By COLlive reporter
Over this past month, a sweet young boy has been among the bochurim who receive their daily meals at 1414 President Street, the dormitory, kitchen and dining room of the Central Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim at 770 Eastern Parkway.
The Yeshiva’s new administrator Rabbi Benjy Stock took notice of him.
“I knew he was stranded in Crown Heights and that his parents worked it out with the Yeshiva that he would eat his meals with us,” Rabbi Stock says in reference to Israel’s Covid lockdown and the shutting of its borders.
Many Israeli Lubavitchers – like this young boy – who traveled to New York to mark Yud Shvat and the day the Rebbe accepted leadership of Chabad-Lubavitch remained stuck in Crown Heights.
This boy was one of them. “He was shy at first,” Rabbi Stock told COLlive.com. “But he got more comfortable and would sometimes ask for a second helping or that his food be warmed up when he came late to a meal.”
Last week, Rabbi Stock struck up a conversation with the boy and learned that his name is Aharon Elias and that he is a student at the Chabad Cheder in Petach Tikvah, a city in central Israel.
In fact, the boy commented matter-of-factly, “I’m turning 13 on Monday.”
Rabbi Stock says he was shocked to hear that the boy was to be in Crown Heights alone and unable to celebrate this important day in his life at home with his family and friends.
“I first invited him to eat at our house for Shabbos and then learned that he has 2 brothers at 770, so I invited them as well,” he says.
The next step was surprising the boy with a large birthday cake during dinner one night to uplift his spirits.
What happened next on Monday evening was beyond the boy’s imagination.
The Tashkent Room in the basement of 770 Eastern Parkway was transformed into an event hall with music, flowers and a full meal on set tables arranged by Rabbi Stock. The food was donated by Elchanan Deitsch of Dovid Malka Catering and decor by Debby Jerufi Events.
Bochurim filled the room to hear Aharon Elias recite the Bar Mitzvah maamar “Issa B’midrash Tilim” and then make a siyum on Gemara Megillah. Participants danced and rejoiced with the Bar Mitzvah boy throughout the evening.
The boy’s parents called Rabbi Stock the next day to thank him and all those who were involved in making their stranded son’s special day be so incredible despite the difficulties. “It was very emotional,” Rabbi Stock says.