By Margie Pensak
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect as I disembarked the Baltimore coach bus to enter the Tiferes Rivka Hall in Boro Park, Sunday evening, November 24, for Agra D’Pirka’s Decade Dinner. But, from the minute I walked into the celebration of the flourishing unique national Morning Kollel learning program, I was greeted warmly and made to feel at home. I soon realized, having the experience of covering the Baltimore Agra D’Pirka Yarchei Kallahs for over a year as a journalist, that the warm ambiance of the evening was but a reflection of the program, directors, and participants.
Agra D’Pirka is the brainchild of Ezra Klein, who has made it his mission – LeZecher Nishmas his mother, Pesi Rochel, a”h – to spread morning limud haTorah across the U.S. The fact that approximately 500 people attended the Decade Dinner, including over 100 women, was an amazing testimonial to the success of this mission.
“The women always contribute an amazing amount, but more so to our mosad because they push the men and are ezrai kenegdo for the men and for the Rabbonim,” notes Reb Ezra. “They came and they were collegial; they really felt it together.”
As Malkie Darabaner, wife of Boro Park Agra D’Pirka participant Josh Darabaner, shares, “We would like to give a yashar koach to Agra D’Pirka. The variety and caliber of its maggidei shiur is fantastic and they have a special relationship with the participants. The men have a wonderful, uplifting, inspiring place to attend every day and it gives them something special to look forward to each day.”
That very special kesher between Agra D’Pirka talmid and Rebbe was evident during this special evening, as demonstrated by the fact that the majority of those in attendance included Talmidim and Rabayim from around the country.
“We had a half a dozen Rabbonim from Miami that came and we had busses from Lakewood, Baltimore and Monsey,” mentions Reb Ezra. “The buses bought close to 80 people. We even had car services from Queens for everybody who could not otherwise make it.”
Every branch of Agra D’Pirka was represented by one or two tables depending upon the size of the contingent. The double-dais seating on the men’s side included 55 Rabbonim from the Agra D’Pirka program and beyond. For those who could not personally attend - thanks to the graciousness of Torah Anytime’ s livestreaming of the event - 5500 more people were able to experience the inspirational Decade Dinner program.
HaRav Aharon Kahn, shlit”a, Mara D’asra, Knesses Bais Avigdor, in Flatbush, delivered Divrei Bracha at the Decade Dinner and the renowned maggid, Rabbi Paysach Krohn, was the Guest Speaker. The Guests of Honor included: R’ Moshe Aharon Hoffman, of Agra D’Pirka of Williamsburg; Rabbi Yankel Herskovitz, Daily Maggid Shiur, Agra D’Pirka of Baltimore; R’Meir Nussbaum, of Agra D’Pirka of Lakewood; and R’ Dovid Tanenbaum, of Agra D’Pirka of Queens. In addition, an award was given to the Klein and Finkel families of renowned Mechaber, HaRav Avraham Finkel, z”l. There was also a special video presentation highlighting the current nine Agra D’Pirka branches, and the honorees.
As Agra D’Pirka Administrator and Dinner Committee member Rabbi Chaim Fuhrer remarks, “Ten years ago, we had a dream. We would create a movement that would inspire hundreds and thousands of our brothers to change their lives. We would convince the Jewish world to start their work day with the highest quality learning programs available. With Hashem’s help, our dream has been fulfilled. We handpicked the best maggidei shiur that we could find. We added premier shuls in the best locations. We even added breakfast. The result is Agra D’Pirka.”
“I want to thank everybody who came to the Decade Dinner, especially the Rabbonim from far and wide who joined in this celebration of our 10th anniversary,” says Reb Ezra. “And, onward and upward! We are very excited about starting an Agra D’Pirka program in West Palm Beach, next month, and we already have three of the Rabbonim to do that -- Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Osher Hertzberg and Rabbi Pinchos Jung, among others, iy”H.”
Concludes Baltimore’s Agra D’Pirka Daily Maggid Shiur and Decade Dinner Guest of Honor, Rabbi Yankel Herskovitz, “The event exceeded my expectations. It was very classy; people enjoyed it. It was an honor to represent Baltimore. People realized that the program is not just for the tri-state area, and I believe Mr. Klein was trying to spread that message. Hopefully, everyone got it and realized that Mr. Klein is a real pioneer, taking on a tremendous project which is costing him time, energy, and resources. Much hatzlacha and kudos to him!”