Jul 17, 2017
The Bochur Who Didn't Give Up

Friends and family remembered Menachem Bruchstat, the bochur who never gave up on doing the right thing despite challenges, and had a Shul founded in his name.

By COLlive reporter

Friends, family, and community members came together in Bais Rivka Shul of Crown Heights to mark the Shloshim of Menachem Mendel Halevi Bruchstat OBM, on Rosh Chodesh Tammuz.

An array of speakers enlightened the audience with personal stories about Menachem, and gave a wonderful insight into the life of an incredibly determined young Chassidic man.

The event was emceed by Menachem's cousin Rabbi Shneur Zalman Lipsker, Director of Chabad at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. The turnout was a beautiful tribute to Menachem and reflected all the people he had touched during his short life.

Menachem was born as a healthy child to Reb Sholom and Rochel Bruchstat in their later years; A ben zekunim, born after 9 years of not having any children.

Family members described him as "the cutest, most adorable baby, who brought the whole family much joy." At the age of 6, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor which he battled for 13 years.

His dedicated parents provided him a life filled with love and warmth and a life of a Chabad tomim without any compromise. He was the favorite uncle of his nieces and nephews who lovingly called him "Feter Menachem."

During the event, Tehillim and the 12 Pesukim were recited by his nephews Levi and Arye Dovber Bruchstat. A poem written by his oldest niece, Chaya Cousin, was read as well.

TWO OBSERVATIONS

Two common observations about Menachem were shared by his teachers and principals - Rabbis Wilhelm, Feldman, Silman and Twersky, at Oholei Torah.

The first point was that Menachem never used his life's challenges as an excuse. Although he struggled, he pushed himself to the limit with going to yeshiva, davening and other chassidisher hanhogos.

Rabbi Twersky related that although his balance was impaired as a side-effect of his illness, Menachem made sure to always go to the mikvah - even though it was literally mesirus nefesh for him to do so because of his condition.

"This would have been the perfect excuse to not go to the mikvah, but instead, Menachem didn't even consider it for a second. He made sure to go at the risk of injury," concluded Rabbi Twersky.

Menchem pushed himself to walk to Yeshiva and participate in the Shiurim and learning. Rabbi Feldman mentioned that looking over Menachem's attendance records, he was amazed to see how much he attended and participated even though it was so difficult to do so.

The second point shared about Menachem was his Ahavas Yisrael, and the beautiful relationship he shared with his chaveirim. There was a tremendous closeness and dedication between them, the family noted. The chaveirim were all so loving, dedicated and supportive.

Menachem's family related how they are still in awe of Menachem's exceptional chaveirim. The friends used to come over to hang out with him, play games and music during their breaks from Yeshiva. They would throw impromptu Chanukah, Purim, Lag B'omer and other parties.

When Menachem was hospitalized, they visited him and even walked over on Shabbos and Yom tov both ways (each way being 2 and a half hours!).

When they became aware that Menachem wasn't well enough to go to shul on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur of this year, they helped arrange a Minyan of lively guys to daven with him for all the Tefilos. This eventually turned into a weekly ongoing shul. Menachem chose the name "Beis Menachem Mendel" and a new shul was born. The shul is ongoing in the Bruchstat's home until they will outgrow it.

THE LAST PESACH

This year, the bochurim had an unforgettable Seudas Moshiach as over 30 boys greeted Menachem when he came home from a week-long hospital stay throughout Pesach.

Beis Menachem Mendel had minyanim all Pesach long, even with Menachem's absence. During the Shul's "Seudas Moshiach", they were all awaiting Menachem as he was scheduled to be released from the hospital.

When he arrived they had the most unforgettable Seder Niggunim, everyone's spirits were high. Watching the chaverim surrounding Menachem, enjoying each other's company and the beautiful seder niggunim, one could only delight in the tremendous display of Ahavas Yisroel.

The family underscored many times, just how much the chaveirim lifted up Menachem's spirit on such a deep level.

The classmates brought him much comfort and joy in his difficult times, they said. Menachem, in turn, brought together friends from different backgrounds, who otherwise would not have come together to join in Shabbosim, Yomim Tovim, and Chassidsher Farbrengens.

Speaking on behalf of the classmates was Shaya Zakon. He said they were all heartbroken and that he will live on with them until Moshiach's arrival.

Classmates announced that they will be raising funds to purchase a new Mitzvah Tank in Menachem's memory and that the Mitzvos done it will be in his merit. They were inspired by his dedication to Mivtzoim.

KARAOKE CHABAD

Rabbi Eli Muchnik of Camp Simcha, where Menachem would go in the summer, recalls how Menachem would sing the Chassidic niggunim that he father composed during Karaoke activity. Menachem even taught the campers and staff the "Rebbe niggun" of that year.

Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Rav of Beis Rivkah Shul which the Bruchstat family attends, and welcomed Menachem, spoke as well.

He related that when Menachem was born, his grandfather, R' Shalom Mendel Kalmanson OBM was still alive. And thus the name "Mendel" was not given. This year, when the name was added, Menachem felt complete. He related that Menachem felt that his connection to the Rebbe was now complete.

Rabbi Bogomilsky told of Moscow's Chief Rabbi Yehuda Levin coming to New York in 1968 on an official visit from the Soviet government. He was followed around by his Russian "minders" at all times.

