When I was invited to discuss the growing challenges facing today’s youth with Rav Dovid Cohen, shlita, the venerable rosh yeshivah of Yeshivas Chevron, I wasn’t expecting to meet with anyone else. But to my surprise, when I arrived at Rav Cohen’s home in Jerusalem, I was greeted by an assembly of marbitzei Torah, including Rav Dovid Nussbaum, the distinguished mashgiach of Yeshivas Torah Ohr.
Rav Dovid Cohen is a recognized authority on matters relating to chinuch. He is not only the dean of Yeshivas Chevron, one of the largest and most respected institutions of learning in the world, but is also a leading member of the rabbinical committee of Vaad Chizuk. Founded in 2004 by the renowned mashgiach Rav Shlomo Wolbe, zt”l, Vaad Chizuk is an organization that provides encouragement and guidance for the spiritual and emotional challenges that many yeshivah bachurim face while learning in Eretz Yisrael. Along with the increase of the number of American bachurim learning in Israeli yeshivos, there has been a commensurate need to provide those bachurim with personal counseling. Rav Shlomo Wolbe responded to that need by creating a support network for them.
Rav Wolbe entrusted the mission to his grandson, Rabbi Eliezer Wolbe, who now serves as director of Vaad Chizuk. Reb Eliezer expanded upon his grandfather’s vision and developed an impressive infrastructure. To date, Vaad Chizuk has trained over 600 avreichim who operate in more than 40 yeshivos, mentoring the bachurim. They also host melaveh malkahs, Shabbos meals and chaburas in their homes.
In addition, Vaad Chizuk maintains a nightly hotline between 9 and 11 p.m. staffed by professionally trained avreichim. The hotline provides immediate assistance to bachurim who have nowhere else to turn. More recently, Vaad Chizuk has organized massive gatherings featuring gedolei hador and prominent roshei yeshivah and mashgichim. These events attract thousands of bachurim and are a venue to provide a fresh perspective, a sense of connection, and practical tools for life as a ben Torah.