Once Rabbi Yisrael (Lipkin) Salanter (1809-1883) did not appear at the synagogue for the Kol Nidrei service. It was quite dark and everyone was ready to begin the service, but there was no sign of Reb Yisrael. The congregants were getting most impatient, and the head of the community decided to send a messenger to the rabbi's residence to see what was detaining their spiritual head.

The messenger soon returned and reported that no one was home; everyone had left for the synagogue. Now the congregation became worried and decided to send a search party to look for the rabbi. All the streets were searched, but there was no trace of the rabbi. Suddenly, as one of the searchers passed a house in the poorer section of the city, he looked through a window and there in a darkened room sat the rabbi. He was bending over and rocking a cradle. “Sh, Sh, be quiet,” warned the rabbi as the search team entered. “You will wake the poor child. It took me all this time to put him to sleep.”

Later he explained that on his way to the shul, he heard a baby crying. He located the house from which the sobbing came, entered it, and saw that the child had been left alone when all the elders had gone to the shul for the Kol Nidrei service. “What else could I have done?” he demanded. “How could I have started the Kol Nidrei service knowing that a poor Jewish infant was crying.”

Dear friends, in our community and in Jewish communities throughout the world there are many Jewish children who are crying. They are yearning for a Jewish education and would love to know about the Torah — our golden heritage. They want to know what a Jew is all about and become attached to G‑d. We can hear some of this crying: It is in the form of the questions they are asking about Judaism. However, there are other people whose crying we cannot hear: the neshamah in them cries.

Let me paraphrase tonight to you and to myself the words of Rabbi Salanter: How can we sit calmly Yom Kippur night in shul, knowing that a Jewish child is crying — how can we face Hashem when there are Jewish children who are not receiving a Jewish education, either because of the parents’, unwillingness or inability to pay tuition or because our schools do not have enough funds to offer more scholarships?

I recall once visiting a philanthropist for a donation for the yeshivah and he asked me, “Rabbi, how many students do you have in the yeshivah?” My reply was “not enough.” I went on to explain, that every Jewish child should be receiving a Jewish education and as long as that goal is not reached the total number of students in yeshivot and Hebrew day school is “not enough.”

I know that all of you here tonight share my concern about Jewish education. I am sure your heart aches for all those who are not in yeshivot and also for the financial difficulties confronting our Torah institutions. However, let me tell you a story that I hope will spare me the need of further elaboration.

A story is told of a man who complained about chest pains. His wife told him to lie down to rest while she called the doctor. The doctor came to the patient’s home, sat down at the bedside, and took the patient’s hand in order to take his pulse. In a faint voice the patient said, “Doctor, it is not my hand; the pains are in my chest, near my heart.” To which the doctor responded, “I know, but from the hand we know how the heart works.”

There is no doubt that everyone has a good heart, but let our hand demonstrate (by giving charity) how our heart works.