Named for the nearby ancient town of Beit Zecharya, Moshav Zecharya has an interesting history. The current community was founded by Kurdish Jewish immigrants. Its early years were punctuated by bloody strife between the area’s Jewish residents and neighboring Arabs in the area. Since then, the moshav has grown into a peaceful, successful agricultural village. Belev Echad has been drawing its residents closer to their Creator since for 17 years.
The Littlest Protestors
Kids! Rabbi Elchanan shook his head. He loved his learning group of preteen boys on Moshav Zecharya. But he also had a problem.
The boys were – boys. Rowdy. Rambunctious. Mischievous. Though they seemed to enjoy the learning sessions Rabbi Elchanan organized for them in the moshav’s shul, they also seemed unable to hold themselves back from highly un-shul-like behavior.
Rabbi Elchanan wasn’t sure what to do. His normal class-control methods weren’t working. He couldn’t fathom putting an end to the group, but he also couldn’t allow its young members to keep disrespecting the beit knesset.
I won’t end the class, he thought. I’ll just tell them that because of their behavior, we need to take a break. Perhaps they’ll see I’m serious, and we’ll try again in a month or so.
Rabbi Elchanan sent his message to the boys through a different Belev Echad madrich.
He was completely unprepared for the boys’ reaction.
The next day, as he drove up to the beit knesset to deliver a mens’ class, he noticed a crowd of what looked like political protestors. They were brandishing handwritten picket signs and yelling hoarsely.
When he got a little closer, he gasped – and burst out laughing. The protestors were his little students! Their signs held slogans like “NO CLOSING THE SHIUR!” and “WE NEED TORAH!”
Rabbi Elchanan laughed harder as more signs came into view: “WE LOVE YOU RABBI Elchanan!” “THE SHIUR MUST GO ON!” “HOW WILL WE BECOME BAR MITZVAH??”
Suddenly, one of the boys spotted Rabbi Elchanan’s car. He motioned wildly to the others, who let out a collective whoop and rushed to surround the car.
Inside, Rabbi Elchanan wiped his eyes. Kids! Wonderful kids! Still chuckling, he pushed the door open and stepped into the small-but-mighty swarm.
“Okay, okay, boys, you win!” He put his hands up in the air. “I’ll make you a deal. You agree to behave as best you can – and we can have another learning session in an hour.”
The boys let out a cheer. When their time slot came, they tumbled into the beit knesset excitedly, looking comical as they tried to balance their enthusiasm with their promise to act respectfully.
Rabbi Elchanan watched them, heart swelling with gratitude. Belev Echad and its Torah classes were well beloved – and making a deep, genuine impact.