LINK Kollel Celebrates Its 15th Anniversary with its Most Successful Dinner To Date
The LINK Kollel in Los Angles held its 15th annual dinner on Wednesday, May 24th. A near-capacity crowd of over 400 people packed into the Simcha Hall of Nessah Synagogue in Beverly Hills to mark this milestone. It was by far the most successful dinner in LINK’s history, in all respects.
The Kollel paid tribute to two worthy couples: Mr. Victor and Mrs. Debbie Sacks and Rabbi Gavriel and Mrs. Shira Hershoff. The Sackses, originally from South Africa, are renowned throughout the L.A. community for their warmth, sincerity, and unsung acts of chessed, as well as for their inspiring story of personal growth. Their son-in-law and daughter, Rabbi Aharon and Mrs. Carli Becker, joined the Kollel two years ago after many years in Lakewood. In his remarks, Mr. Sacks beamed with pride at his children’s role in both limud haTorah and in teaching to the community. He confided that he secretly yearned for the day that his children might come back to L.A., and he is so grateful to LINK for providing that opportunity.
Rabbi Hershoff and his wife have been involved for many years in harbatzas haTorah in L.A., through YULA’a Boys and Girls High Schools and thru Aish Tamid. The latter has helped hundreds of young men who have struggled through many personal challenges as they try to get back on the derech of yiddishkeit. His wife has likewise helped many young women in their growth by finding the right seminary to learn at in Eretz Yisrael.
In his remarks, Rabbi Hershoff lauded LINK as a place may of his “success stories” have come to learn in – mainly, LINK’s pioneering YPLA morning learning program for young men. He extolled LINK’s willingness to be open to all people, regardless of background, to come to learn in its vibrant beis midrash.
Rabbi Asher Brander, LINK’s founder and rav, and Rabbi Mordechai Lebhar, the rosh kollel, both emphasized LINK’s phenomenal growth from its humble beginnings in the Westwood area in 2002. Now in the heart of the Pico-Robertson community, LINK attracts a broad spectrum of dozens of Jews every day to its beis midrash for learning and davening (besides its special outreach to college age men – YPLA – and young women – TLC). Whether Ashkenazim or Sefardim, FFB or BT, “Modern” or “Yeshivish,” they all are united by a sincere desire to grow in Torah and to get close to the scholarship and inspiration of LINK’s exceptional avreichim. A special, surprise presentation was made to one of those avreichim, Rabbi Yisrael Thaler, as he and his wife Sarah will shortly depart LINK for Lakewood, New Jersey, after several years of very dedicated service.
The climax of the evening was a very moving talk given by the renowned guest speaker, Rabbi Eli Mansour of Brooklyn. He adjured against taking the special gift of the Torah for granted, citing the inspiring mesirus nefesh of geirim such as Avraham ben Avraham (who burned at the stake in Poland in 1749), Rus, and Yisro.
He also provided listeners with a profound and transformative understanding of the famous Gemara in Maseches Shabbos dealing with Hashem’s answer to the angels who complained that Moshe had no right to take the Torah away from Heaven. He explained that Hashem was telling Moshe that as “children” of Hashem, we are actually closer to Him than the angels (who are merely “neighbors”) and thus we deserved the Torah more than them. Finally he concluded with a powerful parable about how true royalty distinguishes between life and mere money. We, as a nation of royalty, must come to value Torah – which is the very life blood of our existence – more than our money, and thus be willing to extend ourselves to support it.
The diverse crowd – representing donors, community leaders and beis midrash participants – came away enthused and deeply moved as they looked forward to year 16 of LINK’s powerhouse of Torah electrifying the L.A. community.