By Mordechai Kastlebaum
When the most significant news item in many years reached the city of Radin, the Chofetz Chaim’s grandson excitedly rushed over to his zaidy’s home and shared the news. The Chofetz Chaim showed no reaction. Thinking that his elderly grandfather did not hear him properly, he repeated it again—this time a little louder. Once again, no reaction. A little exasperated, the grandson said, “Zaidy, isn’t this news a besurah tovah (good news)?” The Chofetz Chaim, zt’l, responded, “If you would tell me that yeshivos are opening, that indeed would be a besurah tovah.”
With all the difficulties our community has recently endured, it is particularly satisfying to be able to share a besurah tovah—the opening of a new yeshiva that will add to the beautiful, ever growing landscape of Torah institutions in our truly wonderful Five Towns community. Yeshiva Orchos Chaim, the newest branch affiliated with the world-renowned Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim of Queens, is set to open its doors with a ninth-grade class for mesivta bachurim this coming September 2013.
Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, entering its 80th year, was led by the unforgettable rosh hayeshiva Rav Henoch Leibowitz, zt’l, for more than 60 years, until his passing several years ago. The yeshiva has enjoyed remarkable growth over the last few decades, and has opened dozens of yeshivos, shuls, and kiruv centers throughout the country. They have transformed entire cities with their commitment and total dedication to the spreading of Torah and mussar to thousands of fellow Yidden.
The latest addition to the Chofetz Chaim network of mosdos haTorah is Yeshiva Orchos Chaim, which will be opening in the Five Towns community. The yeshiva will be led by the rosh hayeshiva Rav Shlomo Yonoson Harris, who served as menahel at Mesivta Chofetz Chaim in Queens for close to 20 years. Rav Harris is well known for his clear and challenging shiurim that motivate and develop the minds of his talmidim. Additionally, the love and devotion that he shows to every one of his talmidim is legendary. His personal kesher and involvement with his former talmidim doesn’t end at graduation, but spans decades. Many former talmidim of Rav Harris, who are now parents raising their families in the Five Towns, are eagerly anticipating that their children will develop a lifelong relationship with Rav Harris as well. One member of the community who graduated from high school over a decade ago commented that the care and concern that Rav Harris had for him personally during those formative years is one of the things that continues to guide and inspire him to this very day.
Joining Rav Harris in this exciting new venture are two young, vibrant talmidei chachamim, Rav Avrohom Yitzchok Fertig and Rav Yaakov Moshe Harris. Products of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, they bring a combination of enthusiasm and love of talmidim, and will no doubt make their mark quickly as superb mechanchim in the coming years.
Aside from the emphasis on in-depth learning and the special focus on mussar and middos, the yeshiva takes special pride in offering a high quality general studies program. Rabbi Avrumi Portowicz, a veteran principal who has led the general studies program of Yeshiva Ohavei Torah of Riverdale for the past ten years, will be at the helm of the general studies program at Yeshiva Orchos Chaim. Building on his reputation for excellence, Rabbi Portowicz will lead a serious and professional program which talmidim will find to be both stimulating and challenging. Highlighting the intensive curriculum will be a variety of AP courses and a dynamic English language program that bolsters students’ creative writing and composition skills.
One of the many factors that has made the Chofetz Chaim derech of chinuch truly unique is the closeness and camaraderie among the talmidim, where relationships last for a lifetime. To further develop this achdus, Yeshiva Orchos Chaim will feature mesibos, shabbatonim, overnight trips, and extracurricular activities that will nurture and foster these important relationships.
Yeshiva Orchos Chaim will be having an open house at the Chofetz Chaim Torah Center, 7 Derby Avenue in Cedarhurst, at 8:30 p.m. this Motzaei Shabbos, December 22. For more information about Yeshiva Orchos Chaim, please call the roshei yeshiva directly at 516-453-5163. Experience firsthand the depth of enthusiasm and dedication that will no doubt earn Yeshiva Orchos Chaim its place as one of the foremost mosdos of chinuch in the Five Towns community in the years to come. It truly is a besurah tovah.