the vaad HIstory

The idea to found the Vaad L’Hatzolas Nidchei Yisrael arose in 1976 when Rabbi and Mrs. Mordechai Neustadt visited the Soviet Union. On that trip they smuggled tashmishei kedusha in to Russian Jews. The inspiration that Rabbi Neustadt derived from that trip served as the seed that eventually flourished into the idea to send organized groups of Jews to bring spiritual nourishment to those stuck behind the Iron Curtain.

In 1981, at the behest of Rabbi Neustadt, four shlichim were clandestinely dispatched to Russia. They met with young Jews in Moscow, Minsk, Vilna and Riga and began to teach the first baalei teshuva in the young, fledgling and absolutely illegal baal teshuva movement on Soviet soil. In those days, innovative methods of smuggling in sefarim and tashmishei kedusha had to be utilized. Sefarim were generally photographed and then the pictures were brought in and secretly distributed to the growing network of young Jewish men who wished to learn about their religion.

1983 found the Vaad conducting a clandestine summer camp in Yurmula while further expanding their activities to East Berlin. That year, 18 shelichim arrived.

During those years, the Shelichim would come and simply continue learning with the Russian Baalei Teshuva from where the previous Shelichim had left off. Their thirst for learning was practically insatiable.

Throughout the 1980’s more and more Shelichim journeyed to Communist Russia as an increasing number of seminars were held. All of this action was taking place under the watchful eye of the KGB.

By 1990, when Communism was in its death throes, 128 shelichim went and in 1991 the number was up to 206! Those two years saw an explosion in the Vaad’s operation. It was then that the Tbilisi Yeshiva opened as well as 2 girls’ seminaries, one in Moscow and one in Kishinev.

In the early 1990’s, the Vaad expanded even more. It began to organize tours led by Hagaon Harav Shmuel Kamenetzky shlita, and the Novominsker Rebbe, shlita, among others. Towards the end of the 1990’s, Harav Mattisyahu Salomon, shlita, became heavily involved in the Vaad’s activities. In 1999 he led the chizuk mission to all of the Vaads myriad institutions, and in 1999 Rav Salomon assumed the nesius of the Vaad and continued leading the missions for many years.

In 1991 and throughout the next 12 years, the Vaad maintained Boys and Girls schools, in St. Petersburg, Kishinev, Baku, Kuba and Tbilisi. Presently, the Vaad is concentrating its activities primarily in Baku and Tbilisi, while the St. Petersburg, Kishinev, and Kuba communities continue to develop under the management of other organizations.

In 2012 Rav Yisroel Belsky zt”l, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas, led the annual Chizuk Mission. Upon his return from Baku and Tbilisi Rav Belsky joined Rav Salomon in the nesius of the Vaad. 

The Vaad reopened a new kindergarten in a modern spacious facility in Tbilisi producing a boom in enrollement. Currently there are 60 children in Kindergarten and First Grade.

The Vaad 37 Yearly Milestones

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