Each year Rabbi Aryeh Goldman, the Head of Student Programs in Yeshivas Yesodei HaTorah, Melbourne, Australia runs an “Ahavas Yisroel Program.” The grade five students engage in activities that facilitate an appreciation and love for themselves, their friends, and others. Students are exposed to inspirational stories about Jews who have a passionate love for the Jewish People and dedicate their lives charitable work. The program culminates with an exciting bike-a-thon event where students ride around a velodrome. They receive sponsorships from family, friends and neighbors, so that each lap brings in donations for their chosen Tzedaka organization.
When Rabbi Goldman's “Ahavas Yisroel Program” was in it's first year, Yad Eliezer's Director of Public Relations, Yossi Kaufman, visited Australia and spoke in Melbourne. The students at Yesodei HaTorah were so inspired by his speech, by the amazing work that Yad Eliezer does, and by how charity is distributed that the boys were inspired to join in on the action.
The first year the boys raised a certain amount of money that they wanted to donate to Yad Eliezer, but were unsure which program to dedicate it to. Yossi Kaufman suggested helping a poor couple who were planning to get married that very week, but still did not have the funds for thewedding celebration. The boys unanimously agreed to dedicate the money to the wedding and therby ensuring that the young couple would have a happy beginning to their married life.
Rabbi Glodman shares, "For me, one of the best highlights from the years of fundraising was one year when we had decided that the money would go to the $1 a day Feed-a-Baby program. I remember a student riding laps around the velodrome for the whole hour. He kept repeating to himself and motivating himself with each lap “Another baby...another baby!”
This year the boys from Yesodei HaTorah raised money to help a Bar Mitzvah boy from a poor family in Israel. Their funding allowed him to receive a new pair of tefillin, new clothing and a modest celebration in honor of his big day, all of which would have been impossible without their dedication, hard work and generosity.
This Ahavas Yisrael Program has been a huge success, teaching these young men what Ahavas Yisrael really means - and finding mitzvah opportunities that bring benefit and growth to themselves and to others!