An estimated 5,000 participants jammed three halls in Boro Park Tuesday evening for a dinner on behalf of Bonei Olam. The packed crowd at the Ateres Chaya hall underscored Bonei Olam’s growth from helping local families to one with eight branches across North America and Israel, with a teaser Wednesday congratulating “Pin #CL0131 Israel” on the birth of Bonei Olam’s baby number 4,074.
The Bonei Olam dinner was housed in three separate halls, with the men watching the program from two floors in Ateres Chaya and the women in the nearby Hillman Plaza. A thick three-volume journal was handed out to the guests; it was also available on USB stick and on CD.
Bonei Olam has advertised itself as an organization that helps couples from every kehillah, and in turn demands support irrespective of affiliation. A cadre of volunteers worked for the dinner, which honored at least one member of a list of dozens of kehillos across Boro Park with the Nezer Habonim Award.
The annual dinner has become known for the surprises it springs on the guests, and this year was no different.
Excitement rippled through the crowd as Rabbi Shlomo Bochner, the group’s founder and executive director, arose in middle of the program to announce that he had just received an email from Eli Ostreicher. Mr. Ostreicher said that he and Shabsi Gross, the two Nedivas Halev awardees, were so impressed by the organization’s work that they were pledging $500,000.
It was a night of entertainment mixed with tears. Harav Pinchos Schneebalg, Rosh Yeshivas Vizhnitz in North London, was the guest speaker, Avraham Mordechai Malach, a maggid shiur and a badchan, served as emcee, and there was a vocal performance portraying an interaction between two men, one with children and the other without.
Rabbi Nachman Dov Teitelbaum, a Monsey yungerman, related the difficulties of going 22 years without children; he and his wife are now the proud parents of a child.
A special song was composed by Hamizamrim, a choir in Eretz Yisrael that sings at international events. Rabbi Bochner ended the program with an emotional personal speech.