The students of Yeshivat Or Hatorah are gradually becoming radiant beacons of light for our community and the entire Jewish world

A tiny bit of light can dispel a sea of darkness. Light a match in a pitch black room, and the darkness disappears and light reigns supreme. If so much darkness can be eliminated with just a little bit of light, we can only imagine how much can be achieved by a large, radiant beacon of light.

The students at Yeshivat Or HaTorah (YOH) are inspired and motivated to be the beacon of light for their generation. They are taught both religious and general studies on a level far above the norm. Their days are filled with learning, both in and out of the classroom. Learning at YOH is not something the students do – it is who they are.

Every rabbi on YOH’s staff is an experienced and skilled educator. Students in every grade, from preschool through the elementary, middle school and high school, learn from a rabbi who understands his students, and who can relate to each one on an individual basis. They are experts in capturing the attention of their students, and infusing them with a thirst for the knowledge and information that they are so adept at sharing. The boys become active participants in a riveting learning experience, and not just passive spectators at a learning event.

This is true also of YOH’s General Studies Department, which is staffed by top-notch professional teachers, all of whom are experts in their respective fields, and uncompromisingly devoted to educating their charges on a standard of unsurpassed excellence.

Outstanding Achievements, Grade by Grade

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Just this past school year, the students of YOH achieved extraordinary success in all areas of Torah learning and General Studies:

•        The Pre 1A boys can already read independently in both Hebrew and English.

•        The 1st graders are able to translate new pesukim on their own. Using their advanced phonetic skills, they can spell almost any word. They even “traveled” the world learning about different countries and cultures.

•        The 2nd graders have mastered the skill of reading Rashi as well as math skills, and have also explored our place in the universe, all the way from the solar system to the 50 states, which they can already identify.

•        The 3rd grade boys can prepare Torah readings with ta’amim (musical notes), on their own.  They even authored a creative story book and performed numerous outstanding dramatic productions.

•        The 4th grade students have memorized numerous Mishnayot and acquired a deep understanding of each Mishnah. The boys read biographies on famous people and then interviewed each other to write their own biographies.

•        The 5th graders began learning Gemara, and have already acquired a working vocabulary of Talmudic terms as well as a wealth of other vital Gemara skills. They explored life on four continents and different ecosystems, while adding 180 new words to their English vocabulary.

•        The 6th grade students mastered five pages of Gemara, and completed Sefer Shoftim and Mishnayot Masechet Taanit. They held a special Mishkan Fair, creating spectacular exhibits of the various furnishings of the Mishkan based on what they learned in Humash (especially, in Parshiyot  Terumah and Tetzaveh). They applied mathematical concepts to everyday life in areas such as science and computers, and were introduced to computer programming.

•        The 7th graders completed the entire first chapter of Masechet Makkot, and even learned several Tosafot!  In Humash, they learned FIVE complete parashiyot, with several commentaries. They also completed Sefer Shmuel I. They engaged in an in-depth study of nutrition and the human body, applying concrete ideas for a lifetime of better physical health and wellness. The boys also learned Microsoft Office Suites.

•        The 8th grade boys developed advanced Gemara skills, and experienced firsthand how the rulings of the Tannaim and the intricate discussions of the Amoraim come alive. Every night, they would call in to a custom-designed homework messaging system and read the Gemara or portions of the Siddur and Tehillim, or practice and prepare the Torah readings. The boys learned how to read Kohelet, Tehillim and Esther with the unique melodies of the Ketuvim notes. The reading of the Torah portion (Shenayim Mikra Ve’ehad Targum) was a weekly event. Their advanced study of biology and the scientific method culminated in a dazzling science fair. The boys  also learned pre-algebra math.

Additionally, there is an Ivrit enrichment program in grades 1-5. Plus, students in the 7th and 8th grades were treated to a special Mishmar program every Wednesday night, featuring intramural basketball leagues, followed by a pizza dinner and an enjoyable hour of  learning. The evening ended with Arvit and a cash raffle. The weekly learning taught the boys the immense value of hazarah (reviewing), and, specifically, reviewing with a havruta (study partner).The program was such a booming success that on the rare occasion when Mishmar  had to be cancelled, the students felt very disappointed.

