By: Dovid Joseph
It’s a very unique Chabad house with a very unique mission. One which reaches in to the youth of our community, right here in Crown Heights.
Let me paint the scene of an average Thursday night at A.L.I.Y.A. A spirited Farbrengen is in full swing inside the Shul. In the next room, a group of friends are catching up on some quality time over a game of ping-pong. Downstairs in the studio a spontaneous jam takes off on a classic chassidic Nigun, and upstairs in the gym the guys are working out. Mind, body, and a whole lot of soul. A brand of soul which is very loving and non judgemental, and a kind of soul which welcomes everyone regardless of personal beliefs, a “checkered past” or level of religious observance. A.L.I.Y.A. is a place where so many who have taken a different path in life call home, and a safe haven where they can come to learn, daven and enjoy yiddeshkeit.
I speak not of a new, “grassroots” idea of an organization, still in its infancy of development, but of one which has been in our neighborhood for over a decade. Last week A.L.I.Y.A. celebrated twelve years of service with an alumni dinner in Crown Heights. It was also in commemoration of the eighth yohrzheit of Benzion Keller O.B.M. who spent a lot of of time at A.L.I.Y.A. and was a great role model to so many. He truly exemplified the very mission of A.L.I.Y.A. with the tremendous Ahavas Yisroel he had for everyone.
In a festive and somewhat emotional evening, a crowd of alumni and friends of A.L.I.Y.A. gathered at The Jewish Children’s Museum. Rabbi Moishe Feiglin, A.L.I.Y.A’s founder and director along with Rabbi Noteh Shemtov and Rabbi Mendy Baitz, led the evening with much joy and energy.
Some notable honorees included, Mr. Norman Seigel, a New York State civil liberties attorney who has assisted A.L.I.Y.A. in past operations, Mr. Zaki Tamir, of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council who has been with A.L.I.Y.A. since day one, and Mendy Gochafi for his involvement with the organization throughout the last ten plus years.
Many beautiful personal experiences at Aliya were shared by Yehoshua Betesh, Rabbi Eliyahu Malachowski, father of an Aliya success story, Meir Seewald and Abe White. Many Aliya members contributed to make the evening even more special including Menny Boaron who supplied the amazing lighting, Moishe Okunov, Shaya Liebrman, Mendy Recho who played the most amazing music, Mrs Raymond for the beautiful three layered cake, Chaim Lazarus for the video, Marisha Camp for the photography and Mendy’s catering for the delicious meal. All and all it was a five star uplifting and inspirational event.
An Aliya Alum told Rabbi Feiglin right before the dinner that he would anonymously match all donations that come in within thirty days for the organization, which was announced at the dinner.
I myself am a proud member of A.L.I.Y.A. and was in attendance at this special occasion. It was an evening of true friendship, unity and support to a most worthy cause: Our youth right here in our community from the families which we know and from the very same world which we live in everyday. I personally walked away the very important message of loving every Jew because they are a Jew and a brother, and that we are all inseparable and ultimately responsible for one another.
It is only appropriate that this is all taking place on the eve of another Gimmel Tammuz, which hopefully will not have to commemorate twenty years since we last saw the Rebbe, and what better a way to do that than by focusing on helping one another and the unconditional love of a fellow Jew.
For more information about A.L.I.Y.A. and to contribute please visit www.chabadinreach.com