This letter is really letter 2. I began a letter in my mind (where so many letters stay…) last week. I wanted to tell you about the amazing people who I meet when I travel, and how wonderful it was to see so many girls at the events that took place throughout the States, and how the organizers brought a level of professionalism that I haven’t as yet seen at events for Our Crowd.
Then I went to the final event, last night’s 50th anniversary and reunion in Yerushalaim. It took place in Neve’s wedding hall, which is on top of the dining room, and easily holds a thousand people. It was more than full. It was FULL FULL, there was a “girl” from Neve’s first year, when they lived in an apartment, all 6 of them. There was a photo image of the ad that Rabbi Refson placed in the Jerusalem Post offering yeshiva courses to beginners, which brought him the half dozen original girls rather than the young men he had anticipated. There were “girls” who slept in the Neve library when there was no more room for them in the dorms, but they loved Torah enough to brave it out. We called it the “Geriatric Ward” because it was only the more mature girls (in their late twenties) who realized that this was a great bargain-getting meaning and eternal life for just a bit more discomfort than they had ever imagined having to experience. There were the Grand Success stories, women who made a name for themselves in every imaginable field including women who are now stars in the world of Kiruv, and famous teachers and authors. And (at least to me) there were the Mothers. Women who raise Torah families. Women who could show me their children’s wedding pictures and leave me moved by seeing the armies they have raised. There were the young women, still starting out, still figuring out where they will be in another month or year. The one thing that they know is that they want to be part of this.
After an hour and a half of mixing, which felt like fifteen minutes, the program began. It was chaired by Estee Yarmish, the chessed queen of Har Nof, with her usual flair for being both enthusiastic and grounded. Rabbi Refson spoke first, and shared his message of how failure is pa rt of the package, and that getting up again is what counts; how the part of you that is like Yaakov (which means heel) is the same as the part of you that is like Yisrael, which means that Hashem prevails. I don’t know what Rabbi Chalkowski said. I had intended to listen, but I couldn’t stop just watching him and learning more from who he is in essence than I could have learned from words. I kept on trying to get myself back on track, but I was enjoying watching his fatherly/rebbe/very human/humble/humorous and serious way of speaking to really catch anything. There was a movie taking you back generation by generation to Neve’s girls; for some people the message was, “Look how things have changed since Cheshvan 1970” but to me it was, “Look how nothing has changed. The girls are still searching, finding, and becoming sisters. The teachers are still there for them, and willing to take them as far as they can reach. Outside circumstances changed, and the students are affected by the world that they live in. Inside changes have not taken place nor will they. Rabbi Refson’s son, Rabbi Yonah Aryeh Refson, spoke about growing up with 10 girls at the table on Shabbos when that was the entire student body. He also spoke about the future, and the aspirations that Neve has; the one that hit me hardest was the ambition of having more outreach to the girls who return to the States, more programs for them. Another movie, this one much shorter, showed the faces of Neve, quick portraits of a sampling of the girls who “introduced” themselves earlier by speaking about how Neve changed their lives. At that point things changed. A moving and very real commemoration of Rabbi Azor was given, as well as a brief film in which you saw him as he was, smiling, dedicated and so very present. Rabbi Michael Rokach took over from there. He , the one, who brought this about spoke about raising the money needed for you to be an active participant in Neve’s future. He asked everyone to commit themselves to pledges and by the end of the evening about $150,000 came in. But as they used to say, “YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN YET”. There are generous benefactors who have committed to give three times the amount of money that is raised. The goal that has been set for initiating the new projects is 7 million dollars. That means that only two and a half million dollars have to come in from the other donors like you and me. There was an electronic screen that monitored the incoming pledges and donations. They ran from $2.50 given by one of the rabbis (it was all he had in his pocket at the time), in order to demonstrate his feeling that he just can’t leave without showing that no amount is too small to some anonymous donors (ELENOR ROOSEVELT?) who gave four digit sums. This is just a prelude to the real fundraiser which will take place this coming Monday and Tuesday under the auspices of Charidy. There will be people womaning the phones, making calls and getting in the rest. As they used to say,
BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!
NEVE 50TH REUNITE CAMPAIGN
To celebrate Neve Yerushalaim’s 50th year and to launch it into 50 more, Neve’s 25,000 alumnae are REUNITING in a global fundraising campaign spanning decades, demographics and borders.
Because of your passion, influence and personal soul connection to Neve, we would love to have your talent in raising the crowd in our upcoming crowd-raising campaign, December 15th and 16th.
Your participation in our 50 REUNITE campaign - a 48 hour fundraising event is not only appreciated but crucial to the success of our campaign and overall fundraising efforts. With the goal of raising $7,500,000 we can go into celebrating a growing future together, focused on outreach, making Neve affordable to all through a scholarship endowment, and fully supporting our Neve alumnae in their future growth.
We live in very challenging times. Assimilation and apathy run rampant. Many young women are unaware of their inherent G-d given gift. Your partnership is critical ensuring an inspired, educated and empowered Jewish future.
Please join this campaign by taking on a personal pledge (personal fundraising goal) to have your own personal page link to share and post on all your social media platforms, allowing all your contacts to join you in supporting Neve and their work.
Remember, any donations you give to the campaign will go towards your Moral Obligation balance.
We have all the materials necessary to help guide you through and make this an easy process.
(We would’ve loved to have an event in each state and country throughout the world. However, we will be making the livestream of the events held last week, available for you to view as well.)
Please take on a pledge: https://docs.google.com/…/1WIwX3jC34nF02IKdkqgHlL…/viewform…
To pre-donate https://www.charidy.com/neve
Thank you again for all your support.
The Neve Yerushalayim Family