The Rachela Silber Perutz Morasha Hebrew Academy, the program where “no Jewish child is left behind,” held its annual dinner at Ahavat Israel Congregation. The hall was filled to capacity as students and supporters of the program spoke about its impact on their lives and on the Los Angeles Jewish community as a whole. The dinner was also attended by principals of other local Jewish schools, such as Rabbi Kupfer of Maimonides, Rabbi Krause and Rabbi Goldenberg of Toras Emes, Rabbi Langer of the Mesivta of L.A., and Rabbi Gottesman of the Calabasas Mesivta. Even before the dinner, the principals expressed their support for Morasha in a video circulated in the community. Rabbi Yoel Bursztyn of Bais Yaakov passionately urged the community to support Morasha, calling it a cause “of paramount importance.” Morasha is known in the community as the school that never turns away a Jewish child. “Our values-based curriculum coupled with the softness and warmth of our dedicated teachers and staff allow our students to thrive in an academic and social environment accepting of all children,” states Morasha’s website. The program’s success was apparent from the very beginning of the dinner, when the Morasha boys choir performed beautifully for the appreciative audience.
The first guest speaker, Rabbi Avrohom Stulberger, Head of School at Valley Torah High School, spoke about the importance of Morasha’s work. He quoted the Seforno on the parshah, who said that if you have a child or a disciple, “they need to feel that you’re giving them everything you have.” That is precisely the message that Morasha is sending its students and the community at large, said Rabbi Stulberger – unconditional love and acceptance. “No child left behind is a vision we need to support,” he said. “We are fortunate to have Morasha and Rabbi Harrosh as its leader. They do incredible work.”
Two Morasha students, Noam Pritikin and Aryeh Carmel, spoke about their experience at the school. Noam, age 10, came to Morasha at the beginning of this school year. He said, “Before I went to Morasha, my teachers thought one way and I thought another; they would insist that I do my work a certain way, even if I had another way of doing it that also worked.” Within the first week of attending Morasha, Noam felt right at home. “I’ve never really gotten an opportunity to daven and learn Torah at my other schools, until I came here,” he said. “It makes me feel like a part of the Jewish community.” Noam expressed his appreciation to his teachers and principal at Morasha. Aryeh, age 9, did not come with a prepared speech. He charmed the audience with his confession that he did not want to speak, but Rabbi Harrosh encouraged him to express what is in his heart. “The kids are nice, and the staff are awesome,” said Aryeh.
After these moving speeches, the Master of Ceremonies, Bernard Suissa, called up Rabbi Harrosh and presented him with a gift: a clock. The keynote speaker, David Suissa, the Editor-in-Chief of the Jewish Journal, spoke about meeting Rabbi Harrosh a decade ago and writing an article about him entitled, “The Man with Seventy Children.” Mr. Suissa was very impressed with Rabbi Harrosh’s dedication to his students, whom he treats as his own children. Whenever a student needs anything, Rabbi Harrosh is ready to step in and help out. When Rabbi Harrosh asked Mr. Suissa to speak at the dinner, he immediately agreed, because “how can I say no to a man who never says no?” Mr. Suissa spoke about the “crazy love” he witnessed at Morasha – the love for one’s fellow that transcends the limits of reason. “Crazy love is the future of the Jewish people,” he said. “Rabbi Harrosh and others at Morasha are a movement to shine this incredible ideal of crazy love to the whole Jewish community of Los Angeles.”
After Mr. Suissa’s speech the audience watched a video about three families’ experiences at Morasha, with interviews with the parents and the students themselves.
The common theme was the boys’ desire to learn Torah and to participate in Jewish life, and their gratitude for being afforded this opportunity at Morasha. Their moving stories brought some guests to tears. The audience responded enthusiastically to the call to support Morasha. One family, Alon and Monique Abady, spontaneously offered to match all the donations pledged at the dinner, and over $45,000 was raised on the spot. Concluding the event, Rabbi Harrosh thanked everyone and said that awareness of Morasha’s work is even more important than the money raised. He urged the audience to “be an advocate for the school.” He spoke about the importance of customizing Jewish education for each particular child. “I couldn’t live in this city knowing that our children are deprived of Jewish education,” he said, explaining there are hundreds of Jewish children in Los Angeles who need a school like Morasha and that the program would like to grow and accommodate them. More information about Morasha, including the video shown at the dinner, is available at https://www.morashaej.org