SZ Connect: Helping Community Singles Split the Sea

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By: Machla Abramovitz

This coming July 4th weekend history will be madeat the Jersey Shore. The Sephardic community will proudly welcome some of the world’s most renowned gedolei HaTorah. Under the auspices of Torah Umesorah, HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, HaRav Dovid Feinstein, HaRav Elya Brudney, HaRav Dovid Schustel, and Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro will be among those gracing the synagogues, as well as the homes of some of Deal’s most distinguished residents, sharing Torah wisdom on a subject of vital significance to every family – the education of their children.

“This initiative, which we call ‘A Shabbat of Chinuch,’ will provide a rare opportunity for all of us to ask questions about how to better mechanechourselves and our families, as well enable us to interact with the greatest spiritual leaders of our generation,” said Rabbi Raphael Netanel, Dean of Students, Yeshivah Darchei Eretz (YDE).

It is also an opportunity to express hakarat hatov to Torah Umesorah, an international Torah institution that benefits Sephardic educational institutions throughout the country.

Many mashgichim, principals, rebbeim, and morotworking in Ateret Torah M’ekor Haim, Shaare Torah, and Bet Yaakov of Jersey Shore, among others, are products of Torah Umesorah’s training programs. Two yeshivot, Shaarei Torah and YDE, were recipients of the Torah Umesorah Award for Academic Excellence.

The schools also benefit from Torah Umesorah’s educational and networking conferences. For the past two years twenty rebbeimfrom YDE participated in Torah Umesorah’s annual convention in Pennsylvania, where they interacted with educators from across the country, and learned from acclaimed psychologists, educators, mechanchim, and Torah scholars how to provide each child with the Torah education they need and deserve.

Torah Umesorah’s Presidents Conferencein Miami inspired this chinuchinitiative. One of the conference’s keynote speakers, Rabbi Meyer Yedid, YDE’s rosh yeshiva and rabbi of Congregation Shaarei Zion, attended with a group of distinguished followers from his congregation. Meeting and connecting with Torah luminaries such as Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky and Rav Hillel David, as well as with renowned philanthropists and askanim, left a life-altering impression on those who attended the conference.

Rabbi Yedid, with the warm support of Rabbi David Ozeri, recognized the need to recreate this experience for the entire Sephardic community. Discussions with Rabbi Zvi Bloom, Torah Umesorah’s Executive Vice President, and Rabbi Binyomin Holland, Director of Operations, generated the idea for a chinuchweekend to enable the institution’s Torah administration and staff to personally meet with the parents of the students they service through their training classes, workshops, consultativework, and technical centers. “This weekend represents the culmination of the close relationship we’ve developed with the Sephardic schools, especially over the past six years,” said Rabbi Holland.

Sephardic yeshivot are taking full advantage of the new technologies and pedagogical training programs Torah Umesorah provides. Graduates from kollelsand seminaries pursuing careers
in chinuchlearn the primary skills and the sensibilities necessary to become successful rebbesand morot. These include how to prepare lesson plans, the art of positive reinforcement, how to treat every child with dignity, and how to successfully reach every child, both emotionally and academically. A mashgiachprogram for selected educators highlights students’ emotional/psychological makeup, which enables those educators to help teachers recognize and preemptively resolve issues before they become problems. Other courses target academic diversification. Teachers learn how to maximize the strengths and minimize the challenges of every child, as well as how to integrate academically challenged students more fully into the classroom. A new course on emunahhelps teachers convey Torah concepts to students in meaningful ways. A tefillahprogram that delves into the meaning of the prayers is currently being adjusted to accommodate the Sephardic nusach.

Most popular are Torah U’Mesorah’s teaching centers, hubs for teachers seeking the newest educational tools needed to make the classroom more exciting. Last year between its two locations in Brooklyn and New Jersey, the centers r
eceived 10,000 visits from educators seeking posters and help with curriculum development. Its website,, simplifies the teaching process. With a click of the mouse, teachers can access mishnah and parshasheets, as examples. As well, building on an initiative that Rabbi Ozeri sparked, Torah Umesorah helped raise funds for schools wanting to increase salaries for their rebbeim.

“Sephardic yeshivot are blossoming and enthusiastically embracing professional development. Bringing chizukand inspiration to the Jersey Shore, a place that encompasses the wider Sephardic communities that congregate there for the summer, and by building on Sephardim’s historical respect for gedolim, we hope to raise our already flourishing relationship to yet another level,” Rabbi Holland said.