There was a sense of excitement throughout the crowded halls of the Sands, where the Yeshiva Gedolah of the Five Towns held its 10th anniversary dinner Tuesday evening, February 5. There was also a sense of pride that was almost palpable, pride in the accomplishments of the guests of honor, Rabbi and Rebbetzin Yitzchok Knobel, shlita, pride in the contributions of Mr. and Mrs. Steven Stein, who received the young leadership award, and pride in the work on behalf of the community by Rabbi and Mrs. Yitzy Haber, who were the recipients of the harbotzas Torah award. And there was also a feeling of pride in knowing that the community as a whole had played an integral role in the establishment of the Yeshiva Gedolah as a preeminent makom Torah. A beautiful example of the community’s involvement was the dedication of the Pincus Peterseil Beis Hamussar, with many of Mr. Peterseil’s, a’h, family and friends in attendance.
The Yeshiva Gedolah is a place of higher Torah learning for bachurim returning from Eretz Yisrael, as well as for young married men who wish to learn in kollel. At the same time, it serves as a community institution where ba’alei batim enjoy many shiurim and minyanim.
This year’s honorees clearly exemplify this diversity and unity. Rabbi and Rebbetzin Knobel have devoted their lives to harbotzas Torah in our community, both by establishing this makom Torah as well as serving as role models. The Steins are a young professional family committed to growing in Torah who found a source of inspiration in the Yeshiva Gedolah and have brought their own strengths to the yeshiva. Rabbi and Mrs. Haber, with their talents, humor, and great dedication to learning, feel that the yeshiva is home in every way. Mr. Peterseil, a Holocaust survivor who began a new life in our community, was dedicated to the yeshiva’s teachings of Torah and mussar. Each of the honorees comes to the yeshiva from a different vantage point, but each is an integral and important part of the yeshiva.
Rabbi Knobel, shlita, the guest of honor, and the yeshiva’s founder and rosh kollel, spoke of how privileged they have been to learn from and be guided by their parents and grandparents, as well as many gedolim, bearers and guardians of the mesorah. Rabbi Knobel said that Chazal tell us that Hakadosh Baruch Hu chooses good people as emissaries for his kindness and graciousness. He said that in their years in the community, very special people came forth and offered warm personal friendship and chizuk, including the founding and current board members of the Yeshiva Gedolah.
Rabbi Moshe Zev Katzenstein, shlita, the rosh yeshiva of the Yeshiva Gedolah, spoke of the lesson taught by the Ben Ish Chai relating to the phrase “that which exists in the heavens from above and the land that is below.” The Ben Ish Chai says that sometimes we need to look above us to set a standard and sometimes we need to look below us to appreciate what we have. When it comes to ruchniyus, we need to look above to motivate us to strive higher. In mundane matters, we need to look below us to appreciate our material possessions so that they should not be taken for granted. Rabbi Katzenstein stated that the yeshiva’s purpose is the bashamayim mima’al, by providing inspiration and chizuk.
Mr. Steven Stein spoke of his search for the right yeshiva community when returning with his wife and young family from Eretz Yisrael. He found that special place in the Yeshiva Gedolah, where he could continue to grow and advance in learning. Just as importantly, he and his wife were the beneficiaries of the kindness and warmth of the rebbeim and their rebbetzins. He related that he enjoys taking his son to daven at the yeshiva, to experience the sweetness of the yeshiva atmosphere.
Rabbi Katzenstein described Rabbi Haber as a person who knows how to make a room light up with laughter, but at the same time is a person of great depth. Rabbi Haber described the yeshiva as a special place that is open to bachurim and ba’alei batim who come from various backgrounds, even a clown wearing a green and pink suit, which is what Rabbi Haber does professionally.
An important part of the evening was the dedication of the Peterseil Bais HaMussar, in memory of Pincus Peterseil, a’h. In a video presentation, the roshei yeshiva and Mr. Peterseil’s grandchildren described his love for the yeshiva and for its talmidim. He was a man of unusual honesty and integrity, and a true role model. The dedication was a fitting tribute to Mr. Peterseil and it was moving to witness his family’s efforts to preserve his legacy.
The tenth anniversary dinner was a great success, with more than 450 people in attendance. They were given a vision of the yeshiva’s future plans and goals, including the completion of the yeshiva’s beautiful new home.
For dedication opportunities and for more information, please visit www.ygft.org, or call 516-295-8900. v