Yeshiva Gedolah of the Five Towns hosted its 17th annual breakfast for the Woodmere community on June 23. The breakfast is an opportunity to highlight what the yeshiva is accomplishing in the community and for individuals in our neighborhood. Despite the myriad of events that were going on that morning, as well as being the week where families were transitioning into “camp mode,” there was a beautiful turnout with standing room only. After the recitation of a perek of Tehillim, the program was introduced by the executive director of the yeshiva, Baruch Moskowitz, who compared the yeshiva to a cholent. The flavor of the cholent is created in large part by the overnight cooking — so, too, the flavor of the bnei Torah and ba’alei batim in the yeshiva is created by their time spent “cooking” in the Torah atmosphere of the yeshiva.
He then introduced Josh Sarner, the Kesser HaTorah Awardee, who is a dedicated member of Rav Meir Kotowitz’s iyun chaburah. Josh noted that the lighting of the menorah created an eternal hashpa’ah in being a source for the light of Torah, comparing that to the yeshiva which is that source for the community. Josh expressed how his involvement in this chaburah has changed his life. He invited and encouraged others to join in and enjoy the experience.
The rosh yeshiva, Rav Katzenstein, shlita, then spoke about the ingredients for creating the consistency that the parashah highlights about Aharon HaKohen; dedication, focus, and willingness to sacrifice oneself for learning. The rosh yeshiva then introduced R’ Danny Mergi to accept the Yedid HaTorah Award. Danny was proud to make a siyum on Maseches Makkos and challenged the audience to partner with him by sponsoring the siyum for the yeshiva. Danny spoke about what the yeshiva means to both him and his family. At the direction of Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlita, he and his family were told to move to the Five Towns, where they have found beautiful places to learn and daven. Danny specifically mentioned his chavrusa, R’ Hershel Yaffe, who is an inspiration to him.
The final honor of Amud HaTorah was presented to R’ Allon Waltuch. Allon can be found in the yeshiva early in the morning and late at night. Allon, in accepting the award, described the lighting of the menorah that allows for flame to rise on its own and, when it does, it is an aliyah for that person. He expressed the same sentiment as the other honorees that this is not about their honor but about hakaras ha’tov for the yeshiva.
The breakfast featured a truly warm atmosphere enhanced by the catering of Mark Gross and Sharmel Caterers. It was a successful event for the yeshiva that proliferated kavod haTorah through extremely deserving individuals.