American Bochurim’s Dedication Saluted at Historic Siyum

Photos, Videos: David Katash/

The enthusiastic efforts of dedicated American bochurim to finish the 8th Children’s Torah, which was completed in record time, were saluted at the Siyum on Monday in Yerushalayim.

By reporter
Photos: David Katash/

It was thanks to the efforts of a dedicated group of bochurim and yungeleit that the eighth Children’s Torah was completed in record time, and their efforts were recognized at the historic Siyum on Monday in Yerushalayim.

On Yud Alef Nissan 5741, the Rebbe announced a new initiative; A Torah should be written for children, uniting Jewish children around the world. Over the next few days, the Rebbe farbrenged another two times, urging Chassidim to sign children up for the special Torah.

The first Torah was finished in a matter of months. The Rebbe introduced the idea on Yud Aleph Nissan and the letters were completely sold out by the end of Tammuz. That is 304,805 letters bought for 304,805 children around the world in less than four months.

But then, this year, something new happened. What started as the efforts of a few individuals in New York grew to become a worldwide revolution in the Rebbe’s mivtza.

At the forefront was ChabadAir at JFK airport and its dedicated volunteers; Director Rabbi Yossi Rapp, and bochurim Shmuel Butler, Mendel Gerlitzky, Mendel Mondshine, and Avremel Turen.

In an interview with, Gerlitzky said that he originally got involved in the efforts when he was learning in Postville and made an Ois B’sefer Torah Float at the Lag Baomer parade. At the parade they already had 35 sign-ups from the children there, and he realized what an easy mivtza it is to be involved in. Within minutes you can do it anywhere, even with other frum communities.

After that, he got very involved; reaching out to all the visitors who came to 770 and the frum families who came to the JCM on Chol Hamoed. He also brought it to the airport mivtzoim table and got all the people there involved.

“This year, it’s Hakhel, the eighth year, and the eighth Torah was being written,” he shares. “I reached out to Rabbi Shmuel Greisman and said we need to make a siyum this year. He agreed 100%. The challenge was that it was already Chanukah time they still needed another 170,000 letters. Since then, we spoke out in 770 and got many more people involved. Rabbi Sholom Ber Marzel in Eretz Yisroel rallied to increase the purchases there, and Rabbi Yossi Rapp of ChabadAir here in New York was working with me as well.”

A number of times every week, Gerlitzky, Butler and others manned the ChabadAir booth at JFK airport, offering Yidden on their way to Eretz Yisroel the chance to sign their children up. They quickly began bringing in dozens of new names every time they went.

The group of bochurim and yungeleit made sure to document and share their successes, and made a point to share photos whenever a distinguished rovrebbishe einikel or even a singer would purchase letters. Their fervor began to spread, spreading a new enthusiasm for the Rebbe’s mivtza across the globe.

The result: Tens of thousands of letters just from JFK, hundreds of thousands of letters from around the world, and a siyum in record time.

The siyum was held on Monday in the holy city of Yerushalayim. The final letters were written in the Tzemach Tzedek shul, and the procession then headed to the Kosel, where joyous hakafos were held.

Both during the writing and the dancing, the dedicated efforts of the American contingent were recognized. Both Butler and Gerlitzky were honored with writing one of the final letters, and Rabbi Rapp was honored to dance with the Torah during one of the customary eight hakafos.

Tens of thousands joined the celebration at the Kosel, which continued late into the night.

But the dedicated Americans weren’t satisfied with their accomplishment. Speaking to, each one stressed that the Siyum should only be a driving force to continue signing up children for the 9th Sefer Torah, and continue until every single Jewish child has a letter of his own.

The 8th Torah was completed in two years…how long will the 9th Torah take?


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