Avremi’s Fruits Blossom To This Day

Avremi is the boy standing to the right of the Rebbe.

After the tragic murder of Avrohom Eliezer Goldman, a camp fund was established with the Rebbe’s bracha. For 47 years, the Avrohom Eliezer Camp Fund has enabled thousands of children to spend their summers at camp.

By Daniel Goldberg

For 47 years, the Avrohom Eliezer Camp Fund has been a pillar of the Chabad community. Its financial aid has enabled thousands of children to spend their summers at camp, enjoying exciting activities in a vibrant Torah atmosphere.

Younger community members may be unaware of the story behind the fund’s name. Avrohom Eliezer Goldman was a son of Rabbi Moshe and Mrs. Esther Goldman (may they be well), prominent Lubavitcher Chassidim of Crown Heights. An outstanding 17-year-old student at Oholei Torah, he was a model boy of exceptional virtues who studied diligently and prayed devotedly. Kind and caring, he always sought to help others in any way possible, aiding fellow students in their studies and sharing with others his love for learning and excitement for Yiddishkeit.

Beloved by all, young and old, Avremi was a natural leader from a young age, even a visionary. For example, he organized collection of maamad in his yeshiva. And when the Rebbe called for all males aged 13+ to put on (in addition to the normal “Rashi” tefillin) “Rabbeinu Tam” tefillin, too, he launched a fund to help needy fellow students acquire their own pair – which can be very expensive. Full of contagious energy, Avremi was always in the forefront of every new mitzva campaign launched by the Rebbe.

On Friday afternoons, Avremi would go to Manhattan with fellow students to invite Jews to put on tefillin and do other mitzvos. When a man they met told them his wife had recently given birth to a little girl, Avremi, never one to miss an opportunity, asked whether she had a Jewish name yet. He offered to arrange for the name the parents selected to be given to her officially at a Torah reading in the Rebbe’s presence at 770.

The following Sunday evening, 27th Sivan, 5737 (1977), Avremi left his yeshiva to use a nearby public phone to call to find out the name the parents had chosen. Moments later, three young thugs who later admitted they wanted to kill a Jew came up and stabbed him. Holding his chest, Avremi managed to walk back to the yeshiva, where he asked for a glass of water and said the blessing “shehakol,” before his holy soul returned to his Maker.

The tragedy was felt by the entire community. Avremi’s funeral was attended by thousands of Jews, led by the Rebbe himself. He was laid to rest very close to the Ohel, next to his grandfather, Rabbi Eliyahu Simpson, a prominent elder Chasid, who had passed away months earlier.

Next door to the Goldmans lived Reb Eli Lipsker, the well-known musician of blessed memory, and his wife Leah (may she be well). Leah wanted to do something in memory of Avremy הי”ד, and wrote to the Rebbe with three suggestions. Of these, the Rebbe underlined and gave his blessing for starting a camp fund. This seemed very appropriate, because working with children at summer camp had been a favorite of Avremi. The Camp Fund was founded immediately, with the Rebbe’s monetary participation. Until today, Mrs. Lipsker continues to be a mainstay of this important fund.

But that isn’t the end of the story. First, Avremi’s friends made sure the newborn girl should indeed receive her Jewish name, Pesha, at a 770 Torah reading in the Rebbe’s presence.

When she was one year old, the little girl’s family moved to Florida. Although they observed Judaism only minimally, Pamela, as she was called, craved for more from a young age. In fourth grade she asked her parents to enroll her in Hebrew school. Although she received the barest Jewish education there, she continued attending until the end of high school.

At the age of 16, she lost her father to cancer, a devastating blow. During his illness, Rabbi Yosef Biston, the local Chabad representative, who had befriended her father years earlier, would visit him at home, giving him encouragement and helping him put on tefillin.

In her early twenties, Pamela attended a Jewish event and was deeply impressed by the Torah insights she heard. She started attending Torah classes and Shabbos services, even keeping Shabbos to the best of her knowledge. Learning of a Chabad House within walking distance, she was welcomed there by the Chabad couple and attended regularly. When she met an Israeli young man and they decided to marry, she asked Rabbi Biston, because he had been so close with her father, to conduct the marriage ceremony. Rabbi Biston asked whether she knew her Jewish name. She didn’t even know she had one. But the Rabbi said he knew it was Pesha, and related to her the inspiring background story.

On her first wedding anniversary, her mother surprised her with the gift of a framed portrait of the Rebbe, attached to which were several dollars her parents had received from the Rebbe. Unknown to her, Rabbi Biston had taken her parents to the Rebbe twice during her father’s illness to receive his blessing. Suddenly she realized that her love for Judaism from a very young age, and her eventual path to teshuva, must have resulted from the Rebbe’s blessings!

Several years later, the couple moved with their two sons to Israel, settling in Rechovot, where they became part of the local Chabad community. After hearing the back story of her Jewish name, she always hoped one day to establish contact with Avremi’s parents. Eventually she summoned up courage to make one of the most difficult phone calls of her life. “I’m calling about your son who was murdered thirty years ago,” she started.

Immediately, Mrs. Goldman responded, “You must be the little girl!”

“Yes,” she replied. “You should know I’m now a baalas teshuva [returnee to Jewish observance] living in Israel and raising a family keeping Torah and mitzvos, all thanks to your son’s efforts.”

A year later Pesha visited Avremi’s parents and family in Crown Heights, and shared her remarkable story at the camp fund’s annual fundraising auction. After accompanying Mrs. Goldman on a visit to Avremi’s grave near the Ohel, she decided henceforth to use only her name Pesha.

That year she gave birth to her fourth son, whom she named Avrohom Eliezer in Avremi’s memory. She called Mrs. Goldman straight from the bris celebration to give her the good news.

Pesha now has five children, all boys educated at Chabad schools. Such an education, she feels, will enable them to grow up to be like Avremi, striving to follow the Rebbe’s directives and to encourage fellow Jews to fulfill mitzvos. Her two oldest sons already go to mikva daily, love learning Chassidus, and observe everything with enthusiasm. And every Friday afternoon they are busy putting tefillin on many men passing by – just as Avremi used to do!

None of us can know why Avremi’s beautiful life in this world was taken from him. But the fruits of his efforts until his very last moments, crowned by the Rebbe’s far-reaching blessings, amazingly blossom to this very day!

We invite you to help continue Avremi’s efforts, for which he gave his very life, by contributing generously to the Avrohom Eliezer Camp Fund. This fund profoundly benefits so many Jewish children with a memorable summer experience that envelopes them in a wholesome Torah atmosphere while they enjoy healthy and stimulating activities. Such a summer leaves its positive imprint throughout their lives.

Just as Pesha’s life was changed so positively by only one of Avremi’s many good deeds, so can your contribution change the lives of one or more Jewish children!

Click here to donate generously!

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