Tee For Torah
Hebrew Academy of Long Beach hosted its first golf invitational at the Inwood Country Club on Sunday, May 19. The event was chaired by Ron Friedman and David Lyons. The event committee was Ron Deutsch, Josh Greenbaum, Yehuda Konig, and Aaron Wexler. Over 100 people attended the event, which raised money to support HALB’s scholarship efforts. HALB appreciated the efforts of everyone who participated and all the sponsors who made the event a huge success. v
MAY Wins YI Basketball Championship
In their second season with the National Council of Young Israel’s Basketball League, the Junior Varsity Ateres Yaakov Eagles once again took home the intermediate division (9th and 10th grades) championship. The championship culminated an intense 10-game season in which the Eagles finished with a division-leading 9–1 record.
“We promote healthy outlets for our talmidim whenever and wherever we can,” commented Rabbi Yossi Bennett, assistant menahel and athletic director at MAY. “When we got wind of this league last year and the kosher, efficient, and professional way in which it was run, we decided to join on the intermediate level. This year we added a varsity team as well. Both teams had incredible seasons, which served as excellent outlets for our talmidim.”
Expertly coached by alumnus and talmid of Ateres Yaakov’s Yeshiva Gedolah Josh Friedman, together with Zev Teitelbaum of Yeshiva Gedolah of the Five Towns, the team proved to be a “force to be reckoned with” throughout the entire season. After a playoff win against Yeshivas Heichal HaTorah of Teaneck, NJ, the Eagles were slated to take on the Young Israel of Manhattan in the championship game.
The game quickly developed into an intense matchup between the two top teams in the league. At the close of the first half, YIM had a 4-point lead over MAY. But, as the second half progressed and the MAY fans got more involved, the tram began to pull away and at the close, the final tally was 65–54. Eagles captain Yossi Malek, a 10th-grader, led the team in scoring and led the Eagles in their amazing first season.
Rabbi Bennett remarked, “We are so proud of our talmidim, both for the incredible commitment and dedication they demonstrated to their team, but more so for the mentchlich and classy manner in which they conducted themselves.” v
Rambam Honors Masmidim And Their Parents
Over 45 Rambam talmidim learn Torah at least an extra two and a half hours each week after school and during lunch to be part of the Rambam Mesivta masmidim program. While that is the minimum requirement, most of the talmidim learn even more.
To recognize and celebrate the learning and the talmidim, the masmidim and their parents were invited to an evening of divrei Torah and delicious food at Hapina. The night was emceed by one of the architects of the program, assistant principal Hillel Goldman, who thanked not only the talmidim for learning, but the parents who made this possible through the carpooling and their inspiration. Night learning rebbeim Rabbi Yaacov Weisenberg and Rabbi Yitzy Werblowsky shared words of chizuk and Torah, highlighting the centrality of learning in Judaism and appreciating that it is a beautiful thing to see people come together to celebrate Torah. Rabbi Avi Haar, one of the heads of the masmidim program, also spoke about how meaningful the learning was and how important it is that it should continue.
The rebbeim—Rabbi Yosef Ziskind, Rabbi Jonathan Muskat, Rabbi Ari Boiangiu, and Rabbi Haar—were also lauded for being available to learn with the talmidim Monday through Thursday during lunch.
It was a night filled with singing, divrei Torah, and a chevrah that was created around a common bond of appreciation and love of learning that exemplifies the Rambam Mesivta’s commitment to Torah, middos, and excellence. v
IDF Receives Shulamith Students’ Gifts
On Yom HaAtzmaut, the students of Shulamith Middle Division assembled packages of personal-care items for chayalim. During a recent trip to Israel, eighth-grader Shoshana Farber and her family had the opportunity to deliver some of those packages.
Mr. Farber writes, “We went to Kever Rachel this morning. We first stopped at the Mishmar Hagvul base . . . They were very happy with the packages. We gave some out and left one duffel (of packages) there. Then we went to the Kever and gave the other duffel. We couldn’t give them out individually since rock-throwing suddenly started, but before we left we spent some time with the soldiers since things calmed down.”
