Mr. and Mrs. Menachem Marx: Guests of Honor. Over the course of a warm 15-year relationship with Yeshiva Darchei Torah, Menachem and Gila Marx have taken the concept of loyalty and devotion to unprecedented heights, as the proud parents of four YDT current and former students.
An active member of the board of directors as well as other communal organizations, and a major donor to all yeshiva campaigns, Mr. Marx played a critical role in the construction of the yeshiva’s beautiful new complex. “Menachem was instrumental in a creative fundraising venture that marshaled a sizable portion of the resources needed to bring the dream to fruition,” relates Lloyd Keilson, cochairman of the board of trustees. “In addition, he was actively engaged on the ground, involving himself almost daily in the actual construction, from selecting a leading architectural firm to helping define the yeshiva’s needs and translate them into appropriate plans to helping arrange the necessary financing.”
“The new complex would not exist if not for Menachem Marx,” attests Yeshiva President Ronald Lowinger. “His passion and his devotion to the yeshiva are extraordinary.”
Mr. Marx praises the yeshiva as a “shining example of how chinuch can be instilled in our children with a special warmth that captures the neshamah of each child.” “The Yeshiva is known for its talent for developing each student to his full potential,” he explains, “never calling for a one-size-fits-all approach in education. Its reputation for inclusiveness, for embracing every student, is what first drew us to this neighborhood 15 years ago.”
Mr. Marx attributes the amazing growth of Yeshiva Darchei Torah to the spiritual and educational leadership of Rav Yaakov Bender, rosh hayeshiva, “whose clarity of purpose and unrelenting drive continue to fulfill the needs of each one of our children.”
Behind the scenes, Gila, a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother, is an enthusiastic partner in every project her husband undertakes. Still in all, Mrs. Shifri Perl, a neighbor and one of Mrs. Marx’s closest friends, testifies that “she puts her family first.” She adds that Mrs. Marx “is phenomenal. Gila is a great friend, always there to help. She is a tremendous ba’alas chesed and a very giving person. She would do anything for anybody.”
Menachem pays tribute to his own parents, Mr. Robert and Frances Marx, and to his wife’s parents, Rabbi Moshe and Judie Weinbach, for passing down to their children a legacy of love and dedication for mosdos haTorah and Torah causes. Both families collectively take pride in having children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren learning in the yeshiva.
“There’s huge nachas in seeing this extended family all following the same path,” says Menachem. “The beautiful hemshech hadoros, the continuity of Jewish generations is a true blessing in our lives. YDT has a major role in this and we’re very grateful.”
The Marxes, who avoid the limelight and have never before agreed to be honored by any mosad or organization, said they felt so much hakoras hatov to Rav Bender that they could not refuse his invitation to be the Guests of Honor at this year’s dinner.
“I call on every one of my friends and associates to express their thanks to Rabbi Bender for his untiring efforts in building Yeshiva Darchei Torah and enabling it to flourish,” Mr. Marx says. “The yeshiva enriches all of us. Let us all take the opportunity at the upcoming dinner to support this wonderful makom Torah as generously as possible.”
Rabbi and Mrs. Eytan Feiner: Harbotzas Torah Award. In just a few years since moving from Israel to Far Rockaway to become rav of Knesseth Israel, the White Shul, Rabbi Feiner and his rebbetzin have made an extraordinary mark on the community. The rav came to his new post with a rich background in Torah study and teaching, having served for years as a maggid shiur and senior lecturer at Aish HaTorah, while also teaching at numerous other yeshivos and seminaries.
His new role as rav tapped an extraordinary wellspring of inspired leadership in the Feiners. Pouring their energies into strengthening the legendary shul, the rav and his rebbetzin helped expand it into a thriving institution with a growing membership.
“They energized the entire community; they brought about an amazing resurgence,” comments Alex Edelman, one of the White Shul’s leading members. “Rabbi Feiner’s shiurim are a magnet. He’s certainly raised the level of learning in this community.”
“People are attracted, first, by the rav’s brilliance and his grasp of the interconnectivity between Torah learning and living,” says Dr. Eli Shapiro, one of the shul’s mispallelim. “But what keeps people after the initial attraction is his genuine regard and empathy for others.”
