Being Mekarev Myself- How Kiruv Helped My Family’s Yidishkeit

Among the inspiring and impactful moments at this year’s Agudah Convention, a unique highlight this year was a panel discussion with Olami rabbanim about their experiences in harbatzas Torah and personal growth.Hosted by Rabbi Avi Cassel, Olami’s North American Regional Director, the panel covered the kind of questions you’ve always wanted to ask: Aren’t you scared to expose your kids? Where do you draw the line? What do you think is the future of kiruv moving forward from 2021?

The panelists, each a talmid chochom and accomplished marbitz Torah in their own right, gave the audience an inside perspective as to how dedicating their days to spreading the light of Torah has strengthened their own Yiddishkeit, as well as that of their children, in many aspects.

The panelists were:

Rabbi Benzion Klatzko, who moved to Los Angeles to get involved in outreach at UCLA, after leading a kehillah in Boro Park for a decade. A sought after speaker, Rabbi Klatzko travels around lecturing and has pioneered many different outreach programs the most famous being Shabbat.com.

Rabbi Aaron Gruman is the director of Torah Links and Rabbi of Congregation Toras Emes in East Windsor, New Jersey.

Rabbi Shmuel Lynn served as the Executive Director of Meor at the University of Pennsylvania  for 12 years and is the founder of Meor Manhattan’s JEC (Jewish Enrichment Center).

The audience came away with a renewed appreciation of the chashivus of being marbitz Torah further afield, and how it actually is an exceptionally powerful way to keep oneself and one’s family shtark in their own Yiddishkeit. Rabbi Gruman pointed out that Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky Shlit”a himself was sent by R’ Aharon Kotler to Philadelphia, which was then almost void of any Yiddishkeit. His children went to the local day school, where of course they were exposed to all sorts of influences.

“But aderaba,” Rabbi Shmuel Lynn expounds. “The influences are everywhere anyway. Better for your kids to grow up in a home where they see their parents navigating these things, where they build muscle and resistance bit by bit throughout their upbringing.”

With their insider’s view, the panelists made it clear how fighting the milchemes Hashem outside of the holy walls of the Beis Medrash enriches one’s own shemiras hamitzvos and helps children develop a true geshmack in Torah and mitzvos; it is a wonderful opportunity for ben Torah who wants to spend his days fully involved in Torah.

As Rabbi Benzion Klatzko put it: “I believe there is something about bringing kids up where they have to fight the milchemes Hashem that actually sharpens their tools and gives them tremendous focus…”

All the panelists agreed that spreading Torah in this way requires living ‘bein gavra l’gavra’ – continuously going back to the source to clarify and broaden one’s Torah knowledge in order to share it with others. Dedicating one’s life to being marbitz Torah to those who haven’t encountered true Torah before compels you to “grow in your limud Torah and as a talmid chacham in a very deep and profound way” says Rabbi Cassel.

Although it may be in settings far from yeshiva benches, the breadth of the type of questions and conversations that one encounters necessitates one to be shteiging and learning constantly. So, the Gemara is never really closed at all; making this an ideal alternate avenue for a ben Torah looking for a meaningful career in klei kodesh.

You can hear it all firsthand by watching the panel here.

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