Twenty-two years ago, a young Mexican bachur who was learning at Yeshivas Ner Yisrael in Baltimore, filled a tremendous void in the world of kiruv when he founded Or HaNer. Recruiting teenagers primarily from Central and South America, Rabbi Moshe Fuller, z”l, provided them with the opportunity to come to the States and experience Torah-true yiddishkeit, during their summer and winter school breaks. Although the young husband and father was recently niftar, his dream lives on through the thousands of students he was mekarev, many of whom subsequently attended yeshivos. Today, there are yeshivos and learning programs throughout Latin America, and a kollel in Panama, thanks to Rabbi Fuller’s impact.
This past week, STAR-K Kashrus Administrator, Rabbi Boruch Beyer, was a guest speaker at Camp Or HaNer boys’ campus on the grounds of Yeshivas Ner Yisrael. The sixty campers hailed from Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Panama, Columbia, and as far away as Israel. Rabbi Beyer, an expert in industrial kashrus and an experienced high school instructor, gave an interactive hour and a half session on basic kashrus and the challenges of keeping kosher.
Using a PowerPoint presentation, Rabbi Beyer piqued the teens’ interest. One of the most popular slides in the show portrayed a collage of expensive sports cars. “I knew that would really grab the attention of teenage boys,” explained Rabbi Beyer. “I used the sports cars in a mashal, a parable about why we keep kosher. Just like a sports car owner needs to follow the manufacturer’s manual to utilize the proper fuel in order to obtain the maximum horsepower from the car, Jews need to follow their manufacturer’s manual, the Torah, to only eat the proper foods that will fuel and get the most out of their Jewish soul and body.”
“Rabbi Beyer was an amazing addition to our program,” said Mordechai Friedman, a co-director of Camp Or HaNer. “He provided the campers with a deeper understanding of kashrus, on their own level, reinforcing principles that we have been teaching them in camp.”
“I was really impressed by their enthusiasm and interest in kashrus” noted Rabbi Beyer. “We are talking about South American teens that for the most part are coming from weak Torah backgrounds at best, and no background in most cases, but their questions were insightful and sincere. It was really encouraging.”