“It’s all in his smile that warms people’s hearts,” observes Naftali Solomon, another shul member, adding that “Rabbi Feiner has a special sensitivity that enables him to relate to each person on his own level.”
The rav is also a sought after speaker, lecturing throughout the tri-state area at various shuls, yeshivos, and seminaries, as well as for numerous kiruv and chesed organizations. In the summer, he serves as rav of Chai Lifeline’s Camp Simcha in upstate New York.
In addition to her active involvement as the shul rebbetzin, Mrs. Aviva Feiner is the beloved menaheles of Machon Basya Rochel Seminary, in Lawrence. Now in its fourth year, the seminary, founded in memory of Alex’s mother, Mrs. Basya Rochel Edelman, a’h, also caters to seminary graduates returning from Israel who are eager continue their studies.
“Rebbetzin Feiner is an outstanding mechaneches,” says Mr. Edelman, who sponsored the purchase of the seminary building and brought Mrs. Feiner aboard to lead the institution. “She’s bright and talented, understands her students, and is a wonderful role model.”
Mrs. Feiner also lectures locally and throughout the state, in addition to writing monthly inspirational pieces for Mishpacha magazine.
The Feiners have a special bond with Yeshiva Darchei Torah that began when their special-needs son, Avraham Yeshaya, was enrolled as a preschooler a few years ago.
“Shaya is a very special young man with a most heilege neshamah,” Mrs. Feiner says. “He loves everything that revolves around Torah and mitzvos. Imagine our pain when he turned three, and we realized that there was no appropriate schooling for him in our area that would provide a Yiddishe environment.”
Rabbi Bender invited them to send Shaya to the yeshiva, assuring them he would be warmly welcomed and his special needs would be accommodated in full measure.
“This was no small undertaking,” says Rabbi Feiner. “Shaya is wheelchair-bound and is under constant nursing and therapeutic care. But nothing deterred Rabbi Bender. In his dream to feed the thirsty neshamah of this child, he tackled every obstacle, putting all the school’s resources at our disposal.”
“The way Rabbi Bender embraced Shaya and the challenge of integrating him into the school set the tone for his entire wonderful staff and for the students as well. Everyone is Shaya’s friend. That is the unparalleled beauty and kedushah of the Darchei Torah chinuch.”
The yeshiva welcomes the opportunity to honor the Feiners as exceptional marbitzei Torah, inspiring role models, and pillars of the community.
Rabbi and Mrs. Avrohom Nusbaum: Excellence in Chinuch Award. Rav Nusbaum is a son of Rav Nosson Nusbaum, a veteran maggid shiur at Yeshivas Ner Yisrael of Baltimore. Mrs. Tamar Nusbaum is a daughter of Reb Yisroel Bloom, a’h, the legendary founder of Yeshiva Darchei Torah. Together the Nusbaums have built a distinguished mishpachah, while spending a large portion of their time devoted to chinuch.
Rav Nusbaum serves as a 10th grade maggid shiur in Mesivta Chaim Shlomo, a position he has held since the 10th grade was first created in 1996. It was the second year of the mesivta’s existence, and Rav Nusbaum taught both parallel classes—one in the morning and one for bekius seder in the early afternoon. Hundreds of talmidim have benefited from his unique brand of chinuch, which was forged between the walls of the Philadelphia Yeshiva, Yeshivas Brisk, and Beth Medrash Govoha, where he learned, and at Mesivta Keser Torah of Belmar, New Jersey, where he taught prior to Mesivta Chaim Shlomo.
With the explosive growth of the mesivta, its menahel, Rav Zevi Trenk, sought the assistance of another menahel who would work alongside him and share the leadership role. He found a fitting partner in Rav Nusbaum, who, despite his additional responsibilities, continued to devote himself to his tenth grade talmidim with the same energy and care as before. The difference was that now the entire mesivta would benefit from Rav Nusbaum’s daily involvement.
