A Historical Look at LIFE in ALEPPO

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By: Rabbi Moshe Benoliel

Abuoyant crowd comprised of hundreds of rabbeim, talmidim, Yeshiva families, and distinguished guests welcomed a new Sephardic sefer Torahto Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway, New York last month. This was the first event of its kind in the yeshiva’s history.

The sefer Torah, which is being used by the yeshiva’s Sephardic minyan, was presented by Mr. and Mrs. Shelomo Sarway. At the seudat mitzvah, Shelomo,an alumnus of the Yeshiva’s Mesivta, Chaim Shlomo, and Beis Medrash Heichal Dovid Divisions, recalled his mother’s exhortation to him when he first set off for an out-of-town yeshiva more than two decades ago: “Remember where you come from.” Mr. Sarway affirmed that today he still remembers where he comes from - including not only his family’s proud Sephardic lineage but also his formative years of Torah learning and development as a ben Torahat his alma mater, Yeshiva Darchei Torah.

Rav Daniel Gavrielov,an assistant menahelat the yeshiva who recently assumed the role of ravof the Sephardic minyan, spoke of the sofrim- the scribes - who write sifrei Torah, and their corresponding ”scribes” of the heart and soul, the rabbeimwho imprint the indelible lessons of the Torah onto the neshamotof their talmidim. Just as a sefer Torahis invalid if even one letter is defective, the “scribes” of Yeshiva Darchei Torah, led by the Rosh HaYeshiva, Rav Yaakov Bender, understand that a yeshiva is incomplete if even one student is unable to unlock his full potential. Rabbi Bender expressed his hope that the new sefer Torahwould be a catalyst for the continued growth and positive impact that the Sephardic minyan is already having on the Sephardic talmidim. (Yeshiva Darchei Torah includes close to 100 Sephardic families, from early childhood through
Bet Medrash.)

The last speaker at the seudahwas Rav Bender, who thanked the Sarway and Ghermezian families for the Hachnasat Sefer Torahand for their support of the yeshiva. He fondly recalled Darchei’s first influx of Sephardic talmidimfrom Iran during the turbulent revolution of 1979. From that day on, the yeshiva has continuously welcomed boys of Sephardic heritage, consonant with its well-deserved reputation as a makom Torah, where excellence in Torah, middot, and academics is complemented by an
inclusionary ethos.

Perhaps the most poignant moment of the day was when the new sefer Torahwas about to be brought in to the edifice of Mesivta Chaim Shlomo and it was greeted by bachurimholding the yeshiva’s Ashkenazi sifrei Torah. This striking moment was like a snapshot of unity, when all the scrolls, which contain the same exact sacred words, albeit with different scripts and diverse encasements, came together to complete a celebration of the one eternal Torah that unites all Jews.