Photo Credits: Jeff Cohn
On Shabbos Parshas Vayeira, Mercaz Torah U’Tefillah celebrated its Bar Mitzvah year Anniversary, marking 13 years from when it originally opened its doors in a humble little house. Since Harav Yissochor Dov Eichenstein’s arrival in Baltimore, he has changed the face of the community through his vision, passion, and incredible warmth. Today, Mercaz Torah U’Tefillah is renowned throughout the community as “Mercaz” (“The Center”), with Minyanim in the morning every 15 minutes from 6:15am until 10:00am, Maariv minyanim every half hour in the evening), 15 daily Daf Yomi Shiurim, countless Kollelim, Shiurim, Chaburos, and programs catering to the needs of all ages and demographics. The atmosphere within Mercaz is welcoming, with top tier amenities, food, drink, comfortable Batei Midrashim, and just an overall warmth which draws people in.
This special Shabbos was celebrated with the internationally acclaimed “Nylander Choir” of the Dushinsky Chassidus in Yerushalayim. The choir uplifted the crowd by leading the Tefillos over Shabbos, as well as singing at a special Oneg on Friday night and at a packed Shalosh Seudos.
The highlight of the Shabbos was an elegant event held on Motzei Shabbos at the “Baltimore Museum of Industry”, combining both a celebratory Melava Malka together with a Daf Yomi Siyum on Seder Nashim. Over 250 men and women came out to take part in this special event, which featured a 20-minute video presentation going through the history of Mercaz, and of course culminating with the Siyum. The Keynote speaker was Harav Yehuda Weiner, Maggid Shiur in Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, who for many years headed the Night Kollel at Mercaz and was instrumental in its growth. The mesayem was Rabbi Yochanan Stengel a longtime Daf Yomi magid shiur at Mercaz.
Being very much aware of the ongoing Matzav in E”Y and sharing in the pain of our brothers and sisters, the evening began with Tehillim and the Niggunim sung were more “Hartzig” with a focus on yearning for the Geulah. Nevertheless, at the event, Harav Eichenstein talked about of the importance and power of being B’simcha, and of the delicate balance needed between of sharing in the pain while not allowing it to drag down our Avodas Hashem. The event ended with a leibdig dancing immediately following the Siyum, celebrating the Simchas HaTorah which is what ultimately protects us all.
The energy and enthusiasm over the whole Shabbos was palpable. The stage for the next phase of growth of Mercaz has been set, and the Baltimore community looks forward to the next 13 years!