Rabbi Arye D. Gordon.
It was a long and special week for the Cheder of Los Angeles. The amazing event began on Sunday, 27th of Teves, 5775, at the Cheder on La Brea Avenue. In an unforgettable event for Los Angeles, a new Sefer Torah was dedicated and presented to the Cheder. The Sefer Torah was written l’ilu nishmas Chaya Pessel “Bessie” Weiss, a”h, mother of the Cheder’s Chairman of the Board, Reb Yissachar Dov “Barry” Weiss. The festivities began on Sunday with the participation of the entire Cheder as well as the Rabbonim of the city and the extended family of R’ Moshe and Bessie Weiss. A special area was set aside in the Bais Hamedrash where Rav Moshe Weider, Los Angeles’s famed Mohel and Sofer Stam, assisted in the writing of osios L’shem mitzvas Sefer Torah.
It was under the direction of Rabbi Avrohom Low, with the assistance of a dedicated group of Holocaust survivors, that the Cheder was established in 1988 with some 30 students. In 1993, a girl’s school, Bais Tzivia, was founded and in 1994 the Gan Udel Pre-school was added. The goal of the Cheder has always been to provide a high quality chinuch with a heimishe, old world flavor. Visiting Rabbonim and Rebbes are always amazed and delighted to be able to address the children in Yiddish. With close to 400 students currently enrolled, the Cheder has earned its reputation as a premier educational facility, producing ehrliche talmidim and talmidos under the leadership of Rabbi Simcha Ullman shlita, the Cheder’s Menahel.
A highlight of this simcha was the arrival and participation of the Satmar Rebbe, Reb Zalman Leib Teitelbaum shlita. The Rebbe arrived in Los Angeles on Monday night and was greeted by a welcoming Reception in the home of his hosts, the Weiss family. On Tuesday, the Cheder was privileged to daven shacharis with the Satmar Rebbe shlita, who then addressed the children and guests with heartfelt words of inspiration and bracha.
As darkness descended on the City, the Cheder children lined the street with kindled torches in preparation for the evening’s program. The final preparation of the Sefer Torah was done in a room at the Moshe Weiss building of Yeshiva Rav Isacsohn. The small room was packed wall-to-wall with Rabbonim, members of the Weiss family, parents and community members. Honored guests in attendance included the Nikolsburger Rebbe, the Biala Rebbe, the Skulener Rebbe’ son and the Satmar Rebbe and his gabboim.
The last letters were inked onto the parchment and cries of Mazel Tov and l’chaim could be heard by one and all. The Satmar Rebbe was honored with hagbah, the lifting of the Torah and in a circular motion the open parchment of the Torah scroll was visible to all. The mitzvah of gilelah, rolling up the scroll and encasing it with its new cover were given to Rabbi Dovid Rosenbaum. As the music began, the Satmar Rebbe carried the Sefer Torah out to the street and under the magnificent chuppah the procession to the Cheder was on its way.
The students led the way with their torches, followed by the music truck, the dancing crowds and the chuppah with honored guests. When the crowd reached the Cheder, the talmidim were waiting as the Rebbe danced inside with the dignitaries and the crowd of participants. The dancing continued inside until joyously exhausted, the Torah was placed in the Aron and the ceremony ended with the recitation of tehilim and the maariv service.
May the Cheder, its Menahel, Rabbanim, parents and talmidim continue machaiyil el chayil.