It was standing-room-only at the Mesivta Ateres Yaakov Open House this Sunday, as the yeshiva hosted over 100 prospective students, along with their parents, all eager to learn all about “the MAY experience.”
The event included informative panels, video displays, passionate presentations, engaging dialogue, Torah brainteasers, team-building exercises, raffles, a gala luncheon, prizes, an elaborate student fair, slushies, competitions, and more.
Upon arrival, attendees were warmly greeted by the MAY hanhalah, its talented and dedicated faculty, and scores of student and parent volunteers. Guests were ushered into the elaborate student fair, where a multitude of booths, manned by current Ateres Yaakov talmidim, described the school’s myriad extracurricular programs.
Following the student fair, the menahel, Rabbi Mordechai Yaffe, addressed the crowd in the mesivta’s beismidrash. He explained that the goal in a yeshiva high school extends far beyond the high-school years and that the ultimate purpose is to build better husbands, fathers, and ovdeiHashem. “Everything that occurs within the yeshiva is aimed at facilitating that goal,” he said. Rabbi Yaffe concluded his remarks by explaining each phrase of the mesivta’s slogan “Rabbeim for Life. Education for Life. Torah for Life.”
An emotionally charged video presentation immersed the guests in the mesivta experience. The students then enjoyed a “mad science” presentation with MAY’s award-winning science teacher Joseph Malizia; team-building activities with director of student activities Rabbi Tsvi Greenfield and 11th-grade rebbe Rabbi Yonasan Sprung; stimulating, brainteasing shiurim delivered by 9th-grade rebbe Rabbi Avi Schulman and 11th-grade rebbe Rabbi Yehoshua Robinson; and a Q & A about MAY moderated by senior Dani Feit with assistant menahel/assistant principal Rabbi Yossi Bennett. The afternoon concluded with a delicious Chinese buffet and grand raffle (won by Eli Gross).
Parents attended panel discussions focusing on limudeikodesh, general studies, MAY parents, and MAY alumni. Prospective parents asked current parents and panelists a variety of questions:
Are the rebbeim really involved in the lives of the talmidim even after graduation? Alumni talked about their many experiences receiving weekly calls in Israel from faculty members about daily conversations and weekly chaburos or Shabbos meals with rebbeim, about rebbeim helping them with challenges after marriage, about rebbeim making their shidduchim, and more. Mark Gold, co-president of MAY, noted, “When I wanted to know how any of my many MAY graduate sons were doing in Israel, all I had to do is ask one of the senior rebbeim, who invariably had just spoken with him and was always up on his progress.”
How will MAY help a student who does not yet have good writing skills? A parent panelist noted, “MAY has adapted the curriculum to assign frequent essays and other writing assignments to build basic as well as advanced skills and to provide constructive criticism to facilitate revision. They also have numerous extracurricular writing outlets both in limudeikodesh and limudeichol. My son started out unable to write a quality essay and he ultimately met with tremendous success as a result of the MAY curriculum.”
How does MAY compare to the other yeshivos in our community? A member of the hanhalah responded, “There are many excellent local options. Each school has its own emphasis and areas in which it excels. MAY is uniquely outstanding in that it excels in limudei kodesh, limudei chol, and in extracurricular activities, and its relatively small size facilitates the extra attention and long-lasting relationships that help students of all capabilities succeed.”
One parent noted, “It’s clear that the rebbeim I spoke with have a very strong emotional connection with their talmidim and truly care about their success.” Another attendee’s comment really summed up the MAY experience: “MAY seems to have a lot to offer in limudeikodesh, general studies, and also in extracurricular activities. It’s a challenging high quality program that is very student-centric.”
The yeshiva’s talmidim really made the event a success. Visitors to the Ping-Pong Club’s display could challenge sophomores Baruch Kunstler and Yosef Hillel Kail. Visitors to the basketball courts contested some of Ateres Yaakov’s all-stars. The mesivta’s numerous chesed opportunities were represented by the MAY Lev Leytzan clowns, Yitzy Biderman and Tzvi Korman (with red clown noses in hand), blood-drive coordinators, JEP and Ohel Bais Ezra volunteers, and many other student representatives. Attendees picked up the mesivta’s Chesed Directory, listing the ample opportunity for chasadim available to its talmidim.
The Mesivta Publications booth was represented by the student monthly newsletter’s editor-in-chief, junior Baruch Eisenberger; editor of the popular weekly student Torah publication Ateres HaShavua, senior Yoel Weizberg; and authors and editors of the mesivta’s new creative-writing journal, Vision.
Athletics and competitions were represented by various members of the mesivta’s football, basketball, softball, volleyball, mock trial, and Torah bowl teams, as well as participants in the mesivta’s intramural hockey program, who were happy to show off the school’s many championship pennants.
The ample Torah lishmah opportunities were represented by regulars of the pre-Shacharis Cocoa Club, post-Shacharismishnayosshiur, 12th-grade additional bekiyus and night sedarim, ShnayimMikrah program, Shakla v’Tarya Ba’al Peh Club, bein ha’zmanim learning program, and voluntary Monday-night seder.
Applications for the 2015—16 z’man are now being accepted. For more information, call the yeshiva at 516-374-6465 or visit www.ateresyaakov.com.