On Tuesday morning, the 200 Beis students were privileged to have Rabbi Josef Mendelevich, the ex-prisoner of Zion and former Russian Refusenik come in and speak to them. He was freed by the now defunct Soviet regime in 1981. Rabbi Mendelevich shared his experiences of his time in custody and his life afterwards. He expressed his desire to live as a proud Jew in a country where it was nearly impossible to practice Yiddishkeit without fearing for one’s life.
Every single boy and Rebbe alike was spellbound for the 35 minutes of Reb Mendelevich’s address.
When he described having to daven under those circumstances, and how lucky we are today where we can prepare for Yomim Noro’im in perfect security, it brought home the reality of our comfortable life. We should appreciate living in a country where people of all faiths are free to worship without fear.