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Can One Person Really Make a Difference? Yes! Just Read On...
Closing the GapIn the course of the last several years he has built a Kehillah, or community, of well over 400 Russian families in Brooklyn, NY. “I realized that , even in those cases where Russians are sending their kids to Yeshivos, the parents were not being positively impacted. There was a clear generation gap. It became clear to me that the way to bring these Jews back to Judaism is to work with the entire family.” Rabbi Reich sensed in these parents the feeling that they could never reclaim their Jewish heritage. He decided that his own family would be extended to encompass his new Russian friends.
We’re Responsible for Each Other
A Spiritual Reawakening
Nourishing Soul and BodyAfter services, there is a sumptuous kiddush. There are five classes during the course of the day, ranging in subject matter from Alef Bais to Talmud, simultaneously translated in Russian. Holidays are even more exciting. Chanukah brings well over 200 people to shul, and everyone is given a Menorah, candles, chanuka gelt, and food: there are songs and stories. On Pesach, the Reich family Seder is also the Kehilla's Seder attracting hundreds of participants.
A Home Away from Home
Back to Basics
Handle with CareRabbi Reich views the souls of he work with as deprived of their basic spiritual needs. He has come to understand that, if they are overwhelmed with too much nourishment-Yiddishkeit - they will be harmed, not helped. And so he treats everyone on an individual basis, seeking a level of mitzvah observance which will nourish them properly.
Revamping the SystemWhat does the future hold for Russian Jews in the U.S.? Rabbi Reich's solution is to teach others to implement his method to bringing our Russian brethren close to G-d. He sees the need for many other kehillos in New York and the entire country. He even has an idea for bringing the kehilla system back to the Jewish community at large.
But Menachem Zion was just the beginning...The current wave of Russian immigration, dating back to early 1970's, differs greatly from its predecessor. From 1881 to 1911, 1.3 million Jews sailed past the Statue of Liberty into New York Harbor. They came to escape the pogroms and to find the gold that paved the streets of America. These new arrivals were mostly Orthodox. The plight is not much different from their predecessors. They come with little, as their rubles have no value, and they seek refuge from blatant anti-Semitism to make a better life. But where their forerunners were well aware of their religion, today's immigrants come with the baggage of communist indoctrination.
Some of the Problems they Face:
- Lack of proper job training and ignorance of the English language
- The cost of Kosher food
- Tuition for Yeshiva and Girls schools
Enter Rabbi Avrohom Reich:A synthesis of the Chassidic and Yeshiva world, he has won the cooperation of the kiruv movement, local yeshivos of all affiliations, and of local businesses and charitable organizations.
Rabbi Reich's uniqueness, however, does not lie in these things. It lies in his approach to, and faith in, the pintele yid. Loosely translated by Rabbi Reich, There is a spark in every Jew that wants a connection with G-d. If you can connect with that seed of belief that exists in everyone. You can bring that person to the actualization of his spiritual potential.
Rabbi Reich has figured out that what these Jews have been missing for the past seventy years in the Jewish family. His shul is meant to be the family, and he is their tireless father. Even the elderly congragants perceive him as a fatherly presence. A family provides physical comfort and emotional and spiritual guidance, as does the Kehillah. The aim of their Kehillah is to be, in America, what was missing in Russia. It aims to recreate an atmosphere of total nurturing and make each member feel loved and feel that he or she belongs to that great family, the family of Israel.
This was the concept behind Kehillas Menachem Zion-Yotzei Russia, to create an umbrella for spiritual and material services.
Menachem Zion was not satisfied with its own little Kehilla. So much was left to be done- so many lost and wandering souls - Jews who wanted to be Jews, but didn't know how... So the Kehilla's outreach movement developed into a vital organization - HATZOLAS YISROEL.
- Educating Jewish immigrants about missionary tactics
- Social services
- Job placement
- Distribution of religious articles Tefillin, Mezuzos, Tzitzis, Etc.
- Help in preparing kosher kitchen
- Bris Milah - Bar mitzvas - Weddings
- Individual tutoring on religious and secular subjects
- Community - wide lectures
- Kosher meat stores at discounted prices for low income families
- Educating children and their Parents
- Passover Sedorim conducted on a large scale for many hundreds of families
- Mainstreaming Russian children into regular Yeshivos & Bais Yaakovs