Hatmada contests were offered during the Sukkot and Pesach holidays, offering great prizes for boys who kept to a learning schedule and attended minyan during vacation. In addition, six “Understanding Our Tefila Contests” were held over the course of the year, and the winners were treated to amazing trips. The boys visited the New York State Supreme Court, Sony Wonder Labs, and Fort Wadsworth. They also went snow tubing and to a go-carts and miniature golf park. A group of high-achieving boys were treated to a special trip to a go-cart speed track on Long Island.

The Class of 2015

This was truly a historic year for YOH Elementary School. The 2014-2015 academic year saw the yeshiva graduate its first 8th grade class, inaugurate the elementary school minyan,and welcome a brand new Sefer Torah with an unforgettable Hachnasat Sefer Torah celebration. The outstanding students of the class of 2015 set the bar for all future classes – and set that bar very high. Alongside their impressive academic achievements, the graduates were trailblazers, inaugurating the school’s basketball team, the Hornets, organizing a spectacular Purim carnival for the entire school, and leading the upper grades in a Technology Awareness program, as they had all their electronic devices “TAGGED” to protect against the perils of the internet . Finally, they were the pioneers of the Graduation Trip to Orlando, Florida, a special experience which created fond memories that will remain with them for decades. At graduation, the entire class performed in a choir presentation, dazzling the 200 guests with their beautiful rendition of a pizmon (hymn). Later, they enjoyed a festive, private graduation party in a local restaurant, during which each boy spoke about his personal experience and his feelings upon becoming a YOH graduate.

Marking 18 Years of Excellence

YOH high school has been a shining light for the community for 18 years, and the level of education – in both religious and general studies – is now at an all-time high. The devoted staff of rabbis take a genuine interest in their students, both in school and out. Every student knows that if there is something on his mind which he would like to discuss, his rebbe’s door is always open. This unique closeness between rebbe and student raises the level of learning exponentially.

This year, YOH high school studied the second and third chapters of Masechet Baba Metzia, along with Humash, Halachah, Mishnah, Navi, and Mussar. The students participated in an exciting Mishmar learning program every Thursday night at the yeshiva, and many of them also attended voluntary night classes throughout the year, for which they were rewarded with a free trip to Florida. The end-of-the-year Shabbaton, an annual highlight which the students eagerly anticipate all year long, brings everyone together for a “Family Shabbat.” This year’s Shabbaton, which began on Friday with a zip line and sports tournaments , featured a Shabbat filled with beautiful meals and speeches given by the boys,  as well as an inspirational kumzitz at the Saturday night Melave Malka that lasted into  the wee hours of the morning, FunPlex, and more.

The high school’s General Studies department is staffed by fully-accredited professional teachers who are proficient in their subject material and genuinely committed to helping their students achieve. Whether it’s Math, Science, English or Social Studies, the teachers’ remarkable breadth of knowledge motivates the students to strive for excellence. This year, with the introduction of the Common Core Curriculum, teachers challenged their students to exceed State expectations. Sure enough, the students scored well above average on this year’s Regents exams.

YOH offers numerous different opportunities for its students to develop into well-rounded, knowledgeable, hard-working and successful adults. The student government starts around Election Day, with students campaigning and running for the G.O. The school invites a community activist or public representative who kicks off the election season at a special assembly, explaining the privileges and responsibilities inherent in being upstanding citizens of a democratic society.

This past year, the students also participated in a high level spelling bee as well as a trivia bowl. The school offers a wide variety of clubs, including chess, backgammon and knock-hockey. The Mathletes Club consists of the school’s leading math students, while others hone their oratory skills in the Debate Club. But the most popular club, by far, is the Hesed Committee, whose members regularly rolled up their sleeves to volunteer at Hamasbia, a local soup kitchen that serves food and distributes packages to the needy. These work-visits to Hamasbia often entailed devoting long extra hours after school, yet there was never a dearth of volunteers. The Hesed Committee also sponsored and participated in a post-Purim Party with members of Ohel’s Home.

The students of Or Hatorah are growing to become radiant beacons of light for our community and the entire Jewish world. They are setting the gold standard of Torah values, of Torah life based on knowledge, learning, personal responsibility and refined character. Day by day, year by year, the boys of YOH are developing into the leaders of tomorrow, who will guide the next generation of Jews towards even greater heights of excellence and achievement.