Thursday, June 30, 2022

A new kollel has come to Teaneck. Helmed by Max Herskowitz and Ari Solomon, the Teaneck Morning Kollel, called Hisorerus HaLev (Awakening of the Heart), serves as an extended opportunity for interested community members who spend their days involved in either work or school to learn among
others with the same passion, while also earning a little money, too. Herskowitz and Solomon both share a deep love for Torah learning, and upon noticing that Teaneck didn’t have a kollel of its own, they decided to create one together.

Herskowitz, who works at an investment bank, especially wanted to create the kollel because he starts work at 7:30 a.m., and wanted to find a “geshmak place” to learn before starting his work day.

“My days are now kind of packed,” Herskowitz shared with The Jewish Link. “But I’ve been in some amazing learning environments before, and I thought we could really bring some energy and Torah spark to Teaneck, something I feel doesn’t really exist for working men. I wanted to create something that would not just be for my chavrusa, but for other working men in similar situations, so that they could have that same opportunity to learn some Torah in a warm environment before heading out to work.”

Solomon echoed his sentiments, saying: “I have heard countless stories and know many people who go to work early in the morning and struggle to find time to either learn Torah at all, or they just don’t feel the love and geshmak they used to feel when learning by just listening to a shiur on the way to work. There are also many people that make time to learn in the early hours before dawn, but don’t love the feeling of sitting in the beis medrash of a shul alone. Yiddishkeit is meant to be loved and enjoyed, not just simply something to check off a box with, and that’s why this initiative is perfect for them.”

Thus far, the Teaneck kollel has about 40 members consistently attending sessions, of which there are two in the early morning before work and school. The two sedarim take place from 5:25 to 6:15 a.m., and from 7:05 to 7:55 a.m., with a 6:15 nicely paced Shacharis in between.

Participants are not required to strictly learn Talmud; rather they are encouraged to learn anything that will bolster their avodat Hashem, whether halacha, mussar or Gemara.

The kollel itself is located at Yeshivas Bais Mordechai of Teaneck, which is led by Rabbi Eliyohu Roberts shlit”a, and is located on Palisade Avenue, near the State Street Bridge. Many people have expressed how this structured, yet relaxed learning each day has changed their entire service of God for the positive.

As for why the learning takes place so early, Herskowitz says that the reason is twofold: First, logistically, it’s the ideal time for working people, and secondly, it’s a time when a person is able to get the most out of the session.

“The morning is actually one of the best times for this kind of learning,” Herskowitz said. “Your mind is fresh, there’s no one bothering you, and you can just ease yourself into the learning without disruption. It works much better this way, because at the end of the day people are too tired and want to sit back and spend time with their families at home.”

In addition to the working men, the kollel is designed for teens who are looking to grow and get exposed to the more “fun” side of Torah without any pressure of attendance or tests. Solomon gives a daily tefillah chaburah at 7:05 a.m., which is attended by 10 to 15 high school students before going to school.

Herskowitz says the most rewarding part thus far is the knowledge that he and Solomon are doing their part to get people involved in Torah study.

“It’s really been great so far,” Herskowitz went on to say. “Just knowing there’s more Torah in the world, there’s nothing like it. The other day, I saw a father drive his son to the yeshiva for one of the sessions, and he stopped the car to watch as his son walked inside. And the father had such a smile on his face. He was so proud that his son was eager to learn. It was really inspiring to see, and it makes all that we do worth it.”

The goal of Hisorerus HaLev is to create opportunities beyond just the morning kollel. It has been growing due to the anonymous generosity of individuals who understand the value of working men learning Torah. They are actively looking for additional sponsors to help support this initiative as this is a great opportunity for the community to get involved. These donations can be made anonymously or as a dedication, and every little bit goes towards building the makom Torah in Teaneck.

If you are interested in donating to Hisorerus HaLev, you can contact Solomon by emailing him at [email protected] and give a donation at www.GoFundMe.com/TeaneckKollel. Solomon can also be reached by phone at (201) 937-3346.

Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. He blogs at www.adamssoapbox.com.

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