It is easy for us to forget the sacrifices chayalei Tzahal make for our Holy Land and our people on a daily basis. In sending these packages, the students and faculty of Shulamith have indicated, albeit in a small way, their enormous gratitude for all of our chayalim. v
Goldfeder Urges Insurance Companies To Prepare
In an effort to continue to hold insurance companies accountable in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, NYS Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder has called on all top insurance carriers to provide an update on their disaster response measures taken and contingency plans for residents to prepare for potential future storms.
“Worse than the destructive path of Sandy was the complicated insurance process that followed,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “Our families’ recovery should not be delayed because companies are overwhelmed and confused by their own policies and regulations. Many insurance carriers agreed to streamline their service and create more transparency after Sandy and now it’s time to hear the changes they made.”
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder sent a letter inviting all the major insurance carriers to discuss their policy improvements at a public forum and educate residents on their own insurance coverage in the event of another disaster. When Sandy hit in 2012, thousands of Queens families and businesses were destroyed and held in limbo for months by the same insurance companies that were supposed to be helping them rebuild. “We must ensure these companies have put in place the necessary changes to prepare themselves and their customers for future disasters,” Goldfeder noted.
“After a storm, the last thing a homeowner needs is to struggle with their insurance carrier. This should be the easy part of recovery. I am curious to see how much change they are willing to implement,” said Jonathan Gaska, district manager of Community Board 14.
In June 2013, Assemblyman Goldfeder and his colleagues passed a comprehensive Sandy insurance legislative package to reform the insurance process and hold insurance companies to a higher standard of accountability. Included in the package was the homeowner’s bill of rights, which would educate consumers about property and casualty insurance coverage, provide them with easy-to-understand policies, and require the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to establish a Consumer’s Guide on Insuring Against Catastrophic Loss.
“We can’t prevent another disaster, but we can help ensure that our families and businesses are protected from any unfair insurance practices,” concluded Goldfeder. “This is one step that will help educate our community and continue to hold insurance companies accountable. I strongly urge all insurance carriers to attend my public forum and immediately provide an update on how they intend to help customers in the event of another disaster.” v
MAY’s Annual Spring Shabbaton
On Shabbos Parashas Bamidbar, Mesivta Ateres Yaakov held its annual spring Shabbaton on the beautiful campus of Camp Romimu in Monticello. The Shabbaton was a resounding success, replete with tremendous growth in ruchniyus, achdus, ahavas Hashem, and ahavas haTorah.
From start to finish, the Shabbaton was an inspiring, exciting, and stimulating weekend. The mesivta invited Rav Yehoshua Kurland, shlita, noted speaker, author, ba’al tefilah, and maggid shiur in Yeshivas Sh’or Yoshuv, as their guest for Shabbos. Rav Kurland helped set the tone for the Shabbos, describing the incredible inspiration that could be gleaned from even one special Shabbos. A dynamic kabbalas Shabbos ensued with enthusiastic singing and dancing, a fitting way to bring in this Shabbos.
The leibudikeit, which continued throughout the Shabbos, was unparalleled, with incredible singing and dancing at all meals. Rav Kurland spoke throughout Shabbos, captivating the talmidim more and more with each one of his derashos. He creatively and carefully clarified and illuminated many aspects of Yiddishkeit using his signature, colorful array of mashalim, stories, and jokes.
As an added dimension to the Shabbaton, the mesivta once again invited a group of developmentally disabled individuals from the Otzar Chevra to join them for Shabbos. Student activities coordinator Rabbi Shlomo Drebin, who singlehandedly organized the entire Shabbaton, remarked, “We were offered this special opportunity and we were thrilled to include them. As is always the case with our other achdus initiatives, it was a unique and meaningful experience for both the Otzar Chevra and the mesivta talmidim.
Motzaei Shabbos sports, including the annual varsity versus junior varsity softball game, were followed by a barbecue melaveh malkah and a stirring bonfire kumzits that capped off an amazing Shabbos. Sunday morning, as has become the tradition on the MAY Spring Shabbaton, eight seniors delivered self-prepared chaburos to the younger shiurim on topics including: Earning Money on Shabbos, Guarding One’s Speech, Mashiach, and Kibbud Av v’Eim. The beautiful weather allowed the talmidim and rebbeim to make great use of the camp’s recreational facilities and was a great finish to a wonderful weekend! v
HAFTR Hosts CIJE Young Engineers Conference
Nearly 550 young engineers displayed their new devices, sensors, and robotic innovations at the largest Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education (CIJE) Young Engineers Conference, held at the Hebrew Academy of Five Towns and Rockaway on Wednesday, May 21. Ninth- and tenth-grade participants from 19 tristate area schools packed the HAFTR Middle School gym to exhibit and demonstrate more than 100 capstone engineering projects.
