If you are among those who had the opportunity to attend the inaugural dinner for Yeshiva Ohr Hatzafun of Yerushalayim on Sunday, January 6, you were a part of something special. The dinner was held at Khal Nachlas Yitzchok, Rabbi Noach Oelbaum’s shul in Kew Gardens Hills. In addition to its being the yeshiva’s first dinner, it represented an important fact: The Ohr Hatzafun, or “hidden light,” is becoming increasingly difficult to conceal! Now in its fifth successful year, Ohr Hatzafun is making an indelible impression on the yeshiva landscape in Eretz Yisrael. The yeshiva has distinguished itself as a place that’s committed to “the whole talmid.” Acutely aware of the sensitive balance that one needs to cultivate for the optimum growth of a recent high-school graduate, the rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Dovid Blumberg, has constructed a program that offers excellence in personal development.
Rabbi Blumberg opened the night’s program by briefly describing the yeshiva’s core mission statement: To cultivate advanced learning skills in the talmidim and position them to achieve excellence and expertise in learning, while simultaneously facilitating a fluid integration of high levels of ruchniyus into their personalities. Following that, he introduced his rebbi, Rabbi Shaya Cohen, to address the crowd. Rabbi Cohen spoke fondly of the honorees and highlighted their bakashas ha’emes as powerful driving forces behind their success.
After being treated to a sumptuous first course, courtesy of Spencer’s Catering, Rabbi Blumberg continued the program with the award presentation to the Parents of the Year. Rabbi and Mrs. Matis Apel accepted the beautiful award and then the guests were treated to a special video message prepared by their son Shmuel. Seated comfortably within the yeshiva in Israel, Shmuel eloquently described his experiences at Ohr Hatzafun over the last three years. He painted the picture of a yeshiva that is ideal for a post-high-school student looking to dedicate himself to serious learning at his own pace. He concluded with heartfelt hakaras ha’tov to his rebbeim and parents for all of their nurturing and guidance.
After a short break for a delicious main course, Rabbi Blumberg presented the Guests of Honor with their award. Shlomo and Dina Silber are longtime friends of Rabbi Blumberg’s and that friendship was certainly evident at the dinner. Rabbi Blumberg related how “Bomo” is an individual with some very special qualities. Describing him as someone who can always be called on to “get the job done,” Rabbi Blumberg related that Bomo possesses great integrity and willingness to help in any way he possibly can, a true friend. After accepting the award, Bomo went on to address the crowd. He praised the yeshiva for its appreciation of the true needs of the talmidim and the proper methods to address those needs. He concluded by saying that he could think of no one better than his longtime friend, Rabbi Blumberg, to run the yeshiva.
Ohr Hatzafun is named after the famous compilation of the profound thought of the Alter of Slabodka, Rav Naftali Tzvi Finkel, zt’l. Any student of the Alter’s (and many of our previous gedolim were in fact students of his) recognizes that people are very complex and that the “business” of developing them is no simple matter. A yeshiva administration today must be in touch with this reality in order for their students to thrive. On the one hand, it’s not just about a blatt Gemara–one can learn a vast amount of information but remain largely unaffected in his pnimiyus. It is essential to have a rebbi who is sensitive to his talmid’s struggles and challenges, and who appreciates that his talmid must enjoy the learning experience. On the other hand, without the intense focus on the truth of Torah and the primacy of Torah study in daily life, the focus on character development lacks a proper context in which to thrive. This is a sensitive balance. It is a balance that Ohr Hatzafun understands and strives to maintain.
For more information about Yeshiva Ohr Hatzafun, call Rabbi Blumberg at 516-394-6151. v