Hacham Baruch Kollel Celebrates
its 10th Year Anniversary

On 24 Iyar, 5765 (June 2, 2005), our community mourned the loss of our revered rabbi and leader, Hacham Baruch Ben Haim, a”h.
For over 55 years, Hacham Baruch guided our community towards the prominent status it holds today. To honor the memory of our great Rabbi, the Hacham Baruch Kollel was launched by the Rabbi’s children one year following his passing. Founded in May, 2006, the project commenced with a student body of ten young men, and headed by Hacham Yaacov Ben Haim.

Student admittance to the Kollel isn’t easy, as the administration is highly selective on who is granted entry. A criteria of fine character and good midotare of paramount importance
for admittance.

Located in ‘the Annex’ (of Cong. Shaare Zion), members of the Kollel undergo a rigorous schedule of Torah and halacha study, and are tested regularly on the material. However, their focus isn’t merely on the advanced level of halacha, but in fact on both teaching and leadership skills, which are likewise stressed. With the help of the Rosh Kollel, Rabbi Yehuda Eliyahu, the men progress to receive theirsemicha (rabbinical ordination), while being trained to become teachers and rabbis in
the community.

And with ten year of history behind them, the Hacham Baruch Kollel has got quite a lot to boast.

Today, the student body has more than doubled in size, with many current members and alumnus having assumed roles as rabbis and educators, giving back to their community by teaching in our schools and synagogues. When asked to what he attributes the success of the Kollel, Hacham Yaacov Ben-Haim says it is undoubtedly the zechut of his father, a”h, to whom the success can be credited.

“Mona meets Morris…
In a rather strange way”

January was a big month for Renewal. Kidney transplants were done in NY, Cleveland, and Toronto. Renewal has shown that where there is a need… they will go.

One of the highlights of the month took place on January 19th, 2016 when for the first time in our community we had a match of a donor and recipient who didn’t know each other before the transplant. We have had several transplants where community members have received or donated to others outside the community or to members of their own family (over 50 so far) but this is the first altruistic kidney transplant within the community.

Morris Gindi had the desire to donate a kidney for a long time, as he watched fellow community members become donors. He wanted the chance to save a life. That day came when Renewal matched Morris to Mona Massry. Mona had been suffering from kidney disease for a few years and was subject to living a life of dialysis. B”H, with her new kidney she will be able to live a normal life again.

The act of courage that Morris undertook should serve as an example to others in the community, showing that they too can be life savers. For more information on kidney donations please contact community Advocate A.J. Gindi at Ajgindi@renewal.org.

Inspirational Ahi Ezer Yeshiva 8th Grade Shabbaton

Our thoughtful teachers organized an amazing Shabbaton for their spirited 8thgrade girls. Friday morning the buses headed out to BounceU, which was a great fun-filled start to an incredible weekend. From there they traveled to the Airmont Mansion where they settled in to their beautiful and plush accommodations in upstate NY. The students and teachers decorated and created their own T-shirts to keep as a memorable souvenir of the girls’ graduating year at Ahi Ezer Yeshiva.

Soon after, it was time for the girls to prepare for Shabbat. Each girl got a chance to light her own candlesand recite a beautiful bracha. The girls felt so special and close to Hashemas they covered their faces during candle lighting. Next came gorgeous singing, headed by the Ahi Ezer choir girls. After completing a delectable Shabbat dinner prepared by our own special chef, the girls were treated to an inspirational speaker, Ms. Suri Cohen. She spoke to the girls intimately about the parashaand its invaluable lessons. Her talk was followed by an onegand a panel discussion where the girls participated in a question/answer session with their teachers.

Shabbat morning was a beautiful sunny day, and the girls hurried to get dressed for shul in their best clothes. Each girl looked like a true bat Yisraeland prayed with so much kavanah. Everyone enjoyed a special seudat Shabbat. The teachers then escorted the students on a walk to visit with a very inspiring woman, Breindy, who is physically handicapped. Breindy took the girls to new heights with her words of wisdom.

The girls headed back for seudat shlishit and havdallah. Next was another fun-filled activity at the local bowling alley. The ride home was a perfect ending to a great time: singing and rejoicing about the most inspiring, life changing Shabbat they had ever experienced, and will never forget.

