Adar II, 5763
How about some good news for Yerushalayim?
No point in dwelling on the dark side of things such as the need for a security fence around the Yeshiva campus with an armed guard on 24-hour duty to keep terrorists away; gas masks and sealed rooms in case the Iraqis shoot missiles with poison gas warheads; or even the establishment of a secular government which spells trouble for the future of the Torah community.
So what is the bright side?
First of all there was the big snow in Yerushalayim which was a special treat for all our American talmidim from the deep south and those from the Southern Hemisphere who never saw snow before. Despite the temptation to build snowmen and have snowball fights our talmidim showed their dedication to Torah by weathering the storm in the Beis Medrish and shiurim rooms.
And now on to the other exciting news from Ohr Somayach:
Despite the sharp decline in the number of people coming to Israel, a great group of follows from North American participated in our Winter JLE program. Here are some thumbnail sketches of colorful participants:
Simon Galed- graduate of Cornell with an M.A. from Michigan U., he recently ran as a candidate for State Representative of Michigans 27th District and has been working for the U.S. Federal Reserve doing economic research. Simon liked the trip so much that he decided to stay on after most of the others left.
Daniel Khoshnood- has his own Internet company and is setting up a system to help Ohr Somayach reach more people.
David Ebro came to JLE through a former JLE participant, Rabbi Sammy Bregman, who is director of outreach at the University of Miami. He serves as president of the International Economics Honors Society.
David Gruber- a Birthright veteran who serves as an administrator of a high school mentoring program with Americorp.
The list is a long and impressive one, reflecting the appeal which the JLE has for high caliber products of the finest universities, and for people already making their mark in their chosen professions who are anxious to take some time off to learn about their own tradition.
One of the highlights of every JLE is the Shabbaton in Tsefas. The one that took place on January 3-5 was truly something special. The Rosh Hayeshiva, Rav Nota Schiller, was there with his family to inspire the JLE participants and Introductory Program talmidim with his talks. Along with him were Rabbis Dovid Gottlieb, Reuven Geffen, Nosson Adler and Shalom Meyers. A visit to the Tomb of Rav Shimon bar Yochai in Meron and a tour of ancient Tsefas led by alumnus Chaim Sidor, who serves as a popular professional tour guide, endowed the Shabbaton with a special connection to our glorious history.
THE BIRTHRIGHT VISITORS
While Ohr Somayach, for technical reasons, did not participate this winter in the Birthright Program of bringing youth from abroad for a first-time visit to Israel, we did manage to host a large group of high school students from among the hundreds who came on this program from Jewish and government schools in the South African communities of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
There has also been great interest amongst those who participated in past Birthright programs to join our next JLE program which looks very promising despite the security situation.
THE GENERATIONS OF OHR SOMAYACH
Hardly a week has passed since we enjoyed a visit from a mission of Torontonians who came to Ohr Somayach in Yerushalayim for a week of solid learning. Heading the mission was Yaakov Kaplan, a third-generation Ohr Somayach alumnus who is the grandson of Joe and Faye Tanenbaum for whom our Yeshiva is named. Yaakov is a leading activist in Torah causes in his community, but his pet project is the Ohr Somayach Center in the Forest Hill community. Accompanying Yaakov on this mission was the director of this fast-growing operation, Rabbi Eli Karfunkel, who is married to the daughter of alumnus Yisroel Idels, a professional architect in Toronto.
This was indeed a demonstration that there is no generation gap in the Ohr Somayach Family. We hope that other alumni will follow the example of this group and join us for a vital experience in recharging their spiritual batteries.
The list of Mazal Tovs to alumni getting married, having children and getting positions is, Baruch Hashem, too long to include in this Alumni Update. Please view the ones we here extend as being only a token representation of the simchas we all share:
- Dov Connack on his appointment as vice-principal of the Shaarei Torah Primary School in Johannesburg, South Africa which is part of the Ohr Somayach Institutions in that city.
- Larry Shain, Aaron Subar and Baruch Levine on the Bar Mitzvahs of their sons.
- Leib Davids, Carl Racklen and David Rotenberg on their engagements.
- Michael Geller, Edward Karan, Albert Sebag, Grant Reichler and Daniel Speckman on their marriages.
- Mordechai Kruger, Shalom Segelman, Mark Greenstein and Yechezkel Ratner on becoming fathers and Stephen Rosen on becoming a grandfather.
Amidst this sharing in the simchas of our alumni we must add a note of condolence to some of our rabbeim:
- Rabbi Yaakov Bradpiece, on the passing of his mother.
- Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair, on the passing of his father.
- Rabbi Moshe Lazerus, on the passing of his father.
May they all find comfort in their sacred work of teaching Torah. May Hamakom console them amongst all the mourners of Zion and Yerushalayim and may they and all their talmidim of past and present know only simchas from now on.
A CHALLENGE TO YOU!
For a number of years Ohr Somayach has conducted a highly successful annual Yom Iyun in cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto. Thousands of people have attended these programs featuring outstanding lecturers from Ohr Somayach Yerushalayim. The current financial situation of the Yeshiva makes it imperative that we find sponsors for this event which is tentatively scheduled for the beginning of June. If you have any suggestions in regard to possibilities please contact alumni director Rabbi Moshe Pindrus (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Looking forward to hearing from you about your simchas and anything else you wish to share with the Ohr Somayach Family.