About 100 people attended a lively, “Evening of Chizuk,” discussion at Yeshiva Aharon Yaakov-Ohr Eliyahu day school on March 16th. For this event, the school hosted two gedolay Torah from the East Coast who answered audience questions about a variety of family concerns.
“All you need to do is just introduce them (children) to Torah,” said Rabbi Aharon Feldman of Baltimore. Alongside Rabbi Yisroel Belsky of Brooklyn, the Rabbis came to Los Angeles to raise funds for Israel’s Chinuch Atzmai system of independent religious schools. The evening ended with a heartfelt plea for the attendees to make $36 monthly pledges to support the transportation need for many of these schools’ estimated 30,000 students.
“We have to save everyone and teach everyone, every single village and town,” said Rabbi Belsky. He described the girls in the system’s Bais Yaakovs and the boys in the Cheder, Talmud Torah and Yeshiva Ketana schools as part of, “a battle for survival for yiddishkayt… It’s a battle that has to be won.”
The Israeli government has been making steep cuts in transportation subsidies for thousands of economically challenged families who send their kids to Chinuch Atzmai schools in the more remote regions of Israel that are not served by public transit. The Chinuch Atzmai system had paid bus drivers to collect these children but the Ministry of Education has cut the subsidies this school year, according to The Jewish Press.
The rabbis answered questions that audience members had written on index cards. Rabbi Yoel Bursztyn, menahel at the Bais Yaakov School for Girls, read the questions from the dais. Both rabbis emphasized the power of Torah living and explained how keeping Torah and mitzvahs creates stable families when the world is, Feldman said, “blown by the winds of time. The only thing that’s stable is Torah.” “In our minds, in our communities, there’s no such thing as, `ancient,’ texts,” added Belsky. “The source for everything is in Torah.”
At one point in the evening Bursztyn read a question from a parent trying to deal with a “smart-aleck” child, with Bursztyn then causing a ripple of audience laughter by saying that the anonymous questioner was, “obviously not a Bais Yaakov parent!”
Rabbi Feldman readily sided with teenage children, supporting their need to grow. “The parents usually are not aware of the changes in the child,” he explained. “The fault is with the parents, that they (fail to) recognize that they grew up. Treat them like adults,” he added, “but keep your eye on them.”
Rabbi Feldman answered another question about parenting by saying that while parents are not perfect, it is not good for parents to admit mistakes to their offspring. “A parent has to be somebody who is beyond reproach in a child’s eyes, (someone) that doesn’t make mistakes, “he said. “If it’s at all possible, he has to avoid admitting a mistake.”