An enthusiastic crowd comprising hundreds of rebbeim, talmidim, yeshiva families, and distinguished guests welcomed a new Sephardic Sefer Torah to Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway this month, the first event of its kind in the yeshiva’s history.
The Sefer Torah, which is being used by the yeshiva’s Sephardic minyan, was presented by Mr. and Mrs. Shelomo Sarway. At the seudat mitzvah that day, Shelomo, an alumnus of the Yeshiva’s Mesivta Chaim Shlomo and Beis Medrash Heichal Dovid divisions, recalled his mother’s exhortation to him when he first set off for out-of-town yeshiva more than two decades ago: “Remember where you come from.” Mr. Sarway affirmed that today he still remembers where he comes from — including not only his family’s proud Sephardic lineage but also his formative years of Torah learning and development as a ben Torah at his alma mater, Yeshiva Darchei Torah.
Rav Daniel Gavrielov, an assistant menahel at the yeshiva who recently assumed the role of rav of the Sephardic minyan, spoke of the sofrim — the scribes — who write sifrei Torah, and their corresponding “scribes” of the heart and soul, the rebbeim who imprint the indelible lessons of the Torah onto the neshamos of their talmidim. Just as a sefer Torah is invalid if even one letter is defective, the “scribes” of Yeshiva Darchei Torah, led by the rosh yeshiva, Rav Yaakov Bender, understand that a yeshiva is incomplete if even one student is unable to unlock his full potential. He expressed his hope that the new Sefer Torah would be a catalyst for the continued growth and positive impact that the Sephardic minyan is already having on the Sephardic talmidim. (Yeshiva Darchei Torah includes close to 100 Sephardic families, from early childhood through beis midrash.)
The last speaker at the seudah was Rav Yaakov Bender, who thanked the Sarway and Ghermezian families for the hachnasat sefer Torah and for their support of the yeshiva. He fondly recalled Darchei’s first influx of Sephardic talmidim from Iran during the turbulent revolution of 1979. From that day on, the yeshiva has continuously welcomed boys of Sephardic heritage, consistent with its well-deserved reputation as a makom Torah where excellence in Torah, middos, and academics is complemented by an inclusionary ethos.
Perhaps the most poignant moment of the day was when the new Torah was about to be brought in to the edifice of Mesivta Chaim Shlomo and it was greeted by bachurim holding the yeshiva’s Ashkenazi Sifrei Torah — a snapshot of unity when all the scrolls, which contain the same exact sacred words, albeit with different scripts and encasements, came together to complete a celebration of the one eternal Torah that unites all Jews.