By Rabbi Arieh Raichman – Shliach in Manaus
It was thirty years since they stepped foot in the Yeshiva of Petropolis, Brazil that had created their Jewish base for so many years to come. In that period so much has changed in their lives, but their love for the yeshiva continues until this very day.
They were young teenagers, when Moises and David Benchimol first entered the renowned yeshiva. Many students would come from around Brazil to learn in the only yeshiva in Brazil at the time. And when they would leave they would give back to their communities by becoming leaders of synagogues and schools. David and Moises were no different, and came all the way from Manaus, Amazonas.
As the car drove through the yeshiva doors on that Friday morning, David said that he was feeling the emotions inside. When they came out of the car the Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Adi Binjamini greeted the two with great joy. Although many years had passed and many students had learned there, they recognized each other. At the time they were in yeshiva the Rosh Yeshiva was Rabbi Adi Binjamini’s father, known as the Rav.
Today, most of the students in the yeshiva are children of bochurim that learned with the Benchimols thirty years ago. As Moises said, “ It feels like coming home. When we learned here we were focused and did not have the distractions that we have today. This is where I feel the real me.”
During the Kabbalat Shabbat Rabbi Adi asked them which tune they remembered from Yeshivah and sure enough they remembered a joyous niggun. The joy of seeing, davening, learning, and living in the yeshiva atmosphere again was incredible. It was likeThe yeshivah lies in the hills of Petropolis and is surrounded with forest trees. The view gives the yeshivah the sense that one is really in “Gan Eden.”
After Shabbos finished, they went to do Kiddush Levanah and danced for the first time in 30 years. David and Moises stayed up until late telling the bochurim stories about how the yeshiva was back then. On Sunday after davening Mincha the two were ready to leave the yeshiva to catch their flight and they asked to take a picture with the bochurim. The bochurim encircled them and danced Ani Maamin, just like they did 30 years ago when they first left the yeshiva. The emotions and memories had an incredible impact on them in preparation for Rosh Hashana. They both have started to follow a part of the lifestyle they lived in yeshiva in their own homes. What is even more incredible is how they flew for 6 hours and only wanted to visit the yeshiva, even though the tourist city of Rio de Janeiro is where the airport is located.
They said, “Next year we will have to bring one more person so that they too can have this opportunity and feel what Gan Eden is.”