The mitzvah of kiruv r’chokim, outreach to the unaffiliated, offers the rewards of this world and the next, as noted in the Zohar relating to Parshas T’rumah. This past Wednesday, the renowned Israeli organization P’eylim Lev L’Achim had its Queens fundraiser at the home of Elie and Golda Fried, with Rabbi Aharon Walkin as the speaker.
Under the guidance of Israel’s leading poskim, this organization engages with secular Israelis, assisting parents in transferring their children from public school to yeshivos, and for older people programs, such as chavrusa, kollel, counter-missionary task force, and mentorships. “It’s outreach through 12 divisions for different segments of society,” said Rabbi Yosef Karmel, Director of P’eylim Lev L’Achim New York Office. “From the knock on the door to the classroom, there is somebody taking them to school, and making sure that they do their homework. We work with the parents.”
Rabbi Walkin can relate to such work from his many years as a lecturer for Chazaq, the Queens-based outreach organization whose slogan is “Building a Better Future.” Among its numerous programs, the one with the greatest sense of urgency in its mission is “PSTY- Public School to Yeshivah,” a determined effort to encourage public school families to make the transfer to a yeshivah, with the goal of combating assimilation and strengthening Jewish observance.
For Chazaq students who seek to learn Torah and halachah full-time, Chazaq runs Yeshiva Gedolah Beis Nosson Meir of Queens, with Rabbi Walkin as its Rosh Kollel. “I once encountered a father who was upset with me that his child was now religious, that I had ‘taken him’ away.” He noted that individuals engaged in kiruv are safeguarding the future of their families. “You give me my children and I’ll give you your children.”
Concerning the upset father, Rabbi Walkin said that the child has another father, the Father in Heaven. “He wants back his children.”
The promotional video shared by Rabbi Karmel introduced examples from Israel, with person-to-person contact that sparks conversations, transforming lives, and impacting the direction of Israeli society. “On any given day, there are 20,000 people in contact with P’eylim Lev L’Achim. We have 1,100 people on our payroll and 4,000 volunteers. We have kollel people, b’nei Torah who bring koach to the movement.”
At the Kosel, the holiest place of prayer for Jews, countless visitors put on the paper kipot. “Last year, 17,000 people received a tap on their shoulder from us, and 8,500 went on to attend an organized Torah class.”
By Sergey Kadinsky