On the second day of Yom Tov Shavuot in 2012, Rabbi Shlomo Braun, Director of the Aleh Foundation passed by the Bikur Cholim Hospital on Rechov Haneviyim in Jerusalem where he had the accidental privilege of meeting and greeting the late Great Rabbi Ovadia Yosef zt”l as he was exiting the hospital.
When Rabbi Braun introduced himself to the Great Rabbi as a friend of Jack Avital, Rabbi Yosef’s face lit up and he smiled with his humble and gentle demeanor. Rabbi Braun thanked the Great Rabbi for the support he extended to the special children of Aleh (since 1983), for his beautiful letter encouraging and blessing all who support this holy cause (www.alehfoundationusa.org/endorsements/R’Ovadia.pdf) and for visiting the Aleh centers in Israel.
The Great Rabbi replied, “Yes, it’s a big mitzvah and a zechut (merit) to help such holy souls.” Rabbi Braun mentioned that only due to friends like Mr. Avital, Stanley Chera, Joe Nakash, and many others like them in the Sephardic community, was he able to put Aleh on the map in America and worldwide. In return, the Great Rabbi said, “my blessing to you for much success to continue your holy work for shanim rabbot (many years).
Rabbi Braun expressed admiration and affection for the rabbi and gratitude for the opportunity to meet such a noble tzadik (righteous person). He was touched and moved by his pure and passionate intent to devote his life to Torah, avodah (work), and gemilath hesed (acts of kindness) to the highest extent that can be imagined. Rabbi Braun echoed the feeling of respect from countless major Ashkenazic rabbinic leaders, who felt so comfortable with the fact that such a great Gödol B’yisrael (most revered rabbi) had made it his legacy to reach out to all groups of Klal Yisrael, and to be accepted by them as well, for which he will be remembered forever.
By Rabbi Shlomo Braun, the Founder and Director of the Aleh Foundation.