A special Torah study daycamp took place during the period of the Nine Days that culminate in Tisha B’Av, in a 'Bein Hazmanim', between the semester, yeshiva. Students gathered to learn in memory and for the elevation of the spirit of the late Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu.
The yeshiva called itself “Avihem Shel Yisrael” after a series of books which contain stories about Rav Eliyahu. What made this study period special is that it was initiated by the students themselves and that they ranged from fourth graders to eight graders.
“These wonderful children called me and asked that we study together,” Rabbi Avi Buganim, head of the Avihem Shel Yisrael (Father of Israel, name given to Rav Eliyahu) Bein Hazmanim yeshiva, said. “It started three years ago. We studied together, in the shelter downstairs, about 40 children. Last year 60 children came and then it doubled to 120.
“I think what happened here is a real revolution,” he added. “We don’t offer them any attraction. I don’t have an amusement park or anything like that. It’s simply children who come to study Torah out of love for the Torah.”
The program included lectures and study sessions led by Rabbi Buganim as well as other prominent rabbis, including Rav Eliyahu’s sons. The students were also shown films about Rav Eliyahu.
“During the nine days there’s not much to do and one of the things to do is just to come and study,” one of the students said. “That’s what you can do. Studying is actually what you need to do during the nine days.”
The children also heard special lectures: a scribe showed them how he writes the Torah scrolls, an expert in the "tchelet", turquoise, color for tzitzit showed them how that is done, they saw films on Gush Katif and Entebbe - but most of the day, they studied in chavruta, pairs, and together worked on question sheets about respecting parents, loving one's neighbor, love for the land of Israel.
Rabbanit Tzvia Eliyahu, wife of the late rabbi, also came to see the young students as they study in her husband’s memory.
“It’s very exciting for me,” she said. “The rabbi really loved the children. He said: ‘The children are our future. They are everything. We need to invest in the children. Encourage them. Understand their spirit.’”
Rabbi Buganim strengthened her words, saying, “Rabbi Eliyahu always said that the children come before everyone else. That’s what we do.”