The Rachel’s Children Reclamation Foundation (RCRF) commemorated the yahrzeit of Rachel Imeinu on Sunday, October 17, 11 MarCheshvan, the yahrzeit of Rachel Imeinu, at its 27th Annual Yahrzeit Dinner. This year was doubly exciting, with two separate programs – one in Jerusalem’s Baka neighborhood, just a stone’s throw from Kever Rachel, and the other at the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center – since RCRF Founder Evelyn Haies made aliyah with her husband Jay on July 4, 2021.
Activist Dr. Paul Brody was, once again, the masterful Master of Ceremonies in New York, beautifully singing the Star-Spangled Banner and Hatikvah. The keynote speaker was HaRav Mayer Alter Horowitz shlita, the illustrious Bostoner Rebbe of Har Nof, who attended with his lovely rebbetzin. The Bostoner Rebbe has a long history with RCRF. He was among 3,000 celebrants when RCRF held a Hachnasas Sefer Torah at Kever Rachel on Rosh Chodesh Tamuz 1998. The Bostoner has also attended many events at Beit Bnei Rachel.
The Bostoner Rebbe spoke of how important the acquisition of the buildings next to Kever Rachel was and is. The fact that Kever Rachel today is recognized to be a living Jewish stronghold – and not a museum – was an outcome of the Rachel Children’s Reclamation Foundation. Originally, the government of Israel was thinking of having a “fort” built around Kever Rachel, not including the houses owned by RCRF. After a strong political battle, they had no choice but to include the Jewish property in Beit Lechem as part of Kever Rachel.
This, in turn, brought about usage of those buildings for shiurim and classes for women, and ultimately, the hachnasas sefer Torah in 1998. This showed the Israeli government the love that the Jewish People have for Mama Rachel. The result was having Kever Rachel open 24 hours daily for prayers and the furtherance of Torah study.
Among the honored guests were illuminating speaker Rabbi Akiva Eisenstadt, who helped establish the Manhattan Beach Community Kollel; Dead Sea Scrolls authority, NYU Judaic Studies Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman, close personal friend of the Bostoner Rebbe, as well as instructor of a weekday Sefer HaChinuch class in Great Neck, attended by Dr. Brody; and speakers: Jewish blogger and long-time RCRF supporter, Mrs. Robin (Faige Rayzel) Ticker, and Manhattan Beach native, NYPD Deputy Inspector Richie Taylor, the New York Police Department’s highest-ranking Orthodox police officer.
The program also featured two music videos based on Evelyn Haies’ lyrics, “We are Rachel’s Children,” both brilliantly produced by last year RCRF honoree Daniel Finkelman, with dramatic music by past honoree Cecelia Margules. The two videos contrast how Kever Rachel appears now and before the Intifada. The first video was by singer Michael Ian Elias, the second by superstar Gad Elbaz.
At the RCRF event in Yerushalayim, well-known Jerusalem blogger Rabbi Yehuda Lave opened the program, which took place in the Baka home of Evelyn and Jay Haies, with the singing of Hatikvah.
Rabbi Moshe Borger, an esteemed rosh yeshivah at Yeshiva Ohr Somayach, delivered a stimulating talk about Rachel Imeinu passing the secret code to her sister Leah.
Rabbi Chaim Bancroft, a student of Rabbi Uziel Milevsky of Ohr Somayach of Toronto, spoke about “Torah and Technology” and how Rachel was so righteous that she gave the “simanim” to her sister Leah.
Esther Cameron, who has a doctorate in Poetry, spoke about the role of poetry in the literary life of Palestinian Jewry during the first half of the 20th century, and how Rav Kook utilized this vehicle to influence am Yisrael.
Evelyn Haies, President of RCRF, thanked all the participants and attendees, and expressed optimism for the future of Mama Rachel for her legacy to continue to play a major role in the life of the Jewish People.