For the hundreds of people who came to the Mir-Yerushalayim dinner last night, it was a chance to meet old yeshivah friends, hear their son’s progress directly from the Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Leizer Yudel Finkel, shlita, or pay tribute to one of the world’s two largest yeshivos.
For the yeshivah, the dinner, held at the Brooklyn Marriott, was an opportunity to thank the team of askanim who worked tirelessly to wipe out the debt that was a crushing burden upon the previous Rosh Yeshivah, the unforgettable Harav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, zt”l.
“The highlight is how the worldwide alumni have turned into a wonderful team effort to take on the achrayos of the yeshivah,” Rabbi Adrian Garbacz, the yeshivah’s chief executive, said shortly before the program began.
The dinner, chaired by Ralph Herzka, president and CEO of Meridian Capital, honored Reb Zevi Brodt, Reb Ezra David, Reb Rafi Weiss and Reb Dovid Ginger for their work at tackling the multi-million dollar debt.
Dinner participants were welcomed by a replica of the yeshivah’s famous doors in the Beis Yisrael neighborhood, followed by a series of booths honoring all the Roshei Yeshivah, past and present, along with dozens of archive pictures of former and current talmidim.
The dinner began, in the unique Mirrer style, with a line of hundreds of people who gathered to shake the Rosh Yeshivah’s hand and get a quick progress report or brachah. Rav Finkel’s warmth was evident — he was smiling throughout, taking petitioners’ hands into both of his, and frequently rising to kiss an old talmid or chaver.
“My years learning in the Mir in Reb Leizer Yudel’s shiur were the best years in my life,” Naftali Davidowitz, who learned in the Mir about five years ago, said. He was sitting in a corner together with several friends discussing the greatness of the Rosh Yeshivah as they waited for the program to commence.
Rabbi Davidowitz said that he had just gone over to the Rosh Yeshivah as he entered the hall and received a heartwarming “Naftali, voss machst du!”
“He has a yeshivah of 7,000 people,” he marveled. “And he remembered my name!”