By Rochelle Miller
Nestled on a beautiful new campus in Morasha, just outside of the Old City walls of Jerusalem, stands Yeshivas Mishkan HaTorah, a premier part-time yeshiva program in Eretz Yisroel for English-speaking talmidim.
Since its inception, the yeshiva has been the choice of many young men who have completed several years of full-time learning in yeshiva and seek to continue their growth in Torah and middos ensconced in the kedushah of Eretz Yisrael. Founded two years ago by Rav Michoel Feder and Rav Moshe Plaut, the yeshiva provides its students with a high level of Torah learning as well as the ability to attend many of the outstanding undergraduate and graduate programs for English speakers in Israel.
Both Rav Feder, rosh yeshiva, and Rav Plaut, mashgiach ruchani, are American olim who live with their respective families in Beitar Illit. Both have backgrounds in psychology, which they utilize in their endeavors to assist the young men in their program to acclimate and plan effectively for their futures.
Additionally, they are both talmidim of HaRav Yaakov Friedman, shlita, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Birchas Mordechai, where they studied for over a decade, and continue to benefit from his guidance.
A native of Woodmere, Rav Feder attended HAFTR High School and Yeshivat Sha’alvim. He received semichah from Yeshiva University while completing his graduate work in clinical school psychology from the City College of New York. Prior to studying under Rav Friedman, Rav Feder learned in Yeshivas Mir in Yerushalayim. He has served as a maggid shiur in Yeshivas Nesivos Ahron in Yerushalayim for nearly a decade. In addition, he has served as a therapist at Jerusalem’s Kav L’Noar and runs a private clinical practice.
Rav Feder is known for his dynamic shiur, bringing about great clarity to each sugya, as well as his incredible dedication to his talmidim.
Originally from Hillcrest, Queens, Rav Plaut attended Yeshivat Sha’arei Mevaseret Tzion in Israel after graduating from Yeshiva University’s MTA. After returning to the United States, he learned at Yeshivat Ohr HaChaim in Queens and earned a BA in psychology from Touro College. In Israel, Rav Plaut has taught at Yeshivat Aish HaTorah, both in the Beis Midrash and Gesher programs.
Rav Feder discussed the Yeshivas Mishkan HaTorah with the 5TJT during a recent visit to the tristate area.
Rochelle Maruch Miller: Rav Feder, why was Yeshivas Mishkan HaTorah founded?
Rav Michoel Feder: There are perhaps hundreds of boys who must decide each year between continuing to learn in Eretz Yisrael and returning to college in the States. In recent years, a number of excellent programs have been developed for English speakers to earn their graduate and undergraduate degrees in Israel. With many programs, such as JCT, Bar Ilan’s IMBA program, Touro Israel, and online degrees, a student can stay in Israel and earn an excellent degree, sometimes at a fraction of what it would cost in America. Yeshivos have approached us with advanced talmidim who want to remain in the kedushah of Eretz Yisrael while being financially responsible. The solution we presented them with was Mishkan HaTorah.
RMM: What is the range of the yeshiva’s student population?
Rav Feder: The range is great and our student population is eclectic. We have had boys from Mevaseret, Aish, Gesher, Lev HaTorah, Ohr Somayach, Derech, Tehillas Shlomo, and Birchas Mordechai. Many are from gap year programs who want to stay a second or third year but want to be responsible about their academic and career development. They all have in common a real desire to continue to grow in learning in Eretz Yisrael in a yeshiva that fits their new schedules. Some want to remain in Eretz Yisrael and some want to return, but all want the training to enter today’s competitive job market.
We also have some talmidim who are developing their own start-up businesses in the afternoons. These are all boys who wish to remain bnei Torah while being responsible about their career development.
RMM: What makes Yeshivas Mishkan HaTorah unique?
Rav Feder: The yeshiva offers a win-win situation for parents who want to see their sons thrive but worry about their career development. Many talmidim wish to return immediately after their year abroad. But some boys express concerns that they will compromise their ideals when they leave Eretz Yisrael. And it’s hard to watch a family feel torn just because they believe there is no alternative. Now there is another option. We have put together a team of top-notch mechanchim and work together with some of the most well-known academic programs for English speakers in Israel, some of whom have offered to schedule courses exclusively for our talmidim. The boys learn in the mornings and invest most of their afternoons and/or evenings in highlevel career development, often at a fraction of the cost of American universities. For many, it’s a fantastic solution to the challenge of how to guide our children in the post-gap year.
RMM: What message would you like to convey to our readers?
Rav Feder: These boys are a great investment. Many are preparing for successful careers in finance, the health professions, and technology. This yeshiva will be’H pay for itself as our alumni enter the workforce and begin to give back to the community at large. It also provides a unique opportunity for those students who don’t fit into the “learner vs. earner” box. It opens up options for the student who loves Eretz Yisrael and wants to remain in a real yeshiva environment that fits his changing schedule. Here he can continue growing with like-minded peers while developing a successful career.
Those interested in more information or in showing your support for Yeshivas Mishkan HaTorah may attend a parlor meeting graciously hosted by Alan and Tovi Horowitz this Sunday, February 16, at 7 p.m., at 850 Ibsen Street in Woodmere.
Rav Feder will speak briefly on the topic of learning and career development in Eretz Yisrael. For further information, please refer to the yeshiva’s ad in this issue of the 5TJT or call 718-362-8088.
Rochelle Maruch Miller is a contributing editor for the Five Towns Jewish Times. She is a journalist, creative media consultant, lecturer, and educator, and writes for magazines, newspapers, websites, and private clients. She welcomes your comments at Rochellemiller04@aol.com.