Seventy-nine years after Kristallnacht the voice of Torah is waxing in Berlin. Kollel students from the Beis Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood join the Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin to brings a new Torah spirit to the community that has developed there.
Rabbi Yaakov Baum, son-in-law of Rabbi Shalom Kamenetzky, heads the group of yeshiva students from Lakewood. "This is a way for us to show what a Torah home looks like, and to turn this concept into part of the spectrum of the beautiful community here in Berlin," he says.
The kollel operates in the Rabbinical Seminary founded by Rabbi Azriel Hildesheimer zt "l in the center of Skovlo, Berlin, where the Kehilat Adath Israel synagogue and a community kindergarten are located. The head of the Rabbinical Seminary and Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Halpern said that the Beis Midrash for Rabbis was re-established after the Holocaust by the Lauder Foundation and the Central Committee of German Jewry.
About a year ago, hundreds of members of the Torah community, headed by Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Jewry since 1993, and a delegation from the United States, under auspices of the Dean of Beis Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood, Rabbi Aharon Kotler, participated in the ceremony. "Such an exciting spectacle has not been seen on the streets of Berlin since World War II."
The initiator of the kollel is Rabbi Yehoshua Spinner - Vice President and Director of the Lauder Foundation of the Beit Midrash and member of the Standing Committee of the Conference of European Rabbis. "With the support of Ronald Lauder, the Wolfson family, and others, we have built a magnificent Torah community there - unparalleled in Germany," says Rabbi Spinner. "The kollel is indeed funded in part by Beis Medrash Gavoha, but much of the funding came from Jews in Berlin and elsewhere in Europe.
"In order to understand the intensity of the kollel's influence, I'd like to point out that a number of traditional but non-haredi Jews in the city have agreed to contribute for the purpose, but on condition that they can set up regular study times together with the kollel members. Another person made his contribution conditional on one of the yeshiva students giving regular lessons in the synagogue where he prays. We have an evening kollel, and a program called 'Fathers and Sons.' And what was born here in Berlin is simply amazing. But now we're on to the next stage - we have kollel students who strengthen the Beis Medrash and the community, and the constant voice of Torah doesn't stop, day or night," said Rabbi Spinner.
"Everywhere we founded a kollel, the Jewish community has been strengthened and thrived, and its development is amazing. One of the most prominent examples is in one of the remote communities on the outskirts of London - Edgware," says Rabbi Goldschmidt. Rabbi Ehrentroi, Av Beit Din of Europe and member of the Presidium of the conference, recruited ten yeshiva students who would come to study at the kollel and live in the city. The students acceded to requests of families who wanted to hear and know what Judaism is. Today, this community is comprised of about 200 families who have returned to religion and live a life of Torah and mitzvoth.
"If other communities of Torah scholars from Israel or the United States would have joined the battle for the soul of Judaism, we would have revolutionized all the remote communities in Eastern and Western Europe," concludes Rabbi Goldschmidt. "This is how our Teacher and Rabbi the Rosh Yeshiva Hagaon Rabbi Steinman shlita and Maran HaRav Kanievsky shlitataught us - to send rabbis who will set the community on the foundations of the Torah and on the foundations of pure halacha, as only life in Torah and halacha guarantee continuity for generations."