Holy Letters: The 1st Day of Cheider (3-Minute Tissue-Alert Video)
So moving and beautiful…Translation below.
Narrator: One after another, 25 3-year-old boys wrapped in tallitot were carried yesterday [by their fathers] for the ceremony welcoming them to the Cheider Ohalei Torah in Kfar Chabad. The day that a child enters cheider is considered holy and joyful. Traditionally, this ceremony is considered a way to ease the child’s transition from his mother’s bosom to a stricter learning framework.
Rebbe Shlomi Greenfeld (teacher in the cheider): I have been a melamed for over three decades. This ceremony is generations old and it’s a special day for the students. Of course, it is forbidden for the child to see impure animals on the way to or home from the cheider, and the parents have to keep him at home the whole day. This ceremony has meaning for the children’s whole lives, for the child’s holiness. They lick the honey from the letters, because the Torah is sweet. After that they eat an egg, which is good for memory. After that we recite certain Torah verses. And there is also a verse on the cake. Everything for the child’s memory.
Rebbe Shlomi asks 3-year-old: “Who lays an egg?”
The child: “The Holy One Blessed be He.”
Rebbe Shlomi [smiling to father]: “He went very high up.”
R. Yisrael Frishman (grandfather of student): “It’s very exciting. We have a great merit that we merited to see our grandchild enter the cheider. We hope there will be much nachat.”
Tsila Rina [mother]: “It’s exciting, holy. We hope there will be only blessings, with Hashem’s help.
Rabbi Bentsion Vishetsy [Founder and director of the cheider]: Our aspiration was to continue the Jewish education of our children, and now you see we have a cheider with two whole classes. To raise children… [starts crying with emotion]
Narrator: Rabbi Bentsion Vishetsky, founder and director of the cheider, still feels moved and even sheds a tear every single year.
Rabbi Vishetsky: You can tell that we grew up in Russia. And what was our goal [when we set up the cheider]? To pass on love of Torah. Love of our fellow Jews. Love of the Land of Israel.
Narrator: Today was the children’s first day, and by the age of 4 they will know [the basics of] reading and writing.
Rebbe Shlomi: We teach them all the vowels.
Rivka Rivkin [director of the educational department, Lod area] : This is a path that starts at the age of 4 and finish at the age of 14. That is their path, and of the parents as well.
Narrator: The families hope that these children will become Torah scholars and fear Hashem. That they will know how to pray and recite verses from the Torah, and all of this with a Yiddish accent.
3-year-old recites blessing over candy.
Rabbi Vishetsky: We bless all of the Jewish people with a sweet and good new year.