On Tuesday evening, May 28, a large number of community supporters gathered at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ari and Devorah Hoch to support Shuvu.
Rav Avraham Yaakov Pam zt”l was a vocal supporter of yeshivah education for non-religious Russian immigrants to Israel, and he addressed the issue through the work of Shuvu, the organization he founded in 1990. “It’s not a tz’dakah,” said Rav Pam. “It’s something entirely different.” Rav Pam spoke about it being a force for Hashem. He imparted that Shuvu is the great hope for bringing k’dushah back to Eretz Yisrael through the children.
Shuvu offers a network of kindergartens, elementary schools, and high schools for children of all backgrounds throughout Israel. It has changed the lives of 35,000 students and inspired 100,000 people.
Mr. Hoch welcomed the large crowd. He shared a d’var Torah and then he stated that the koach of reciting “Sh’ma Yisrael” b’rabim can save klal Yisrael. “Tonight, the organization Shuvu can be defined by Sh’ma Yisrael.” He added, “That’s the definition of a Yid.”
We have the ability to make sure that all Jewish children can say “Sh’ma Yisrael.” This must be our focus. He noted that there is a charity campaign going on for Shuvu with people matching donations in Israel. The children themselves who are part of Shuvu are trying to help with this campaign. “We have the opportunity to join the tzibur with this campaign so that these children can become fine, upstanding members of klal Yisrael.
Following this, there was a short video that showed children who are benefiting from Shuvu schools. It was inspiring to see them davening and putting on t’filin. There are now thousands of alumni, and thousands of people’s and families’ lives have been changed. Shuvu has 19 schools in several cities in Israel. They host 19 daily minyanim; 267 Shuvu girls celebrated bas mitzvahs. Thirty alumni continued to yeshivah last year.
Next, Mr. Yossi Hoch shared information about the charity campaign and what Shuvu is accomplishing. He said, “Our deficit is five-to-six million. There are seven high schools with a two-million-dollar deficit. “As we build, these schools will carry themselves.”
He explained that the children who come to Shuvu schools come from secular homes, and 50-60 percent are from the Former Soviet Union. “These kids don’t know what Sh’ma Yisrael is. There are one million kids in secular schools.”
He shared that he takes people on missions to see the Shuvu schools. Seventy percent of the girls become frum and the boys do so at a slightly lower number, but all have a good, solid feeling towards Yiddishkeit. In Netanya, there are 500 students. Rav Reuven Feinstein visited the Shuvu schools. He saw girls learning about Shabbos z’miros and halachos. “There was so much excitement about it; it was like they were discussing their own wedding.” Rav Reuven couldn’t stop talking about how impressed he was with these girls and what they were learning. Mr. Hoch shared, “We teach these children to love Torah and mitzvos. There is no system with this depth and breadth that we have.” Shuvu schools are known for their high-level secular studies. Shuvu was highlighted in a special series on television for its outstanding secular studies and the way it teaches children respect for parents and derech eretz. He added that many kids bring their families into Yiddishkeit. “We see it more and more.” “Shuvu is in the hole right now for 20 million shekel,” he said. “Please make the effort to help with this campaign.”
Following this, Rabbi YY Rubinstein, well-known speaker, shared, “Where would these kids be if it wasn’t for Shuvu?”
He shared a story that taught the lesson that often we don’t focus on the real thing. An event like this helps us see it. We’re on a journey ourselves right now. We are reliving our journey from Egypt to receiving the Torah at Har Sinai. Although along the way on the original journey the Jews complained and there were rebellions, when they reached Har Sinai they understood that every Jew is important. Every Jew is represented by one letter in the Torah; and if one letter is missing, the Torah is pasul. Every Jew counts. Chinuch means to inaugurate or to launch someone on the right path. “The journey of life has ups and downs. Chinuch is the key to help you have more ups than downs.” He stated, “Shuvu provides for 6,000 children to be launched to have a life that is steadily going on the right derech.”
Rabbi Rubinstein concluded: “We all make mistakes; but can we say to Hashem that we understand that we have to reach out to the most vulnerable? This organization takes kids and turns them into mentchen.”
To donate to Shuvu, call 718-692-3434 or visit shuvuUSA.org. You can send checks to 5218 16th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11204.
By Susie Garber