By Leah Goldman
With over 250 students, 70 kollel members, and 250 chavrusa partners, the hallways, batei midrash, and classrooms pulsate with activity. Students from across the spectrum of Jewish life and from around the globe find a commonality in Sh’or Yoshuv as they learn to see the radiance and grandeur of their own potential. In an environment that encourages each student to grow at his own pace and embrace his uniqueness, the differences between the students are not only respected but celebrated. A number of students arrived from Belarus this year without family, barely able to speak English and completely unfamiliar with the culture. Warmly welcomed into the yeshiva, they quickly integrated and are growing beautifully, both scholastically and spiritually.
With the vision to champion the uniqueness of every individual and employ that uniqueness in the service of Hashem, Rabbi Shlomo Freifeld, zt’l, opened the doors of Sh’or Yoshuv nearly five decades ago. The yeshiva began with a handful of students and Reb Shlomo’s revolutionary educational philosophy. Now, more than 45 years later, Sh’or Yoshuv has transformed the demographic landscape of Far Rockaway and the Five Towns. Under the helm of the rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Naftali Jaeger, and the menahel, Rabbi Avrohom Halpern, Sh’or Yoshuv has become a springboard for personal growth, scholarship, and Jewish commitment for thousands.
The dedicated staff, many of whom were students of Reb Shlomo, continue his legacy of cultivating a deep and meaningful relationship with each student. The rebbeim have mastered the skill of discovering the exact key needed to unlock souls so they can recognize the joy and fulfillment in a lifelong commitment to Judaism. Under the watchful and nurturing attention of their rebbeim, students undergo remarkable transformations.
With a finger on the pulse of the Jewish community, the Tal Techiya program was established a few years ago, tailored to young men enrolled in full-time university programs or working full-time as well as those seeking a small and personal beis midrash environment. Under the direction of the hanhalah and Rabbi Donnie Drandoff, the atmosphere in the Tal Techiya program is extremely welcoming, inviting, warm, and joyous–built on the formation of a personal rebbi-talmid relationship. Customized to the students’ individual schedules, the learning time can be half an hour, two hours, or whatever the student desires. The ten mentors and tutors in the program provide individual attention, and breakfast and refreshments are offered. Students spend Shabbosos together, have retreats, go on trips, have kumsitzes, and receive visits from leading Torah personalities. “The program is immensely successful and continues to grow all the time,” says Rabbi Halpern. “We are seeing that when a young man feels attached to a rebbi and part of a yeshiva, he wants to make limud haTorah a part of his day and of his life.”
Sh’or Yoshuv continues to lead many outreach initiatives. The Introductory program, under Rabbi Eli Kutner, has more than 25 students, who are getting their first taste of studying in a yeshiva setting and their first exposure to living authentic Torah Judaism. The program aims to take participants with no formal Jewish education and assist them in their quest to connect with their heritage on a deep and meaningful level. A number of the participants from last year have already “graduated” into other beis midrash programs in Sh’or Yoshuv. In addition, many kollel members and students are heavily involved in kiruv projects throughout the area. Sh’or Yoshuv hosts 15—20 Shabbatonim for college students, many of whom either decide to join the Introductory program or pursue Jewish studies in Israel.
In addition, many programs are offered through the Community Learning Center, including yomei iyun, n’shei shiurim, etc. There are more than 150 classes, throughout the week and on Shabbos, from early morning until late at night. In the predawn hours, the sounds of Torah learning resonate loud and strong throughout the beis midrash as the members of the kollel boker come to Sh’or Yoshuv for the early-morning learning programs and to infuse their day with Torah. In the evenings, the alumni chaburah offers past students an opportunity to continue their learning and keep in touch with each other.
But the community programs don’t end there. In our fast-paced world, where parents spend long and demanding hours out of the house making a living, there can be a breakdown in family relationships. Sh’or Yoshuv offers a salve for this modern malady. Every Motzaei Shabbos, the beis midrash comes alive with the rich sounds of fathers and sons engaged in Torah learning. Under the guidance of Rabbi Azi Bodner, the hugely successful avos u’banim program caters to 200 participants. Following the father—son learning time, the fathers enjoy a stimulating shiur by the rosh yeshiva while the sons enjoy pizza and some ball-playing in the gym.
Beyond the walls of the yeshiva, some of the rebbeim and students bring Sh’or Yoshuv’s warmth and unbridled enthusiasm for Torah learning to Camp Mogen Avraham each summer. That tiny taste of recognizing each individual’s potential travels with the campers back to their homes and energizes them to grow more and achieve more as they return to school.
Throughout the year, Sh’or Yoshuv stands as a Torah center and beacon of inspiration to the surrounding Five Towns/Far Rockaway community. Now is the time for the community to show its support to Sh’or Yoshuv. Sh’or Yoshuv invites you to celebrate almost five decades of Torah education and community service at the 47th Annual Dinner, to be held on Saturday evening, December 14, at the Sands at Atlantic Beach. The encouragement and support of the community enable Sh’or Yoshuv to continue its vital work and to touch the lives of many more young people and families.
This year, Sh’or Yoshuv is paying tribute to three alumni who exemplify the values of commitment to Torah learning and community involvement. Rabbi and Mrs. Zev Freundlich will receive the Rabbi Shlomo Freifeld Memorial Award. Rabbi Freundlich has adopted Sh’or Yoshuv’s distinct educational philosophy in his own yeshiva, Mesivta Shaarei Arazim, in Monsey. Marc and Sharon Friedman will receive the Kesser Shem Tov Award. Pesach and Matty Sod will receive the Community Service Award. Sh’or Yoshuv looks forward to an outpouring of support from the community. The deadline for ads is December 5. For more information, please call Sh’or Yoshuv at 516-239-9002. Responses can be eâ€‘mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 516-239-9003. v