Community Members
Put New Focus on Aliyah

Aliyah.Recently, the idea has gained traction in our community. Whether it’s ideologically, financially, or religiously motivated, it’s becoming popular as people see Israel as a more viable option. As this grassroots movement continues growing, community members have begun organizing. By getting together to discuss ideas and concerns, we aim to translate ideas into action. With the support of peers, more people may feel encouraged to explore aliyah.

On December 27th, such an event was held at the home of Michael and Sarah Hidary. Over 30 community members gathered for remarks given by renowned Israeli Radio show host and international spokesman for the Jewish community in Hevron Yishai Fleisher and NBN (Nefesh B’Nefesh) Employment Director Rachel Berger. The event provided a forum for people to discuss potential issues they face when considering moving.

The attendees included young professionals, young families, and grandparents with children already in Israel. Many observed that community members who’ve already made aliyahdid not do so as a cohesive group. It was posited that moving in large enough numbers to the same place could help alleviate challenges people face when leaving a community with such a strong senseof identity.

People’s motivations for considering aliyahwere multi-faceted. Many cited economic opportunity and lifestyle changes within a vibrant Jewish environment. Whereas one might worry over retaining Jewish identity and finding quality education in other cities, a family move to Israel would not present these challenges.

Rachel from NBN spoke about resources available to find jobs in Israel. Yishai then gave his perspective as a person who has lived there for most of his life. “For the Syrian community, which places a tremendous value on close family bonds, the real challenge of aliyahis the distance that it creates…. However, those people who choose to make aliyahwill be creating that family closeness for the next generation in the Jewish homeland, and sparing their children from having to contemplate that decision twenty years down the line. One generation has to break out in order to build a tight knit community in Israel.”

So, what’s next? By organizing, can we encourage more community members considering aliyahto make that leap? Could coordination be the answer to the challenge of expanding beyond our strong, supportive community? We will continue planning more events to raise awareness. For those not prepared to make a permanent move, we will also host events about the importance of spending time and investing more in Israel. To get involved and share your thoughts, please email Morris Cohen: mdc334@gmail.com.

SAFE Visits Magen David Yeshiva

Like a slow-starting car in the winter, the 8th grade boys at Magen David Yeshivah were quiet at first, but by the end of the hour spent with The SAFE Foundation’s therapists, Sean Kensing, CASAC-G (Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor – Gambling), and Laura Mizrahi, LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Counselor), the discussion was revving right along.

The purpose of their visit on that morning in early December was to open a conversation about the warning signs of compulsive behaviors and to inform the students about how to reach out for confidential help.

Some of the kids wanted to know if spending too much
time on the internet and buying lotto tickets are forms of compulsive behaviors.

The therapists addressed all questions. They especially highlighted in each of their replies that the signs of compulsive behavior are when a person is preoccupied with something and is unable to stop the behavior, even though he or she is experiencing negative consequences.

Mr. Kensing and Mrs. Mizrahi advised, “The worst thing a person can do if having some of these symptoms is to retreat into a shell of secrecy. The best thing one can do is share the problem with someone trustworthy.

“It is never too early to get help with a problem or to simply ask a question” they told the students. The therapistscontinued, “When it comes to compulsive behaviors, waiting too long may be very detrimental. When a person with a problem progresses, they’ll be feeling a powerful loss of control and may be sensing that they don’t even have a choice when it comes to being free from these behaviors.”

Mr. Kensing explained that when someone calls SAFE with a problem, he or she is met with support, rather than with shame. A caller in distress will be told, “So sorry to hear that you are experiencing that. Let’s see what we can do for you.”

SAFE’s Director of School Programs Yehudah Alcabes, LMSW (Licensed Master Social Worker), CASAC, said that he found the exchange between the therapists and the students to be very valuable. He said, “It opened their minds to thinking about and dealing with problems and about recognizing the signs of trouble before it is too late. It is just part of what we are doing at SAFE to raise awareness and prevent problems.”

If you or someone you know needs help, please call our confidential, toll-free hotline, 24/7 at
1-866-569-SAFE (1-866- 569-7233). Have a question? E-mail: