500 people participated in the impressive “Chag Ha’Semicha” event which took place last week in Oholei Torah’s hall in Crown Heights. Certificates were given out to 270 students who successfully completed the curriculum on 8 tracks.
Photos: Yossi Jerufi, Dovber Hechtman
About 500 people participated in the impressive “Chag Ha’Semicha” event which took place last Wednesday, 5 Tishrei, in Oholei Torah’s hall in Crown Heights. Certificates were given out to about 270 students who successfully completed the curriculum for Semicha Issur/Heter, Hilchos Shabbos, Siddur Chuppa v’Kiddushin, Mikvaos, Shechita, Orach Chaim, Rav Kehilla, and Hadrochas Chassanim.
The event began with the emcee, Rabbi Chaim Yisroel Wilhelm, inviting Rabbi Menachem Mendel Yuzevitz, menahel of Machon Taharas Ha’Bayis to say the Rebbe’s chapter of Tehillim. Then the audience watched a video of the Rebbe, a sicha in which the Rebbe spoke about the importance of Torah study.
The first speaker was Rabbi Dovid Refoel Banon who said how Rabbi Zushe Wilhelm a’h asked him to join the Vaad Ha’Semicha of Lemaan Yilmedu, before the start of the first cohort three years ago. Rabbi Banon said he didn’t dream that the mosad would grow to the extent that it has.
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Marlow, rav of the Chabad community in North Miami Beach and maggid shiur in the program for Rabbanei Kehillos at Lemaan Yilmedu, spoke next. He connected the Semicha event to Rebbetzin Chana a’h, who did so much so that her husband would be able to continue writing his chiddushei Torah.
Rabbi Yosef Konikov, shliach in Orlando and a student in the Hilchos Mikvaos track, represented the graduates. He relayed questions that shluchim asked him when they wanted to understand why a busy shliach would take a course at Lemaan Yilmedu. In a fascinating talk he explained the advantage of joining an organized program and the great impact this has had on the shlichus of them all.
Rabbi Gedalia Oberlander, who began serving as rav of the Chabad community in Kingston, Pennsylvania, made a special trip for this event. He encouraged the graduates to put time into reviewing what they learned. Like his predecessors, he praised the director of Lemaan Yilmedu in the United States, Rabbi Zushe Wilhelm a’h.
After the seudas mitzva, as befitting the honor of the Torah and those who learn it, the Mara d’Asra and member of the Crown Heights Beis Din, Rabbi Yosef Yeshaya Braun, was invited to speak. Despite the busyness at the offices of the Badatz erev Yom Tov, he attended this significant event. He connected the Chabad minhag not to say Selichos during the Aseres Yimei Teshuva to the investment made by the talmidim in studying and being tested over the previous year.
At this point, the audience watched a moving video in which rabbanim, talmidim and family members spoke about Rabbi Zushe Wilhelm a’h and how he began this huge operation of Machon Lemaan Yilmedu in the United States.
The final speaker was R’ Moshe Lozenik who told how the learning over the past year impacted not only him but his entire family and surroundings. This led him to continue learning this year, this time – Hilchos Shabbos – Halacha L’Maaseh.
Then came the part they were all waiting for, when the emcee called up over 120 students who completed their studies and attended the event. These were aside from the additional 150 students who completed their studies but could not personally attend the event and watched it live.
The excited graduates received their certificates, signed by the distinguished rabbanim, members of the Vaad Ha’Semicha: Rabbi Yosef Yeshaya Braun, Rabbi Dovid Refoel Banon, Rabbi Gedalia Oberlander, Rabbi Yochanan Gurary, and posek, Rabbi Gavriel Tzinner. Rabbi Dovid Lau, Chief Rabbi in Israel, signed for the students of the programs for shluchim l’rabbanim.