Agudah Convention Highlights 2018 | אגודת ישראל באמריקה

(by Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Gluck)

“If we were to immerse ourselves in everything that Agudas Yisroel stands for, we’d be better people!” This call to action, stated with feeling by Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, Novominsker Rebbe and Rosh Agudas Yisroel, resonated among the packed crowd at Motzoei Shabbos’s keynote session of the Agudah Convention.

Over 35,000 people took part in this year’s Agudah Convention, whether in person or over the livestream broadcast, held this last weekend in Stamford, Connecticut. This year’s convention theme, “Moving Forward,” was the common thread of the convention: Moving forward in Torah learning, moving forward in Avodas Hashem, and moving forward in our relationships with others. But also, moving forward with askanus, moving forward with advocacy, and moving forward in combating the threats to Klal Yisroel.

The Agudah Convention is the place where the Torah world in the United States goes to discuss its challenges, find solutions, and forge a path forward. Indeed, the convention sessions included, among others, such diverse topics as anti-Semitism, connecting with Hashem, the state of mental health in the frum world, audience submitted Q & A for gedolei Yisroel, Chinuch, acting as Bnei Torah in the secular work environment, and exploring difficult family situations.

Convention co-chairman Sruly Bornstein, introducing Thursday night’s keynote speakers, noted that “Moving Forward” means attempting to do what one might otherwise think is impossible. In that vein, Rabbi Shmuel Kamentsky Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshiva Gedola of Philadelphia, explained that the last Siyum HaShas of Daf Yomi sparked many people’s limud haTorah, and even inspired entirely new learning programs such as Daf Hashovua. He also encouraged the assembled to strengthen their Torah learning in preparation for the upcoming 13th Global Siyum HaShas. Consistent with that message, the Agudah presented the Chavrei HaSiyum program, which encourages kehillos and individuals to make their own siyumim in conjunction with the Siyum HaShas.

(More information about the Chavrei HaSiyum program is available at

At the Convention on Sunday morning, Rabbi Kamenetsky’s message was embraced at the Daf Yomi Siyum, with presentations by Rabbi Shlomo Besser, Rav, Congregation Bnei Israel Chaim, Yossi Gleiberman, Daf Yomi Maggid Shiur, and Rabbi Eytan Feiner, Rav, Congregation Keneseth Israel, Far Rockaway.

Echoing Rabbi Kamenetsky’s message, Rabbi Yeruchum Olshin, Rosh HaYeshiva, Beth Medrash Govoha, encouraged everyone attending to move forward by growing in Torah learning: “The only way we can shteig, the only way we can grow, is through Torah!” Rabbi Binyomin Eisenberger, Rav, Khal Heichal Tefillah, added that an individual’s learning sedorim must be a chok for them – not to be interrupted or cancelled for anything. “This is my pikuach nefesh,” he said, meaning that one’s regular learning sessions are what protects his soul. Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, Rav, Agudath Israel of Madison and Rosh Yeshiva, Torah Vodaath, explained that a person’s learning keeps him fresh. Chazal tell us, he said, to learn areas of Torah that we find interesting. But that’s not intended as a kulah: “It’s an obligation, a person has to find a makom shelibo chofeitz, he has to find a place of hischadshus in his learning.”

Motzoei Shabbos brought a crowd, including many who drove in specially for the evening’s keynote session. Rabbi Perlow, reminded everyone that personal growth is something that needs constant and consistent strengthening: “We should learn mussar every day, and look at the ikar of life,” he said. Chinuch, too, was addressed, with Rabbi Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi, Rosh HaYeshiva Ateres Yisroel and Member of the Degel HaTorah Moetzes Gedolei Yisroel, quoting the Avnei Neizer, passionately proclaiming, “The principle of tumah hutrah b’tzibur doesn’t apply in Chinuch!” Speaking of the challenges of learning Torah correctly, and the rewards when one succeeds, Rabbi Uri Deutsch, Rav, Forest Park Shul, Lakewood, told the attendees, “Torah learned correctly provides a person with a physical pleasure.”

To view recordings of this year’s Agudah Convention, please see For more information about the Agudah Convention, please see

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