as additional features such as learning to make tzitzis, a Purim shpiel, and other exciting and educational activities.
Rabbi Morris Block, z’l, Dr. Block’s father and Ari’s grandfather, was the founder of a Brooklyn school for special children, renamed after Rabbi Block’s passing to the Block Institute, that was the only school for children with severe handicaps in 1962 when it first opened. This seems to be in line with the type of chesed that is commonplace in the Block family and the type of program that would continue to bring blessing to the soul of Reb Ari, z’l, who is no doubt smiling in Heaven at the amount of learning that is happening in his name.
This past month’s program was graced by Rav Asher Stern of Congregation Beis Avrohom in Lawrence, who engaged the crowd with a dynamic presentation about the importance of the Jewish people remaining united in light of the period of Sefiras HaOmer and in preparation for the yom tov of Shavuos.
Next month’s program will feature their annual end-of-year barbecue and is scheduled for June 8 at 7:00 p.m. at Yeshiva Sh’or Yoshuv. For sponsorship opportunities, please call Dr. Block at 602-387-0483. v