By Brenda Goldstein
Rabbi Asher Brander sounded exuberant at the podium of Nessah Synagogue in Beverly Hills, where LINK kollel and shul held its 12th Annual Banquet of Tribute on May 20. Since its inception 12 years ago, LINK has offered the Los Angeles Jewish community an exciting atmosphere to learn the word of Hashem. Rabbi Brander described how the avreichim at LINK begin their day as the sun comes up and eagerly learn Torah until the day draws to a close after a late-night davening of Ma’ariv.
After coming to the first LINK Shabbos in Pico/Robertson, when Rabbis Brander and Eli Stern moved the kollel from Westwood nearly three years ago, Community Leadership Award recipients Daniel and Leah Hill continue to call LINK their home shul. Daniel Hill created new classes in Gemara and Tefilla for the many eager students of Torah, and has taken a significant leadership role in LINK’s infrastructure. “LINK has had the wisdom to set a goal,” said Hill, “and it is very clear and focused about achieving it. Simply put, the goal is to be marbitz Torah.”
After a moving video presentation illustrating how the Hills have enriched LINK, Hill delivered an equally moving acceptance speech with his wife at his side, noting that without her, he would be “homeless.”
Allan Shoff was then presented the Lifetime Achievement Award which was given to him by his son and LINK East Rabbi Elchanan Shoff. Allan Shoff accepted on behalf of himself and his wife, Karen, who could not attend the event. Rabbi Shoff spoke about his parents who have dedicated their lives to the Los Angeles Jewish community, turned their home into a venue for Torah learning and kiruv, and hosted hundreds of families for Shabbos meals.
Rabbi Jeff Wohlgelernter of congregation Adat Yeshurun in La Jolla then delivered an inspiring drash, underlining LINK’s dedication to teaching Torah. In illustrating his point, Rabbi Wohlgelernter spoke of an older gentleman acquaintance who, as a young man, went to learn in Yeshiva without having any prior Torah learning. When the Rosh Yeshiva told the man he couldn’t learn there due to his ignorance, the man broke out in sobs and cried, “I just want to learn Torah!” The Rosh Yeshiva let him stay and LINK carries this tradition today; the rabbis at LINK will turn no one away due to lack of Torah knowledge.
David Sacks served as the evening’s master of ceremonies, and Shmueli Schwartz provided quality musical entertainment during dinner. The inspiring evening ended with a raffle drawing, which included Disneyland passes and dinner at Herzog Winery’s Tierra Sur restaurant.
Currently, LINK Kollel and Shul offers over 50 weekly classes, in addition to its inspiring speakers and Shabbatonim. LINK recently opened LINK East, on Pico and Crescent Heights, to serve the burgeoning Orthodox community east of La Cienega Blvd.