“I was overwhelmed by the level of complexity, thought, and work that went into these innovations using engineering principles they learned in the CIJE-Tech High School Engineering Program,” said Judy Lebovits, vice president and director of the program. “The teachers and CIJE engineering mentors that visit every class should be proud of how well their project-based education approach is working.”
The CIJE-Tech High School Engineering Program (CIJE-Tech) is a national, two-year course in scientific and biomedical engineering for high school students. CIJE-Tech exposes high school students to a diverse range of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers. A discovery-based STEM education program, developed in collaboration with Israel Sci-Tech, CIJE-Tech provides teacher training, ongoing teacher mentoring, as well as engineering laboratory equipment and materials.
Following their group project presentations to visitors and fellow students, Google Technical Lead/Manager, Dr. Joel Wein, Ph.D, addressed the entire group about their skills and future engineering opportunities.
“This was an extremely impressive event with projects that demonstrated a great grasp of engineering concepts and skills way beyond the abilities of high school students,” said Dr. Wein. “At Google and nationwide, we need more great engineers, and we need to build a really great pipeline from K-12 and up. The CIJE-Tech Program is focused on ensuring that yeshiva and Jewish day school children will have the opportunity to be a vital part of that process, and it is wonderful to see.”
“Kids today are lacking STEM skills, which is precisely where the careers are going to be in the future,” said Judy Lebovits, vice president of CIJE. “Our programs are unique to the U.S. and in day schools with a focus on developing a generation of men and women who can be successful in STEM academically and professionally.”
Also addressing the students in the filled-to-capacity gym, CIJE President Jason Cury said, “Whether you are planning on pursuing a career in engineering, a STEM-based position, or virtually any area, you have demonstrated today with these projects, that you have the problem solving and creative skills to make you successful in 21st century careers.” v
Our Men In Blue Get
The Nassau County Auxiliary Police had its annual awards and promotion ceremony on April 8 at Nassau County Police headquarters in Mineola. Danny Gluck, commanding officer of the Fourth Precinct Auxiliary Police, was promoted to deputy inspector (from captain) and also received an award for the most hours performed in the county. Deputy Inspector Gluck also sits on the board of directors for the Nassau County Auxiliary Police, which controls the day-to-day operation for the program.
Congratulations also go to Sgt. David Spier, who was promoted to Lieutenant. Lt. Spier is also a deputy commanding officer and put in over 500 hours in 2013.
The Fourth Precinct Auxiliary has more than 14 officers who received awards for 2013—the most in the county. It is the fastest-growing precinct in the county and the most active, with over 10 shomer Shabbos officers. They are always looking for new volunteers. If interested, please call DI Gluck at 516-522-5395.
Rav Kook Returns
His cell phone rang and before the caller uttered a word, Rabbi Friedman said, “Shalom alecheim, b’kavod gadol, when will Rav Kook be able to speak to our talmidim?”
Rav Simcha HaKohen Kook has a long-standing relationship with Rambam, having visited and spoken at the mesivta for close to two decades. Rav Kook was on the mesivta’s original vaad hachinuch when it was founded 23 years ago. Rav Kook always has a very busy schedule when he comes to the States, speaking at many schools and organizations. He always makes a point to visit and speak to the boys at Rambam.
On Wednesday, 28 Iyar, Yom Yerushalayim, Rav Kook entered the shul and all assembled stood up. He spoke passionately about kedushat Yerushalayim and its significance to Klal Yisrael. He spoke about the history of Yerushalayim and the attempts of many nations to conquer and settle it. He recounted the events that took place during the siege of the city in 1948 and the role he played in trying to defend the city. Current political realities were addressed and Rav Kook shared some information and perspectives that he said he was not normally comfortable sharing. The boys were transfixed as Rav Kook spoke about Kever Dovid and the pressure that the Pope and the Catholic Church were exerting to assert rights over that site. It was clear from his words that every attempt to do so must be actively resisted. “Allowing the church to control the area and pray there would make it halachically impossible for the makom Torah that currently exists there to remain,” said Rav Kook.
