By Shmuel Katz
Was this Tishrei not an overwhelming month? Are things back to “normal” in your house? One day of chag or two, this year’s calendar led to a dizzying pace of Shabbat to chag to Shabbat to chag, etc.—and then again to Shabbat. In fact, erev Shabbat Shuvah a local merchant (he runs “the Shabbat store”—a place to buy all your Shabbat needs under one roof, open only on Thursdays and Fridays) commented to Goldie that he couldn’t remember a Tishrei that had such a multitude of day on/day off for several years.
We had the additional benefit of an unexpected visit from Chaim, who had his shoulder surgery. Everything went well and he should be good as new within six months. But we all enjoyed having him with us for the six weeks he was here. We do not know when we will have such an extended time together in the future.
Yet all good things must come to an end (or at least a pause) until we celebrate the next. And this year is no exception. The chagim have ended and we have entered that time of year known in Israel as “after the chagim,” when most school learning is focused and when we have a nice large block of (mostly) uninterrupted working days.
I had been looking forward to getting used to my new job in the rebuilt Beit HaMikdash, whatever job I will be assigned. Unfortunately, we did not merit the rebuilding and I have to continue moving forward with my other new job at Yeshivat Migdal HaTorah. I am still excited to serve in the Beit HaMikdash with my fellow kohanim and the rest of Sheivet Levi, but we must still wait.
Thankfully, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, I have found work that will return me to the Torah/non-profit world in which I had worked for more than a decade, both here and in the USA. I sometimes wonder if anyone still reads my columns; but even if people don’t normally read them, I know that that column was well read, based upon the number of people who mentioned to me that “my parents/cousin/brother (etc.) told me they read in the paper you started a new job!” So thanks for continuing to read.
As I mentioned then, I had been looking around for a new opportunity for quite some time, taking on small projects until I found the right match. Although my ideal job would resemble my work at South Shore, those kinds of jobs are generally not available here because of the way that Israeli yeshivot divvy up their responsibilities. So I was just hoping for something close.
Then I met Rabbi Dr. Darrell Ginsberg, the menahel of Yeshivat Migdal HaTorah. Rabbi Ginsberg (and his family) made aliyah to Modiin a year ago with the goal of opening the yeshiva in August 2013. In our initial meeting, he told me how important it was to him and the rest of the administration that the yeshiva’s business and operations be run as a business would, with proper budgeting, forecasts, and reporting, and that they were looking for someone, like me, with experience in doing just that.
He actually takes the entire ideal a bit further. The yeshiva stresses the importance of earning a parnassah and enjoying a fulfilling career. Its message to students is that they must learn how to integrate a high level of Torah scholarship and continued Torah learning within the framework of their careers and the support of their families. And he intrigued me greatly when he told me that all the rebbeim of the yeshiva are employed with regular jobs in addition to their teaching in the yeshiva.
The need to support a family is becoming a major point of discussion in Israeli society, and the message of having a career and being a scholar is not new to Judaism. As I learned more about the yeshiva, I “bought in,” as it were, and after meeting Rabbi Shmuel David Chait, the mashgiach (and son of Rabbi Chaim Ozer Chait, who is returning to Israel from Virginia to take on the position of rosh yeshiva), we decided that we were a good fit and I am back to doing what I love—running the operations and being heavily involved in the management of a yeshiva.
When we made aliyah and I got my first job here, a good friend asked me what challenge I faced in the job, because I thrive on jobs that have challenges and in dealing with crisis. Starting a new program from scratch seems pretty challenging to me, and since this column is supposed to be a journal of our lives in Israel, you will share many of those challenges with me (along with what promises to be a very exciting and extremely confusing election cycle as Israel heads to elections).
One of the side benefits is that I will soon resume a regular international travel schedule. I am involved in recruiting and fundraising, and I will also work with alumni (when we have them). I actually enjoy travel and the chance to visit friends and family—and make new friends—so this works for me too.
In fact, I plan to be in New York this November for the “Israel night” programs in the various high schools. So I look forward to seeing you then. Until then, Rabbi Ginsberg and Rabbi Chait are currently in the New York region, visiting various high schools in the area. If you want to learn more about the yeshiva, there is a parlor meeting on Monday night, October 22, in West Hempstead. See the ad on page 24 for details—or send me an e‑mail; I’d love to hear from you.
Shmuel Katz is the executive director of Yeshivat Migdal HaTorah (www.migdalhatorah.org), a gap-year yeshiva opening in 2013. Shmuel, his wife Goldie, and their six children made aliyah in July of 2006. Before making aliyah, he was the executive director of the Yeshiva of South Shore in Hewlett. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.