By Shimmy Blum
Four days. A lifechanging experience and a whole new perspective on Orthodox Jewish life.
Over fifty Jewish college students from across the United States and Canada were in Lakewood from Thursday through Sunday as part of Yeshiva Ohr Somayach’s thirteenth annual “Mentors Mission” Lakewood Shabbaton.
Upon arriving to Lakewood, the students were welcomed by their hosts, respected Lakewood baalebaatim who graciously opened the doors of their home – and even more, their hearts. Thursday evening, the group made its way to the home of Mr. Dovid Tzvi Herzka for a welcoming ceremony. Prominent personal injury attorney Harry Rothenberg – a Harvard graduate – shared some of his experiences, highlighting how an Orthodox lifestyle and professional success work in perfect harmony.
A similar message was derived over breakfast on Friday morning at the headquarters of Madison Commercial Real Estate Services, a real estate industry behemoth founded and headquartered in Lakewood. An open Q&A session with senior Ohr Somayach lecturer Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb followed, before the students headed towards the headquarters of Lakewood Hatzolah. Hatzolah administrator Motti Twerski spoke of the unbelievable sophistication of Hatzolah and the selflessness of its volunteers, making it the envy of New Jersey’s EMS world. Deputy Mayor Menashe Miller, who also serves an US Air Force chaplain, spoke as well, sharing intriguing vignettes about Lakewood and his career.
Shabbos was welcomed by a lively Carlebach minyan, with divrei Torah from Rabbi Nota Schiller shlit”a, Rosh Yeshiva Ohr Somayach – Yerushalayim and Rabbi Gottlieb. After the seudos at their respective hosts, the group gathered at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Ari Krug for a lavish Oneg Shabbos.
Shabbos day was once again filled with davening and learning – at Kollel Bnei Torah in the morning and Khal Ateres Yeshaya in the afternoon and evening. During Seuda Shlishis, Rabbi Schiller delivered a deep discourse on Yiddishkeit and life to both the mission and Khal Ateres Yeshaya. This was followed by address by the Mara D’Asra, Rabbi Simcha Bunim Cohen shlit”a, to a packed Bais Medrash, elaborating upon the students’ great fortune in coming to Lakewood.
On Motzei Shabbos, a beautiful Melave Malka was held at Kollel Ner Avrohom, led by philanthropist and former pharmaceutical executive Dr. Kasriel (Richard) Roberts, who shared vignettes of his life story and answered audience questions. A kumzitz with Eitan Katz followed, with lively dancing for hours.
On Sunday, the group toured the Lakewood Cheder – Lakewood’s largest mosad hachinuch – and heard from prominent frum CEOs, Ralph Zucker, Ira Zlotowitz and Ben Kurland. They also toured Bais Medrash Govoha, where they learned with chavrusos and met the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Yeruchem Olshin shlit”a. Before heading back to their points of origin, the boys gathered at the home of prominent Lakewood attorney Shmuel Zev (Sam) Brown for a farewell banquet, which was addressed by noted author and lecturer Dr. David Lieberman. The students and mentors – many of whom have only known each other for days – schmoozed and embraced like longtime friends.
Most poignant was when several students got up to speak, sharing in their own words the impact the mission made upon them. They were all more drawn to Torah and Yiddishkeit, and eager to go learn in Yeshiva. One student said that this weekend made a greater impact upon him than any of his previous interactions with the frum and kiruv worlds. Another shared that over Shabbos, he undertook to wear Tefillin each day. His host, Mr. Akiva Gonter, purchased him a pair on Motzei Shabbos. “You don’t know how lifechanging this commitment is for me,” he said.
Mentors Mission Brief Report
For more information about upcoming Mentors Missions, including the upcoming mission to Eretz Yisroel, please contact Ohr Somayach at firstname.lastname@example.org.