Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



A Man of Principal

Yisroel Besser

Generations come and go in New York’s Bais Yaakov of Boro Park, but one thing has remained the same: the principal. Assuming the position was a difficult decision for Rabbi Osher Lemel (Oscar) Ehrenreich, who wanted to serve as a maggid shiur teaching Torah. He took it anyway, if only as a stopgap measure. More than five decades later, he’s still at the helm of the largest Bais Yaakov elementary in North America, continuing to guide with unique wisdom and humility.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Imagine, if you will, an emerging Jewish community, so small that it doesn’t even have a girls’ school of its own. It’s in a neighborhood that seeks an identity, with first- and second-generation Irishmen and Italians slowly resigning themselves to the fact that the Jews, steadily flowing in, hold the brushes in their hands — that they will decide the color of the canvas.

So the numbers climb, and the community gets a girls’ school. The students come, slowly but surely, and the school grows. A young, idealistic man with an air of authority about him leads the blossoming institution, steward not just to a school, but to a concept: Bais Yaakov.

There is a cloud hovering over the school: he has to educate young, sincere girls and fill their hearts with pure, undiluted emunah against the backdrop of some of the most horrific events in our history. He has to teach them to believe even as many of their own parents carry the scars and wounds, teach them to sing even as the sounds of muffled sobs fill their long nights.

So he taught them, and they believed.

They grew older, moved on, had daughters of their own.

And he taught the daughters too.

He had a “shprach” (roughly: language) for the newer generation, just as he’d had for the first one. The little school flowered, becoming a big school, meeting the demands of the community, which had not just grown, but exploded all around it.

And then a third generation came in, the children of the rebirth, children who’d never known — and couldn’t even conceive of — the suffering of their grandparents. The children of today, to whom the term survivor means something so different from what it once did.

Imagine that the same principal still leads.

And imagine that the community is Boro Park.

 

 

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"