This year’s convention slogan was “Together We Will.” As I mentioned to Dayan Abraham last week, this seems to be like a kankan yashan hearkening back to one of the first Agudah slogans of “Together.” So I wanted to know if there is a chiddush here or if it’s just going back to the roots.
It’s a reminder of one of the foundational principles of Agudas Yisrael, which was to create a koach harabim. The koach harabim means bringing people together, just as they were brought together when the movement was first founded by gedolei Yisrael from all over Europe. The feeling was that the best way to deal with the challenges of galus—no matter their nature—would be by creating an agudah achas. This is a chazarah of that essential foundational principle, which is also something that requires chizzuk in today’s world.
Q:There are many challenges in today’s world, and you’re always involved in the ones that affect the tzibbur. When you speak of the agudah achas being able to combat the issues, which ones in particular do you have in mind?
A:There is a special brachah that rests on a rabbim that does a mitzvah as opposed to a yachid who does the same mitzvah, although it’s not something tangible that we can necessarily see. However, in a very tangible way, the greater the constituency on whose behalf we advocate, the more we can accomplish in the political arena. Trying to obtain resources for the community as well as trying to preserve the integrity and independence of the community requires shtadlanus—advocacy at the highest levels of government. That advocacy is tremendously enhanced when you have a koach harabbim that comes from people of varying neighborhoods and backgrounds.
Q:When we spoke last, we discussed the challenge of Agudas Yisrael—and so many other organizations—to get the youth involved. What has been done since then, and do you see any movement in that regard?
A:I always take chizzuk from the convention, so having just come back from there I can personally attest that there was a very substantial turnout of what we’ll refer to as younger people. Young is in the eyes of the beholder, but there were younger people in the sense of an age group that had not really identified with any askanus until now and are now intrigued with getting involved. The fact that they came to the convention and that we’ve gotten so many emails in the short time since the convention from people who were inspired by the convention and want to get involved and be oseik b’tzorchei tzibbur, gives me great hope. People say that the younger generation is wrapped up in its own issues, they don’t really care about the community, they’re apathetic, etc. But this shows that in klal Yisrael there still remains a spark of enthusiasm that many people have—including those of the younger generation—and it’s just a question of finding a way to ignite that spark. We are certainly looking forward to having younger people join our ranks—it is a priority—and I see tremendous potential for galvanizing the next generation.