Rosh Chodesh Elul in Beit Bnei Rachel: The Blessings Came to MeBy Evelyn Haies, President Rachel’s Children Reclamation Foundation (1995-2011) and Beit Bnei Rachel
I t used to be every Tuesday that the bus from Efrat came to Kever Rachel and we learned in Beit Bnei Rachel, the RCRF majority owned property just a few feet past Kever Rachel in the Rachel Tomb Walled Complex, but now it is only on each Rosh Chodesh that the Efrat group learns in the memory of my dear friend Sara Blaustein HYD
It was this Tuesday Rosh Chodesh Elul that the shiur was given by Sara Jo Ben-Zvi .It was a talk on Nechemia and problems within the walls. This month’s trip was sponsored by Bryna and Chaim Astor on the occasion of their 24th wedding anniversary. Mazal Tov!
I set the room up for the evening event with HaRav Benjamin Levene. I left and returned to finish setting up before the final Summer Learning Session that included Rabbi Chaim Wasserman, Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz, Rabbi Yosef Klausner, Rabbi Efraim Sprecher to find my belongings misplaced and that another sink that was there in the morning was removed without permission of the Bnei Rachel Corp of which I am founder and president being the sole funding purchaser of the first building.. I was then told it was taken back after 8 years from the gifter by a phone call with the worker and the Rosh Yeshiva who moved into the building uninvited and remains without a lease and doing construction without permission. I checked the basement and found it there. Some wonderful men about to daven in Rachel’s Tomb helped bring it up and put it back.. There was a verbal battle and the sink was re-installed. However, the worker was still there working without permission when the evening groups left.
HaRav Benyamin Levene spoke on “Rachel Imeinu and the Rosh Hoshana Prophecy.” The talk on stories of his grandfather and the tzaddakim of his day relayed a very important message. Tzaddakim are simple and one should always respect and care for one’s fellow man. Ima Rachel cries, sacrifices, has empathy and emunah. Her midos carry her children above the decadence, deceptions and will bring us up from the falls. I recalled that I read Tehillim 24 on my first visit to Kever Rachel after the purchase and I understood it was because of the purchase that David HaMelech conquered Yerusahlayim. Re -reading Tehillim #24 I saw that it was emphasized that there is no possession without truth, honesty, righteousness and good deeds. Possession is a function of merit.
Last and very significant was a visit by HaRav Moshe Wolfson, shlita for a tish. About 200 followers of this great rabbi enjoyed a talk in Yiddish. Yerushalmi kugel, rugelah and other refreshments were served . The women and children were behind the mechitza made by Rabbi Moshe Levi for my .yeshiva Bnei Rachel several years ago. The men ended by praying tehillim and singing shmiros. .I was blessed that all my work for Rachel Imeinu and Beit Bnei Rachel should be with emunah, advancement, rewards and free from conflict. I had been told to get a blessing because of the misdeeds from which I and the American companies were suffering by those who called me a “good ange” and admitted they “conned” me and the American companies. They made no monetary investment and called me a donor for their benefit and not owner as was written in the contract and validated by the money trail..
The wonderful beginning and the ending of ELUL in Beit Bnei Rachel were blemished by those working without rights against the owners and developers. It was such a joy to continue to remember lovely, vibrant, generous, giving, loving Sara Blaustein HYD (murdered on the way) with the women of Efrat. Would that she were still here. It was such a joy to be with HaRav Benjamin Levene again whose roots are deep with Jerusalem history and the stories of his grandfather’s visits to Kever Rachel before it was occupied by the Jordanians and after it was reclaimed in 1967, He expressed the ups and downs of Elul and blessed that I overcome the challenges and continue this holy work for Rachel Imeinu. He was present when I donated a Sefer Torah in 1998 on the wide open streets in front of Rachel’s Tomb that got Kever Rachel open 24 hours and inspired so many visitors and saved the Egged Bus #163. I presented him with a painting by Malky Grunwald who displayed that unity and derech eretz are what bring the Guela. This painting is on display in the Rachel’s Children Reclamation Foundation Museum of Jewish Aliyah © that just hosted a Biblical Art Exhibit by Ellen Lapidus Stern. Malky Grunwald, my granddaughter had the first Bas Mitzvah at Beit Bnei Rachel. It suffered having been the first, but just this August at age sixteen her mess up was rectified. She was on the NCSY JOLT program visiting the camps her family survived . She is third generation Holocaust Survivior. Four years later she was celebrating her birthday in Beit Bnei Rachel with her contemporaries in rectification of a Bas Mitzvah that was blemished by complications but still most memorable and the inaugurator of so many more simchas in our beautiful Reception Center.. This birthday was so joyous because it was shared and a surprise. It was also a statement for Jewish steadfastness and survival in the merit of Ima Rachel’s tears.
HaRav Moshe Wolfson shlita of Borough Park, Brooklyn spoke of the positives of Elul and our necessity to keep on the derech. Truth, responsibility, good deeds are some of the ingredients that will bring rectification.and redemption. I sincerely thank those for thanking me. Let us thank Hashem for all our successes. Rachel’s Children Reclamation Foundation is a foundation I formed to save Kever Rachel and to present Ima Rachel as the Jewish Mother par excellence who will show us how to return to our Torah and holy land borders, by learning, sharing and caring. We can reclaim our inheritance by acting according to Hashem’s Pathways of Torah. This is the time we a warned of the curses from going off the derech and advised of the blessings of being righteous.. Let us know only goodness and enjoy the Redemption this Rosh Hoshana as we read the Haftorah of Yirmiahu promising Rachel Imeinu that her children will return to their borders.