It was standing room only at the Mesivta Ateres Yaakov Open House this past Sunday, as the yeshiva hosted nearly 100 prospective students, along with their parents, all eager to learn all about the “MAY Experience.” In the yeshiva’s beautiful facilities and with the faculty and staff present to answer questions, the day’s program was an opportunity to educate parents and students about the mission of the yeshiva.
It was a busy, exciting, and educational experience that included informative panels, video displays, passionate presentations, engaging dialogue, Torah brainteasers, team-building exercises, raffles, a gala luncheon, prizes, an elaborate student fair, slushies, competitions, and more.
Upon arrival, attendees were warmly greeted by the MAY hanhalah, its talented and dedicated faculty, and scores of student and parent volunteers. Guests were ushered into the elaborate student fair, where a multitude of booths, manned by current Ateres Yaakov talmidim, described many of the school’s extracurricular programs.
The menahel, Rabbi Mordechai Yaffe, addressed the crowd in the expansive beis midrash. He explained, “The goal in a yeshiva high school extends far beyond the high school years. The ultimate purpose is to build better husbands, fathers, and ovdei Hashem. Therefore, everything that occurs within the yeshiva is aimed at facilitating that goal.” Rabbi Yaffe concluded his remarks by clearly explaining each phrase of the mesivta’s slogan, “Rabbeim for Life. Education for Life. Torah for Life.” Rabbi Yaffe’s address was followed by an emotionally charged, informative video presentation that immersed the guests virtually in the mesivta experience.
Following the video presentation, the students then enjoyed a “mad science” presentation with MAY’s award-winning master science teacher Joseph Malizia, team-building activities with director of student activities Rabbi Shlomo Drebin and eleventh-grade rebbe Rabbi Yehoshua Robinson, stimulating, brainteasing shiurim delivered by ninth- and tenth-grade rebbeim, and a Q & A About MAY moderated by assistant menahel/assistant principal Rabbi Yossi Bennett. The afternoon concluded with a delicious Chinese buffet and Benny Miller winning the grand raffle.
Parents attended panel discussions focusing on limudei kodesh, general studies, parents, and alumni. Prospective parents asked current parents and panelists a variety of questions and received enthusiastic responses. These included:
Are the rebbeim really involved in the lives of the talmidim even after graduation? Alumni talked about their many experiences receiving weekly calls in Israel from multiple members of the faculty, about rebbeim helping them with challenges after marriage, about rebbeim making their shidduchim, and more. Mark Gold, co-president of MAY, noted, “When I wanted to know how any of my many MAY graduate sons were doing in Israel, all I had to do is ask one of the senior rebbeim, who invariably had just spoken with him and was always up on his progress.”
How will MAY help a student who does not yet have good writing skills? A parent panelist noted, “MAY has adapted the curriculum to assign frequent essays and other writing assignments to build basic as well as advanced skills and to provide constructive criticism to facilitate revision. My son started out unable to write a quality essay and he ultimately met with tremendous success as a result of the MAY curriculum.”
How does MAY compare to the other yeshivos in our community? A member of the hanhalah responded, “There are many excellent local options. Each school has its own emphasis and areas in which it excels. MAY is uniquely outstanding in that it excels in limudei kodesh, limudei chol, and extracurricular activities, and its relatively small size facilitates the extra attention that helps students of all capabilities succeed.”
One parent noted, “It’s clear that the rebbeim I spoke with have a very strong emotional connection with their talmidim and truly care about their success.” Another attendee’s comment really summed up the MAY Experience: “MAY seems to have a lot to offer in limudei kodesh, general studies, and also in extracurricular activities. It’s a challenging high quality program that is very student-centric.”
The yeshiva’s talmidim really made the event a success. Visitors to the ping-pong club’s display could challenge sophomore Baruch Kunstler. The mesivta’s numerous chesed opportunities were represented by the MAY Lev Leytzan clowns, Yitzy Biderman, Tzvi Korman, and Avi Schwartzblatt, blood-drive coordinators, JEP volunteers, and many other student representatives. Attendees picked up the mesivta’s chesed books, listing the ample opportunity for different chasadim available to its talmidim. The mesivta publications booth was represented by the school student newsletter editor-in-chief, senior Daniel Alon, and editor of the popular weekly student Torah publication Ateres HaShavua, senior Yehuda Auerbach. Athletics and competitions were represented by various members of the mesivta’s football, basketball, softball, volleyball, mock trial, and Torah bowl teams, as well as participants in the mesivta’s intramural hockey program, who were happy to show off the school’s many championship pennants! The ample Torah Lishma opportunities were represented by regulars of the pre-Shacharis Cocoa Club and Gemara shiur, the Lunch and Learn tefilah shiur, the senior additional bikiyus seder, and the voluntary Monday night seder, which over 120 boys attend each week.
Applications for the 2014–2015 z’man are now being accepted. For more information, contact the yeshiva at 516-374-6465 or visit www.ateresyaakov.com. v