By Shmuel Katz

It has been a busy couple of weeks. Our dreaded move has come and (mostly) gone. The drive to get ready for our first day in yeshiva is in full swing. And the kids are home with nothing to do–as with every year in the month of August.

In year seven of this column, the dearth of summer activities for our youth is not news to you. I am sure that I have kvetched about it every year. Although, this year is different; this year does not feel quite as bad as prior years.

I think it is a mixture of the kids’ getting older and the focus on the move. With little time to prepare ourselves, and faced with a large estimate from the movers for a move of about 700 feet, we decided to take things into our own hands and self-moved, hiring professionals to move only the large appliances and heaviest of our furniture.

While all the kids helped out, Mordechai (age 12) and Moshe (age 8) were really unbelievable. Packing, taking things apart, schlepping, building, unpacking–they did it all. It was important for them to be a part of the process, and thankfully they are excited about their new home and a lot less upset about the whole thing than they had been a couple of weeks ago.

Now that things have settled down with the move, the kids are bored and driving us (well, Goldie) crazy. I am not as bothered, because I simply have not been around the last few days. Opening the yeshiva for the first time (next week) has kept me quite busy and will continue to do so.

Building furniture. Preparing orientation. Preparing for our first tiyulim. Making arrangements for all sorts of things like food, cleaning, you name it–we are doing everything for the very first time. Although we have been planning for and anticipating this week for over a year, we didn’t take possession of the dorms until a couple of weeks ago and just got the keys for the yeshiva building earlier this week.

So I have made multiple runs to IKEA as well as a whole host of other places, and we have been accepting deliveries of furniture and equipment for both the dorms and the beit midrash (as well as sefarim) for the past week or so. We continue to revise and refine our schedule as variables require (like the three students who couldn’t manage to arrive on time), and the excitement on this side of the ocean is tangible.

By the time you read this, it will really be crunch time–those last few days when we put the final touches on things and take care of the things we suddenly realized that we had forgotten (like my realization yesterday that we forgot to order mezuzah holders for the mezuzot). I have always been a deadline guy–those who know me will attest to my best work being done at the last minute. Yet even I am a bit taken aback by the scope of what we have done so far.

And once we open, like that last time I started with a new (at least to me) yeshiva, you get to be in the passenger seat again. Tiyulim, special shiurim, events–the whole gamut of the year in Israel is once again my life, and thus fodder for these pages. v

Shmuel Katz is the executive director of Yeshivat Migdal HaTorah (, a gap-year yeshiva opening soon. Shmuel, his wife Goldie, and their six children made aliyah in July of 2006. Before making aliyah, he was the executive director of the Yeshiva of South Shore in Hewlett. You can contact him at


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