On Sunday of last week, November 30, 2008, about 30 boys from Los Angeles’ Lubavitcher community converged on the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California to install a president of their own.
The venue, which enshrines the legacy of a real president, was chosen to add importance to a volunteer public-service position of a decidedly different variety—that of the president of Kol Yaakov Yehudah-the Rebbe’s Diamond Daveners.
KYY Diamond Daveners is the seven-year-old brainchild of Rabbi Mendel Duchman, a long-time community member and activist in L.A.’s Lubavitcher community, many of whom daven at the city’s Congregation Levi Yitzchok shul, where the junior minyan is based.
The program sees over 120 boys gather for Shabbos davening each week on Congregation Levi Yitzchok’s premises, led by the Bar Mitzvah boys among them who occupy the “mizrach vant” at the room’s front. The younger boys follow from behind.
“There was a need,” says Rabbi Duchman of the junior congregation’s founding motives. “There were over 100 children coming to shul every week. Sometimes we forget the obvious. They are our future leaders, and this shul serves to give them the opportunity to act as rabbi, gabbai or any shul duty” they may assume as adults.
Each year, Reb Mendel explains, the young mispalelim elect one of their own to lead the junior congregation, “which is for the kids, by the kids.”
This year’s new president, Mendel Raichik, along with gabboim Yossi Ginsburg and Mendy Richler, all 13 years of age, was installed at the Reagan Library, which the boys were visiting on a field trip.
A tremendous Kiddush Hashem was made at their visit, with the boys courteously greeting Library staff who were delighted and amused to be part of the “inauguration.”