This past week, hundreds of people from the United States came to Eretz Yisrael for Agudah’s annual Yarchei Kallah in Yerushalayim. Among them, came a notable group from the Queens community that brought Rabbi Ilan Meirov, the director of the Chazaq organization, to join them on their three-day journey.

The group spent most of their trip holding private meetings with numerous g’dolei Yisrael who shared divrei chizuk with them, while also learning about Chazaq’s life-changing work with public school students. A touching moment was when Rav Moshe Sternbuch, Raavad of the Eidah HaChareidis, told the group that supporting Chazaq’s programs for public school students is the most important

mitzvah one can be involved with. After writing a letter in a sefer Torah, the group danced with the elderly Rav for several minutes.

Rav Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi, Rosh Yeshiva of Ateres Yisrael, was also visibly moved by Chazaq’s work. He was happy to hear that his talmid, Rav David Yosef, gives his heart for Chazaq’s mission and offered to assist in any way possible. Chacham Shalom Cohen, Rosh Yeshiva of Porat Yosef, shared that saving one child is precious in the eyes of Hashem; how much more so when hundreds are being saved every year. He blessed the group to continue with their avodas ha’kodesh.

A highlight of the trip was when the group received a special visit from the current Sefardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, HaRav Yitzchak Yosef, who joined them for a s’udas mitzvah and gave a shiur for nearly an hour on the importance of learning halachah.

The Chief Rabbi shared that his relationship with Rabbi Meirov extends to over a decade, when he assisted him with his first sefer and introduced him to his father, the late Poseik HaDor, Chacham Ovadia Yosef. He congratulated Rabbi Meirov on the success of Chazaq and encouraged the group to continue strong and to not be satisfied. “There is a lot of work to do, and Chazaq must continue leading the way in inspiring the Queens community, especially the Bukharian community who are in need of some basic guidance to bring them closer to Hashem.”

The group spent the last few hours of the trip visiting g’dolim in B’nei Brak, being privileged to hear a private shiur from Rav Shimon Baadani, and receiving brachos from Rav Chaim Kanievsky and Rav Gershon Edelstein, amongst others.

Overall, the experience was one of great chizuk for the entire group, whose members renewed their commitment to learn and spread Torah in their respective communities.