By COLlive reporter
The leadership of Kol Yakov Yehuda – The Rebbe’s Diamond Daveners in Los Angeles, California, recently traveled to Israel to celebrate 3 special Bar Mitzvah occasions.
The first milestone was the founding of the “by kids for kids” congregation over 13 years ago. What started out as a group of young boys davening together on Shabbos quickly turned into an institution.
It was established by activist Rabbi Mendel Duchman in memory of his father-in-law Rabbi JJ Hecht whose 26th yartzeit will be observed this summer. It operates under the auspices of Congregation Levi Yitzchok of Hancock Park.
Now boasting 5 separate divisions, the shul offers age appropriate davening for even the little congregants, an Ezras Noshim for girls, Ezras Anashim for older boys and girls and a Gesher Group for children of “all abilities” staffed by special volunteers.
The girls division, which earned a good reputation among Chabad girls wanting to come to shul on Shabbos mornings, is headed by Duchman’s daughter Srula Chaiton. It was recently renamed Chaya’s Ezras Noshim in loving memory of 12-year-old congregant, Chaya Spalter OBM.
Another occasion the trip to Israel marked was the Bar Mitzvah of the shul’s presidium Levi Cohen, Yechezkel Pinson and Mendel Rayburn, all students of Cheder Menachem in Los Angeles.
The shul holds annual elections to appoint a president, vice president and secretary of state, with the 8th-grade boys playing the role of Gabboim, taking on junior rabbi responsibilities, giving a weekly sermon and overseeing day to day operations of the shul.
In Israel, the 3 boys were privileged to receive an Aliya at the Kotel in Jerusalem and participate in the large Bar Mitzvah celebration for orphans organized annually by Colel Chabad (the third cause of the trip).
Their trip, accompanied by Rabbi Duchman, had them travel around the Holy Land, visit historical and meaningful sites and renew their love and commitment to Yiddishkeit and Mivtzoim by leading by example.
Here’s an account of the trip written by the boys themselves:
“The trip of a lifetime”
By Yechezkel Pinson, 13
When I was campaigning to be Vice President of KYY- the Rebbe’s Diamond Daveners as it began its fourteenth year, I had no idea where it would lead me.
A couple of weeks ago, I was notified that Rabbi Mendel Duchman would be taking us on a presidential mission from Los Angeles to Eretz Yisroel.
And of course, all was done in style and with such class. We had a packed schedule that kept us on our toes, accomplishing what the average traveler would do in double that time.
On our trip, we made sure to proudly wear our bright yellow shirts and our Shul’s KYY medal that reminded us of who we represent and the pride we take in our accomplishments on behalf of the 250 of Unzere Kinder back home.
Immediately upon our arrival at Eretz Yisroel, we were on our way to Chevron and Kever Rochel. It was during that ride, seeing the beautiful hillsides filled with small brick houses and olive trees, that I actually felt being in Eretz Yisroel was a reality.
After having the chance to daven by the holy Avos and Imohos, we drove through Chevron. It was very powerful to know that Chabad’s presence is so strong there. The kever of Rebitzen Menucha Rochel is so important to us that the state of Israel made sure to include it as part of the agreement with the Arabs that it belongs to us.
Eretz Yisroel is so beautiful. One of the most memorable drives was the one from Yerushalayim to Yam Hamelach. As the beautiful scenery of the sand dunes and salt flats passed by, I tried to take it all in…
When we took the tour of Chizkiyu’s tunnels, I found it fascinating that it was possible for such a long tunnel to be built in just a mere short with just chisels and hand tools.
Shabbos in Yerushalayim was most remarkable as we joined the many groups of yidden all going in the same direction- to the Kosel Hamaaravi. It was so amazing to be part of this experience.
The highlight of our trip was to participate in the mass Bar Mitzvah that kolel chabad makes for the special orphaned children. The magnitude of the event was felt as my friends and I joined the thousands of people joining in the joyous event.
It was a great privilege to meet both chief Rabbis of Israel and to be a part of klal Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel for those days which flew by so fast.
Where do I start?
by Levi Cohen, 13
Where do I start describing this amazing, awesome trip? From when we got our feet spiked up in Chizkiyahu’s tunnel, from when we heard our echo across the Judaeo mountains on Masada,
When we went on top and behind the scenes of the kosel wall, or when ate the Friday night meal with a view of the kosel right next to us, (as Rabbi Duchman says “that’s better than a view of any beach”)…
Thank you Kol Yakov Yehuda for everywhere you took us to: me’aras hamachpila, Chaya’s kever, on top of Yerushalayim’s walls, David Hamelech’s kever, the City of David, touring the Jewish quarter, the shuk, and of course the reason why we went to Israel: the orphans bar mitzvah, at the kosel when we were escorted under a canopy with people playing instruments to our Aliya, when we took a pictures with Israels chief rabbis…
Thank you for this exciting, fun, awesome trip! (a tip for future presidium, work hard and you will get an awesome reward too)
This was a trip like no other
by Mendel Rayburn, 12
There was a lot of action without much time to spare. There was a lot of walking and touring. We also went to a lot of kevarim. It was pretty cool to hear about the Avos and then go their kevarim.
I always wanted to go to the kosel and now I finally got to go. It’s actually quite interesting to say that the kosel goes much deeper into the ground than it looks.
It’s very cool to have learned Chumash and Navi and then see the actual places that all of these things happened.
One especially neat anecdote was that from the City of David we could see where the obligation for ‘Aliya laregel’ begins.
Thank you so much KYY and Rabbi Duchman for such an unbelievable trip to Israel! I will remember it and cherish it the rest of my life .