In some schools the education begins and ends in the classroom. Other schools add extracurricular, educational and social activities. But Be’er Hagolah demonstrated with its Israel mission that once you’re a student, you are in the BHI family for life. That is how Rabbi Tully Bryks, the Director of Admissions of Ohr Somayach described his impression after hosting the BHI alumni mission to Israel.
Heavily subsidized by Olami International and Ohr Somayach, the BHI alumni mission to Israel brought together 19 young alumni for two weeks of jam-packed days filled with incredible activities, inspiring and uplifting Torah study, and new relationships that will last a lifetime.
The days began with davening, breakfast and Torah classes from the likes of Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz, Rabbi Yitzchak Greenblatt, Rabbi Dovid Kaplan, Rabbi Guy Matalon, and Rabbi Tully Bryks. These rabbis brought the Torah alive, explained many fundamental concepts and fanned the spark of Torah in the hearts of the young men, a number of whom are considering a year of full time Torah study in Yeshiva in Israel.
In the afternoons, the boys had the opportunity to experience the width and breadth of the Holy Land. The first Shabbos was spent in Yerushalayim with the participation of the Dean, Rabbi Mordechai German and Rabbi Michoel Grunhut, a BHI high school rebbi. A special highlite was davening Friday night at the Kosel with thousands of Jews in unison.
Rabbi Mordechai Fishman, the Be’er Hagolah boys’ division principal, reported that one of the highlights was Friday through Sunday in Tzefat. Seeing the kevarim of the tanaim brought the Torah learning alive. The tour of the old city of Tzefas gave the boys a sense of our history. The visits to the nearby Meron and Amukah brought out the spark of connection with Hashem through the powerful tefilos. The Kabalat Shabbat on a porch with the sun setting in the background made the radiance of Shabbos envelope everyone as they got swept up in song. After davening, they walked the streets of Tzefas and sang and danced with random Jews in the street. They ate the seudot Shabbat in an ancient room with an arched ceiling. The echoing of the tones of the zemirot Shabbat only added to the energy and feelings of Shabbos kodesh. They also saw the Abuhav and Arizals Shul, as well as the famous kivrei tzadikim and Arizals mikveh.
Rabbi Bryks noted that these trips offer students a chance to connect with their soul. They ask deep questions as they grow in their connection to Hashem and find their place in Yiddishkeit. “This group was different from the typical group”, said Rabbi Bryks. T”he Be’er Hagolah students already received a background in Yiddishkeit and Torah study at BHI, and they also came as a cohesive group. This allowed us to skip the first few “icebreaker” days we usually see in these missions. You can see their affinity to their rabbeim, and the strong mutual bond. They all wanted pictures with their Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi German and they were all so proud for him to see their spiritual growth. Rabbi Fishman was there for them day and night. He served every role from educator to organizer and everything else in between. Yiddishkeit encompasses the spiritual, emotional and physical and you were able to see the support and ahavas Yisroel from all the BHI staff members. It was inspiring for us”.
The boys also went ATVing, visited the Institute of Technology for Shmirat Shabbat, toured the City of David, enjoyed eating out, and went shopping for souvenirs in Geulah.
Most importantly, they charged themselves with spiritual energy and deepened their connection with Hashem and His holy Torah and Land.