In regard to his goals in chinuch, Rav Nusbaum describes them as “to be able to bring out the best in every bachur. I want to do what’s right for each bachur. In class I have one type of goal, to help develop a geshmak in learning. As for the yeshiva as a whole, I want them all to grow into bnei Torah—each one [in a manner] that is fitting for himself. ‘Globally’ I seek to help keep the yeshiva running in the best possible way, in making it the best that it can be for the talmidim.”
Rav Nusbaum reflects “The growth [of the yeshiva] is beyond anything I expected both in kamus (quantity) and eychus (quality),” he says. “It started as a fledgling yeshiva and is now the largest Litvishe mesivta in the United States. It is a serious makom Torah, and the boys know what we stand for. Yes, we have a variation of levels, but our mission is clear: to develop bnei Torah.”
Mrs. Nusbaum is a Chumash coordinator for COJDS, the Consortium of Jewish Day Schools, developing Chumash curricula and related materials for the lower elementary grades of 90 yeshivos and day schools across America. For more than two decades she taught in local mosdos: the Hebrew Academy of Long Beach, Torah Academy for Girls, and Shulamith School for Girls.
“Rav Nusbaum is a talmid chacham muflag,” declares Rav Yaakov Bender. “He has raised the ramah (level) of Mesivta Chaim Shlomo over the years and he succeeds in pushing the boys to work hard and enjoy their learning. He is the glue that keeps the place together. Who better to honor than Reb Avrohom and his eishes chayil, who are enhancing the chinuch in this yeshiva—and indeed the greater chinuch world—on a constant basis?”
The Pioneer Class of Mesivta Chaim Shlomo: Celebrating 15 Years of Accomplishment. On a June afternoon in 1999, they gathered in the cavernous beis hamedrash with the soaring, arched windows, celebrating a milestone: their graduation from Mesivta Chaim Shlomo, the Maurice and Edith Lowinger Mesivta High School. Four years earlier these 40 talmidim formed the inaugural class of the mesivta, when Yeshiva Darchei Torah, founded in 1972 as an elementary school, had launched this grand experiment: to establish a yeshiva that would adhere faithfully to the millennia-old mesorah, that would build a robust general studies program, and that would continue the unique foundational philosophy for which Darchei Torah was gaining renown: that an inclusive yeshiva can succeed—that brilliant bachurim could grow and learn alongside their motivated but weaker peers and that all would gain from the arrangement.
Four years later, the experiment had worked.
Thanks to the seriousness and effort that those pioneers invested in their learning, guided by their loving parents, and by distinguished rebbeim and teachers in a building dedicated by the yeshiva’s visionary president, Mr. Ronald Lowinger, who ensured that a proper structure would be erected to house this promising makom Torah, Mesivta Chaim Shlomo had come of age.
After graduation, each talmid followed his own path. Many remained to help establish another, new institution: Beis Medrash Heichal Dovid, devoted to full-time Torah scholarship. For others, a 6,000-mile journey to the great yeshivos of Eretz Yisrael was their next step. What each talmid had in common was that he left the mesivta equipped with a chinuch that had prepared him for life: a Darchei Torah chinuch.
Nearly 15 years later, the yeshiva has grown by leaps and bounds; the beis medrash has spawned a kollel; and the mesivta has developed into a world-class magnet institution. The yeshiva has experienced growth in both quality and quantity. And the pioneers? Those graduates, who not only survived the experiment called Mesivta Chaim Shlomo but thrived—where are they?
Many are married with children today; some are in kollel or teaching students of their own, and others are practicing law or medicine or engaged in business pursuits. And they are everywhere: in locales such as Lakewood and Florida, Illinois, and Yerushalayim—and Far Rockaway and the Five Towns. Several have entrusted their own children’s chinuch to Yeshiva Darchei Torah, the very same venue where they were prepared for life.
On December 29, they will gather again in the very same beis hamedrash with the soaring, arched windows, as the yeshiva that is their alma mater salutes them and recognizes their 15 years of accomplishments. These talmidim took a foundation of chinuch and expanded on it, building families, careers, and lives that are tributes to their parents, their rebbeim, and the yeshiva that they believed in and that believed in them. Most of all, what they have achieved serves as a tribute to their own perseverance and hard work, their own commitment to take the chinuch that prepared them for life and make something worthy of it.
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