I agreed with much of what Rabbi Mordechai Tokarsky stated in his opinion piece, “Losing The Battle Here To Keep Russian Jews Jewish” (Aug. 30), regarding missionaries’ battle for the soul of Russian Jewry.
The main thrust of his article was, it seems, that the future of Russian Jewry is uncertain, since, as he writes, “Without Jewish education, it is certain that those descendants of Russian Jews … will not be practicing Judaism.” That statement is the ultimate truth.
Rabbi Tokarsky writes that the American Jewish community came together a generation ago to help free Soviet Jews but there is not much anchoring them to Judaism in America. I’d like to point out that a generation ago American Jewry established a yeshiva, Be’er Hagolah, for Russian boys and girls (in separate divisions) knowing full well that without a Jewish education there is not a chance that these Russian Jews will be practicing Judaism.
This yeshiva exists today, 34 years later, and continues to educate many hundreds of boys and girls each year. As a result, as adults they go out into the world as proud practicing Jews.
Be’er Hagolah continues to exist only through the generosity of the Jewish community at large since the tuitions are extremely low and no child is ever turned away due to his/her parents’ inability to pay tuition. Of course, the result is that Be’er Hagolah struggles for its very existence. It is clear that a Jewish education from pre-K through high school is the way to ensure Jewish continuity, and our graduates are proud testimony of that fact.
Executive Director Be’er Hagolah Institutes Brooklyn