Towards the end of his remarks, he began to sing “V’leYerushalayim Ircha b’Rachamim Tashuv,” and all the boys joined in. He concluded with a special berachah for all of the talmidim, hoping to see the boys once again next year . . . in Yerushalayim habenuyah! v
LCM Unique Model Beis Din Competition
The Beis Medrash L’Talmud—Lander College for Men (LCM) held its inaugural Model Beis Din competition for high-school students in the tri-state area. The tournament invited teams to the Kew Gardens Hills campus to match wits with regard to the Jewish legal ramifications of a complex halachic quandary. The teams representing the Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck, New Jersey, and Rambam Mesivta in Lawrence came in first and second place, respectively. Students from Mesivta Ateres Yaakov, also in Lawrence, and the Jewish Educational Center from Elizabeth, New Jersey, also participated.
“The Model Beis Din was an exciting and creative way of demonstrating the dynamic nature of halachah—how the Torah can inform and confront moral and legal challenges in the most sophisticated way,” said Rabbi Yonason Sacks, esteemed rosh yeshiva of the Beis Medrash L’Talmud. “I was quite impressed with the students’ presentations and am confident that they found this forum to be a most enriching experience.”
The innovative competition centered around “The Case of the Poisoned Sandwich,” a well-known but unconfirmed story in which a bullied high-school student put a poisonous substance in his lunch, knowing full well that it would be stolen by his tormentor. Even if the accuracy of the story is in doubt, the case introduced a controversial halachic dilemma about an individual’s right to self-defense in such a scenario, which motivated the students to not only delve into the facts of the case, but the halachic ramifications as well.
At the start of the program, each team presented their arguments, either defending or condemning the actions of the bullied student, to three “judges” from the Beis Medrash L’Talmud—Rabbi Chaim Kirschenbaum, Rabbi Ephraim Tanenbaum, and Rabbi Sacks. To simulate the case, members of the teams played the parts of the victim-turned-aggressor, who explained why he was permitted to poison the sandwich under Jewish law, and the bully. After a representative delivered a concluding statement with what his squad believed to be the correct halachah, the judges questioned the team members about how they arrived at their p’sak.
Because the matter is subject to debate amongst the poskim, the finalists were chosen based on the quality of the presentations and their mastery of the different opinions and Talmudic sources as related to this case, and based on how well they supported their conclusions. The final round was in a debate format—including opening statements, rebuttals, and closing arguments—with a coin flip deciding which position each team would take.
The teams offered varying opinions with regard to the guilt or innocence of the offending student. Some argued that the poisoning was warranted as a way to teach the bully the error of his ways or that the intent was not to do harm, as he presented the antidote as soon as the bully took ill, according to the account of the story. Others argued that his actions were reckless because he had no way of knowing if he would be with the bully at the time and able to give him the antidote.
“What was fascinating was that there was such a mix of opinions,” said LCM coordinator of admissions and community programming Rabbi Josh Sturm, one of the organizers of the Model Beis Din. “The level of scholarship on display was amazing and everyone was extremely well prepared. What’s more, before the final round, the teams had just a few minutes to organize their arguments and then they were off and running.”
TABC and Rambam Mesivta were awarded plaques and the recently published Dirshu editions of the Mishnah Berurah. Every participant received all seven volumes of Rabbi Sacks’s commentary on Pirkei Avos. Over the course of the day, Dr. Sokol spoke about the synthesis of halachah and everyday life, Rabbi Sacks discussed Kiddush Hashem and its relation to the Jewish legal system, and Prof. David J. Kirschner, a professor of business at LCM and a practicing attorney, talked about the distinctions between the Jewish and secular approaches to law.
“Halachah addresses the most surprising corners of human life. These students rose to the challenge and applied their learning and ingenuity to a disturbing case study,” said Dr. Moshe Sokol, dean of LCM. “They and their rebbeim are to be congratulated.”
The Lander College for Men is an undergraduate division of Touro College. Established in the fall of 2000 and located in Queens, the Lander College for Men is grounded in a dual curriculum of intensive Torah study and a wide range of academic programs, and students major in professionally oriented disciplines. v