May 20, 2024
Close this search box.
Close this search box.
May 20, 2024
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Avi Klar Continues Growing and Learning at Migdal HaTorah

Avi Klar studied at Yeshivat Migdal HaTorah in Modi’in these past two years. He lives in Bergenfield and attended RYNJ for elementary school and TABC for high school. His family davens at Beth Abraham and Rinat in Bergenfield.

His next stop? Yeshiva University.

Why did you choose Migdal HaTorah? What’s unique about it?

I chose Migdal HaTorah for its unique approach toward learning and its values and philosophy toward Judaism. It focuses on Torah U’Madda, which has to do with not only respecting but actively seeking knowledge, both Judaic and secular. I find that important to understand the world, and to help learn logic and philosophy to build on my Jewish learning. Migdal was the school that was best-equipped to enhance my Jewish learning by teaching classic Jewish texts through the lens of science and philosophy.

As for Migdal’s approach toward learning, it has a unique approach toward Gemara. We learn to analyze and dissect a piece of Gemara; Migdal has a high focus on learning through the Brisker derech. Specifically, this means that we do a lot of the analysis ourselves, without really looking at too many commentaries, so our thoughts and ideas are really our own, and that way we can really absorb the text and develop our skills.

What kind of student do you think would attend your program?

I think a person who values knowledge and appreciates the pursuit of it, and challenges conceptual ideas—someone who would like to grow their knowledge of Judaism, both philosophically and textually. They respect the logic and the process, while also respecting Chumash and Nach.

What kind of goals did you have for your year? Do you feel you’ve done that?

My two goals were to be able to learn independently and to enjoy learning—to really appreciate what it has and the value of Torah in my life. As for whether I’ve accomplished these goals—there is no end. I’m in the process. I’m further along than I was before, yet there is no end to knowledge and my growth, and I think it’s a lifelong challenge. However, Migdal has given me the abilities to work on these things independently, and has focused me.

What prompted you to return for shana bet?

I felt that I did not gain everything I wanted out of shana alef, in that I did learn the fundamentals of my goals, but there was much more to be gained and one year was not enough time (especially due to COVID, which cut my year short).

What was your favorite thing to learn this year?

Gemara iyun shiur was my favorite part of the day. In iyun, we learned how to approach the Gemara and the logical steps and progression, and we were able to learn the logical steps and methodology toward learning. It was much more of a discovery on how to learn, how to approach a topic and really rip it apart and get at its roots, than just to read the texts and translate them.

What was the biggest highlight of your time in Israel?

One of the most remarkable things I experienced during my time in Israel was going to Switzerland with Migdal HaTorah. There, we went to CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which contains the largest hadron collider, and is one of the largest research facilities in the world.

Also, in my second year, we went to Dubai, where we got to see some beautiful architecture and learn about Islamic philosophy. It was a remarkable experience, and supplemented some great experiences in the beit midrash with some incredible cultural experiences out in the world.

What kind of challenges did you face coming to Israel in your shana alef, and then in your shana bet?

Regarding shana alef, the largest challenge was the change in the environment. Going from the structured school day and being at home in America to all of a sudden becoming independent in Israel, I had to really make my own schedule and stick to it.

In shana bet, the biggest challenge I had was not getting burnt out because of COVID and being locked in the entire time. It was important to focus on learning and what was important to me, and putting aside the frustration and feeling of being burnt out that built up because of COVID.

How did being in Israel differ from your expectations?

COVID is the obvious one. I was very aware of the independence and structure of the program and being on my own. I expected that; it was difficult adjusting to it, but I knew that was reality. So what really differed from my expectations was the unknown, which was COVID.

How do you think the pandemic positively affected your time in yeshiva?

It allowed me to really focus on learning, and it took away the distractions of wanting to go and hang out with friends, or go to Yerushalayim or Tel Aviv. It allowed me to make Modi’in my home, and it relieved distractions.

What kind of effect do you think bidud (quarantine) had on the students?

Granted, bidud was difficult, especially for the incoming shana alef, who’d never experienced any of this. I was a madrich with a group of five shana alef, so I tried to give them a smooth experience with learning and also help them deal with being cramped into an apartment for two weeks straight, and I, along with the rest of the staff, tried to make it a positive experience for them.

What are you most looking forward to now that you’ve ended your time at Migdal HaTorah?

I’m looking forward to college, to the next step in life, while also retaining all of the knowledge I’ve gained this past year, and using it in a productive way to enhance my life and live it to the fullest.

How do you think your time in yeshiva prepared you for the rest of your life?

It definitely taught me independence and responsibility. It also taught me how to think and use my mind in ways I wouldn’t have used it before Migdal.

Conceptually, logically, I’ve learned how to come up with a svara; how to work out problem-solving through rational means; and how, if you spot a problem—as opposed to going for a simple answer or running away—instead sitting and working out all possible solutions and outcomes, and then using rationalization to figure out which one works best. The appreciation I have for knowledge as a whole has really increased, and now I’m more interested in philosophical ideas and conceptual discussions, as well as things that aren’t necessarily practical for my daily life but are intriguing and stimulating. Those types of discussions are something that have helped me develop into who I am today.

Brooke Schwartz is a former Jewish Link intern and resident of Englewood who just finished her shana bet at Amudim, a midrasha that recently moved from Modi’in to Jerusalem, Israel.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles