When 12 freshman boys in Rabbi Gross’s Gemara class wrote a letter to the families of the Har Nof kedoshim, they had no idea how powerful it would be. It is only thanks to alum, Lisa (Dordek) Goldenhersh (’73)–who happened to hear about the letters–that they can now know.
Lisa, who has lived with her family for 23 years in Har Nof, is intimately involved in the needs of the victims and their families. Together with her friend, Riki Freudenstein–mother of ICJA alum Aviva Heller (’97)–Lisa has distributed money to the families and attended to their needs during this challenging time. It was while the pair were at the home of Breinie Goldberg, wife of Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg Hy”d, that Lisa and Riki discovered the letter from the boys at ICJA.
Breinie and her daughter were explaining to their visitors that what has helped them so much amidst their tremendous pain is that so many people from Am Yisrael showed that they cared. What they thought was their own private mourning was instead a loss for all of klal yisrael. Breinie showed Lisa and Riki a shoe box stuffed with letters from Jews all around the world, expressing condolences and making resolutions to grow in the merit of the victims.
What happened next was incredible, says Lisa. “Breinie told us that the most powerful letter she got was from a Gemara class in Chicago.” Breinie had no idea that Lisa had attended the same high school or that Riki was a parent of an alum. She only knew the comfort that a beautiful letter from 12 freshman boys brought her.
When Lisa said she went to ICJA, Breinie read the letter aloud. Most profound were the words, “Since the Kedoshim died during davening, wrapped in tallit and tefillin, we, as a class, decided to devote this year to strengthen our shmirat hamitzvot in the areas of tefillin, tefillot and tzitzit. We are confident that this focus will have a lifelong impact on our commitment to these mitzvot and will serve as a merit for their aliyah neshama.”
The Goldbergs hope to eventually make a scrapbook of all the letters they received. Lisa left the Goldberg’s home with a scanned image of the boys’ letter and a new connection between her Har Nof community and her alma mater.