With the easing of the lockdown in Belgium and the shuls opening in the second week of June, local bachurim – unable to travel abroad to learn in their regular yeshivos – were most keen to resume learning in a yeshivah setting.
With U.K. yeshivos still closed to foreign bachurim, three Antwerp talmidim of Gateshead Yeshivah approached Rav Eliezer Geldzahler, Rav of Berdichev Beis Hamedrash, to help realize their dream.
Rav Geldzahler, a great-grandson of Rav Eliyahu Dessler, zt”l, wholeheartedly and generously encouraged the idea and together with these three bachurim embarked on the project.
In under one week, with phenomenal siyatta diShamaya, a large old mansion set in huge grounds on the edge of the frum neighborhood was transformed from an abandoned dusty mayoral residence to a yeshivah.
Scores of bachurim, cleaners, electricians and plumbers worked almost round the clock to clear the building, paint, install lighting and plumbing, and bring in furniture both for beis medrash and dormitory facilities. They were all ably directed by Mr. Boruch Lissauer, who went nights without sleep to ensure they start as quickly as possible.
Simultaneously, chavrusos of Antwerp boys made arrangements to join with over 15 boys from the U.K. and some from as far as the U.S.A.
The kvias mezuzah took place last Tuesday followed by passionate divrei pesichah from Harav Aharon Schiff, shlita, encouraging the boys as they have been blessed to resume learning in a yeshivah setting without distractions. By Thursday there were about 60 bachurim learning, with over 30 sleeping on the premises.
Physical facilities are still very basic but the hasmadah and obvious joy of being back in yeshivah reverberates from the beis medrash.
A small staff of high-caliber meishivim are learning together with the bachurim, including Rav Geldzahler who is leading the chaburah. The bachurim are preparing for the weekly shiur klali of Harav Avrohom Gurwicz, Rosh Yeshivah of Gateshead Yeshivah, with his marei mekomos, and listening to it together on speakers in the yeshivah.
Of course, the bachurim look forward to the reopening of their regular yeshivos, but in the meantime they are blessed to have this setting to continue to shteig.