On Sunday, February 7th, the World of Belz Friends and Benefactors Banquet filled the Starlight Ballroom in the Mr. C Hotel in Beverly Hills with over 100 supporters of Belz’s Torah and chessed projects. Although followers of Belz are few in Los Angeles, the event was well-attended and the room bustled with a diverse crowd. Many guests had close relatives who were Belzer chassidim.
The event was spectacular from start to finish, from the musical performances and guest speakers to the catering by Tierra Sur. From the moment participants stepped out of the elevator, they were greeted with a 360 degree view of Los Angeles. The beautiful, green hills of Los Angeles, the towers of Century City, and the beaches of Santa Monica made an unparalleled sight.
Shloime Daskal began the evening by singing “Shomer Yisroel” to show appreciation of Hashem and as a plea for the safety of our brethren in Israel. The crowd was clearly moved by the soulful performance. Many guests closed their eyes in deep meditation.
Rabbi Shlomo Klein of Congregation Ohr Hachayim read a message of blessings from the Belzer Rebbe, shlita, conveying gratitude as well as reminding the audience of the role of Torah study in protecting Jews in the land of Israel. He explained that the goal of Belz is not to create more Belz Chassidim but to perform kindness to all Jews. Rabbi Klein identified prominent examples of individuals who were products of Belz yeshivos throughout Israel and the world.
Although Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn of Yeshivat Yavneh was unable to attend the evening, he appeared in a digitally broadcast message explaining the importance of supporting the Belz Yeshiva and all that they do in the land of Israel. He provided an in-depth assessment of whether local charities truly do take preference in the mitzvah of tzedakah in communal and private philanthropy, conveying an interesting halachic exposition of all the various opinions. He also offered his own unique twist – because of the rapid pace of global travel and instantaneous opportunities for international charitable support, perhaps there is room to say that even in Los Angeles we are now obligated to serve a global community. Subsequently, Isaac Honig and the Shira Orchestra from NYC performed an entertaining musical interlude.
Rabbi Pinches Friedman, chevrusa of the Belzer Rebbe, shlita, and Rosh Kollel of Belz in Israel, expounded on the “Shvilei Pinches,” a popular weekly written drasha that he authors which is available to the public online. Parshas Terumah, which coincided with the event, contains within it a glimpse at the necessity of both the Torah scholar and the Jew who works to make a living. Much can be achieved when both parties support and love each other. Both have an essential role in this world and both are treasured by Hashem in sanctifying His creation, Rabbi Friedman attested.
At the end of the evening, Chassidic history specialist Rabbi Pini Dunner introduced the “World of Belz” video presentation. The video provided an intimate portrayal of the Belz institutions, both internally and in the form of outreach. The program summoned donors to support thousands of Torah students in an initiative called “My Kollel.” It portrayed what it meant to support Torah study in the 29 Belzer Yeshivot and 50 Kollelim. The video presentation also highlighted the kindness that the Belzer Rebbe and Rebbetzin coordinate on a daily basis – helping needy families, widows, orphans, people who have illnesses, performing outreach for the unaffiliated, and creating schools for those with special educational needs.