Most Jewish leaders protested his visit as it was a way for the Soviets to falsely display that Jewry in the U.S.S.R. was alive and well, when in fact the opposite was true. The Rebbe, aside from disagreeing with the protests, felt that Rabbi Levin's visit was a protest to those American Jews who were not under duress, Rabbi Bogomilsky said.

"They, in fact. had no excuse to not practice Yiddishkeit to the fullest," he said. "Rabbi Levin who did, in fact, have excuses under the oppressive soviets maintained his Yiddishkeit."

Rabbi Bogomilsky concluded with a practical takeaway: "For all of Menachem's chaverim, who B"H don't have those challenges, may you all be well and be marich yomim, but never forget Menachem who was so strong and worked so hard to Daven, say Tehillim, be ma'vir sedra etc. as I personally have witnessed here in this shul."

Rabbi Berel Levitin, Menachem's uncle, related that the Parsha following the Rebbetzin's Shloshim and Menachem's Sholshim are both "Parshas Parah." He said, "Menachem kucht zach in inyanai Moshiach and Geulah and awaited for Moshiach every day."

HIS MEMORY LIVES ON

During shivah, it was related that a young bochur once observed Menachem in shul and noticed that he did not make kiddush until he concluded "Shnayim Mikrah Echad Targum." This bochur, inspired by this, took it upon himself to start reciting it as well every Friday. A handful of "Shnayim Mikrah Echad Targum" will be donated to local Yeshivos.

Additional activities planned in his memory are installing an emergency Shabbos phone in local shuls. When picked up, the line will be automatically connected to Hatzalah medical volunteer services. This will be co-sponsored by the participating shul.

Also planned is a "buddy bench" or "Ahavas Yisrael Bench" to be installed in local school playgrounds. When a child doesn't have anyone to play with, he turns to this bench and somebody will invite him to play. Menachem epitomized Ahavas Yisrael, he cared so much for everyone, friends said.

A Sefer Torah, which will have a home in Beis Menachem Mendel, will soon be started. Friends hope that the new Mitzvah Tank will be utilizing Menachem's Tefilin to help other Jews with the Mitzvah.

The program ended with a 5-minute slideshow and a short video clip of Menachem blessing his friends at his 18th birthday last year. His friend Mendy Felberman helped put together the slideshow. The music chosen was the song "Menachem" composed by Dedi.

After the program, a farbrengen for the class was held in Beis Menachem Mendel / Bruchstat home, and lasted till the morning.

The family thanked the entire community for coming and especially to the wonderful organizations which helped them along this difficult journey: Chai Lifeline, RCCS (Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society), and Bikur Cholim of Crown Heights.

Bikur Cholim deserves special recognition for throwing an unforgettable "concert" in Menachem's home this year in honor of Menachem's 19th birthday, Chof Gimmel Shevat. Menachem said, "it was his best birthday ever!"

To donate to any of these Menachem's wonderful initiatives you can paypal to Mitzvah4Menachem@gmail.com



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Opinions and Comments
1
I didnt know before
Thanks so much for sharing!
(7/17/2017 12:26:02 PM)
2
Y cohen
So sorry i couldnt make it. I am so so sorry over the loss of menachem. May he be a mailitz yosher for all of us. Many condoleces to the Bruchstat family.
(7/17/2017 12:54:37 PM)
3
Poem read at Shloshim
Written by: Chaya Cousin (Menachem's Niece)

Dear Feter Menachem,

Who can put into words?
Your love of life,
Of family,
And of your nieces and nephews?


Who can put into words?
Your positive outlook
Your acceptance of your situation,
Your Emunah and Bitachon?

Who can put into words?
The way you greeted everyone with a smile,
The way you sincerely thanked everyone who visited you,
The way you entertained me with your funny stories?

Who can put into words?
Our grief,
Our longing,
And our yearning to see you again?

Who can describe?
What it feels like to lose a person
So filled with life and love?

No one can.

Menachem, I know you’re in a better place now.
A place of no pain and sorrow.
You will forever have a special place in our hearts.
And I daven every day that we will be reunited very soon with Moshiach.

Who can find one word to describe, the epitome of life, love, hope, and happiness?

I can.
MENACHEM.


(7/17/2017 7:00:24 PM)
4
Please donate
His classmates are working very hard on projects in his memory please take part
Moshiach now
(7/17/2017 7:02:23 PM)
5
Slide show link
https://youtu.be/4VJSlXvM8Xg
Mendy felberman (menachem's classmate) helped prepare this slide show for Menachem's shloshim. May Menachem storm the heavens and bring Moshiach
(7/17/2017 7:05:43 PM)
6
Chani V
I must say that hearing the beautiful things about Menachem, and his incredible Emunah, and Yiras Shamayim is really something inspiring. He inspired so many in his short life, and that is just awesome. But has anyone stopped to think that this special neshama and character was molded by two very incredible people? His parents molded the character he turned out to be. Without them he would not have had the strong yiddishkiet backbone, and the midos that he had. He learned them from somewhere. Rabbi and Mrs. Bruchstat, as you continue to shtel oif yiddishe doros, know that your work is not in vain. It has been the catalyst to inspire a whole host of people. Me included. May Hashem bentch you with the ultimate brocha of Moshiach now.
(7/17/2017 10:39:16 PM)
7
#3 brought real tears to my eyes
Wow well written and so sincere. Moshiach now!
(7/18/2017 4:39:52 PM)
8
Buddy Bench - beautiful idea!
No child should be without whom to play during recess. Great practical idea!
(7/19/2017 8:31:01 AM)
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