Over 300 fathers and sons gathered on Motzoei Shabbos Parashas Noach at the Chicago Center Beis Medrash for the annual Father and Son Gala Melaveh Malkah, celebrating the culmination of another exemplary year of the Father and Son Learning Program. Coordinated by the Chicago Center for Torah & Chesed, the Father and Son program enables fathers and sons in 15 shuls across the greater Chicago area to spend quality time each Shabbos – learning and bonding through Torah.
With hundreds of children in attendance at the learning program each week, in neighborhoods that span West Rogers Park, Peterson Park, Lincolnwood, and Skokie, its impact is remarkable. Rabbi Morty Ginsparg, a regular participant commented, “The program strengthens bonds between fathers and sons, and teaches the right way to spend the Shabbos day!”
The festive and uplifting atmosphere at the melaveh malkah reflected the feelings of accomplishment and excitement shared by participants and demonstrated the remarkable achdus shared by the Chicagoland community. Mr. Binyamin Babendir described the annual melavah malkah as “one of the highlights of life in Chicago – with boys from each shul, school, and neighborhood enjoying Motzoei Shabbos together.”
This year, the participants were privileged to be joined by several Roshei Yeshivah who were visiting Chicago as part of the Torah U’mesorah Shabbos of Chinuch. Harav Reuvain Feinstein, shlita and Harav Sholom Noach Landau, shlita, all graced the melaveh malkah with their presence, and the boys had the special opportunity to give shalom aleichim to the Roshei Yeshivah.
Rabbi Tzvi Bider, executive director of The Chicago Center served as the evening’s emcee; divrei brachah were given by Harav Landau, Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshiva Ohr Shraga Veretzky. The Rosh Yeshivah told the story of the Bluzhever Rebbe. While in the concentration camp, the Rebbe had to jump over a pit that was fifty feet wide. Miraculously, he succeeded in jumping over the pit, and insisted that he did so ‘by holding on to mesorah of his ancestors.’ Harav Landau asserted that similarly, in our times, is the mesorah of children learning Torah that keeps Klal Yisrael going.
A special haKoras haTov was extended to the dedicated coordinators of each shul who provided their time and energy to maintain a successful program each week and to community askanim, Mr. and Mrs. Volvie Hollander, for their generous sponsorship of the program, liluy nishmas Reb Avraham Aver ben Reb Yeshaya and Reb Boruch ben Reb Avraham Aver.
The evening concluded with an eagerly anticipated raffle distributing sets of sefarim and other prizes. But the ultimate prize was the Torah growth achieved by each and every father and son participating in the program – reflected in their shining eyes.