Excitement filled the air as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings found their places in the specially decorated gymnasium in Yeshivat Shaare Torah’s Boys’ Elementary School. It wasn’t about the refreshments, the unique cakes and cookies stating very proudly that this wasn’t going to be an ordinary first grade Humash party, nor was it about the balloons, although they certainly added to the festive ambience.

This was about the laying of a foundation; a foundation of love for Torah that will, please Gd, remain forever within the heart of each first grade student of Rabbi Yosef Faham and Rabbi Isaac Sananes.

The young students marched into the hall dressed for a major celebration, bedecked in bowties, cummerbunds, and special kipot that were made especially for the occasion.

After the processional, Rabbi Amram Kuessous, Menahel of Shaare Torah Elementary School, took the stage. The rabbi shared with everyone an insight he had just heard from Mr. Sam Gindi, a proud grandfather who told him, “This is not just a celebration of learning Humash. By learning the textual content of the Humash we are privy to the thoughts of the Borei Olam, the Writer and Creator.”

Rabbi Kuessous explained that a proper study of Humash is a critical component of the foundation of every child’s religious educationand future. Appropriately, the 8th grade yearbook of Yeshivat Shaare Torah is called “Yesodot” – foundations.

“Foundations” is exactly what the Humash curriculum at Shaare Torah is all about. Three years ago, the yeshivah instituted a new methodology inthe instruction of Humash in grades 1- 4which aims at equipping students with the vital language skills needed to become independent learners. Already in first grade, students are taught to read the Humash with ta’amim(cantillation notes), and how to recognize roots, prefixes and suffixes in the Hebrew words, even before the actual translation process is begun. This system gives students crucial decoding tools that make translation so much easier. The boys thus embark upon what will hopefully be a lifetime of Humash study with a firm foundation of skills and genuine love of learning.

Humash instruction at Shaare Torah is done through a unique medium – music. The building blocks of the Torah are taught to music through an innovative curriculum developed by Rabbi David Sutton, Menahel of Yeshivat Shaare Torah Boy’s High School, and adapted by the rabbis at Shaare Torah to fit the needs of the Syrian/Sephardic traditions. Color-coded lessons are used to teach the various parts of speech, roots of words, andother material.

The performance of the budding Torah scholars on their special day was outstanding, and showcased their hard work and the skills they have mastered. Rabbi Yosef Faham and Rabbi Isaac Sananes’s diligence, devotion and dedication to their students have made the new Yeshivat Shaare Torah Humash initiative the success it is. Credit also goes to the committed parents, whose active and enthusiastic participation is a vital part of the extraordinary achievements displayed at this exceptional Humash event. This is the beauty of Yeshivat Shaare Torah.

Rabbi Hillel Haber, shelita, Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshivat Shaare Torah, jubilantly expressed how gratified he felt that January 1st can now be known as a day of Simhat Torah, with young boys receiving their first Humashim, instead of the day that January 1st was in the community decades ago. He blessed all the families that their children, along with all the children in our special community, should continue to grow in Torah. Rabbi Haber stressed that he is looking forward to the next January 1st Humash celebration, and to many more to come.

Rabbi Kuessous concluded his remarks by thanking Rabbi Haber, the Rosh HaYeshiva, and Mr. Manny Haber, President of the Board, for their support, both spiritual and material, which has allowed this amazing institution, Yeshivat Shaare Torah, to thrive and produce the scholars and leaders of tomorrow.

Humashim were presented to the boys by the Rosh HaYeshiva, and each student also received a special gift and treat. The parents shared their delight with each other and the extended family members, but in truth, the entire gathering resembled one large family, a special, heartwarming sight which has become the norm at Yeshivat Shaare Torah events.

Shaare Torah expresses gratitude to all those whose hard work contributed to the event’s success, and especially to Mrs. Danielle Menaged, the president of the PTA, who, along with her dedicated committee of mothers, created a morning to remember.

On January 1, 2014, Shaare Torah’s first graders showed that they have been given a firm, solid foundation for a rich, successful future of Torah study and growth.