By Chaia Frishman
The young man who stands before you is a welcome sight. He makes your life easier, safer, and more beautiful. He might install your dishwasher, fix your computer, or build you custom bookcases. Best of all, he is a product of your community. He is a Weiss Vocational Center graduate.
An offshoot of the Rabenstein Learning Center, the Weiss Vocational Center is the brainchild of Rabbi Yaakov Bender, Darchei Torah’s rosh hayeshiva; and Mr. Ronald Lowinger, the yeshiva’s president; who wanted to provide an afternoon option for talmidim whose proclivities tend to the vocational trades. After studying with their rebbeim and peers in their morning shiur and three general-studies periods, talmidim in the program learn trades including electrical construction, plumbing, carpentry, home wiring, and automobile repair, amongst others.
This year’s breakfast to benefit both the Rabenstein Learning Center—which serves Yeshiva Darchei Torah talmidim with special-education needs through one-on-one tutoring and self-contained classes—and the Weiss Vocational Center, was held at the home of Yosef and Faigy Lowinger on a beautiful sunny morning this past Sunday.
The guests were welcomed by their host, Yosef, who likened being a struggling student to sitting in a room with a teacher who only spoke Chinese. The student doesn’t only feel alone because he can’t comprehend the teacher, but sits with the shame that his classmates do understand and he doesn’t belong.
Rabbi Yaakov Bender continued with this idea in discussing why the word “se’u” is used to say “count” in the parashiyos before Shavuos. According to Rav Moshe Feinstein, he explained, “We use the terminology of count that also means ‘to uplift.’ A child can get lost and ask: Where do I belong? When it comes to Torah, every Jew counts, and when he learns, he gets elevated. Count, se’u, in a way that he will get elevated.” The way to do that is to include him in the yeshiva. That can be done by helping him to learn the best way he can though the Rabenstein Learning Center, and training him to develop a productive talent that makes him a part of the community. When he feels good about himself he will start feeling good about learning again.
The guest speaker, Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, rav of Agudas Yisroel Beis Binyomin in Brooklyn, encapsulated this concept when he remarked: “Take a boy who is failing and give him chiyus; that person is greater than a navi.” He added, “Harness the natural resources of life to build kids from within and make life geshmak for them—that is Rabbi Bender.”
A special moment in the program came when an alumnus of the Weiss Vocational Center, Mordechai Yormark, spoke. Mordechai entered yeshiva in seventh grade and graduated Mesivta Chaim Shlomo in 2009. He began working as an apprentice and currently is employed by a company that installs security systems in nursing homes in the Tri-State area. He attended the program with his wife, whom he married in January.
The inspiration of the breakfast was seeing the two programs’ successes, welcoming all their supporters, and envisioning future success that is sure to come from a hub of Torah and chesed in our community that always puts the children first. v