April 12, 2024
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Ethan Shafer Enjoys His Totally Terrific Year at Torat Shraga

Ethan Shafer is studying at Yeshivat Torat Shraga in Bayit Vagan, Jerusalem. He grew up in Englewood, attended Moriah for elementary school and SAR for high school. In the summers, he attended Camp Lavi and Kol HaNe’arim. His family davens at East Hill Synagogue.

His next stop? NYU-Stern School of Business.

Why did you choose to study at Torat Shraga?

I chose this yeshiva because of its focus on Jewish learning and spiritual growth. We’re located in Jerusalem in the Bayit V’gan neighborhood, with an attractive campus with a new basketball court. We’re a pretty large shana alef, at about 100, but we feel like we get very individualized attention from the staff. We have a good amount of independence in our learning opportunities and there are a wide variety of different teachers to learn from.

What kind of goals do you have for the year?

My goals for this year are to acquire the skills I will need to learn independently in the future and to further develop my love for learning Torah. I want to learn more about Judaism and deepen my relationship with Hashem.

What have been some of the highlights of your year so far?

One of the most exciting moments of this year was the tish with Rabbi Tzvi Weinberger from Yeshiva University, who came to Torat Shraga to meet with us and 650 other yeshiva students. The night was filled with lots of singing and spirit.

One of the most meaningful and interesting experiences of my year was attending the Discovery Program at Aish Hatorah. We had an amazing day at the Aish Center in the Old City, learning about the foundations of Jewish history and the mysteries of the Torah. It was a very inspiring day.

What kind of challenges have you faced coming to Israel?

The biggest challenge for me has been to speak and interact in Hebrew, which is not my native language. This includes my day-to-day Torah learning and navigating things on my own, including transportation and interacting with other Israelis. It has also been challenging adjusting to the long days of learning in yeshiva.

How has your year been different from your expectations?

Although I was well prepared to come to Israel, being here for the year has been somewhat of a culture shock for me. I have developed a high level of independence, including mastering the bus system to get around the country, speaking Hebrew, organizing trips and making plans for out Shabbatot. I have enjoyed meeting and becoming close with relatives I did not know before this year.

Where is your favorite place to go for weekends/Shabbat so far?

I have enjoyed visiting with one of my former SAR teachers who now lives in Modi’in. He and his family have been very warm and welcoming to me this year and I greatly appreciate it. Although I have had many exciting Shabbat experiences all over Israel, I have also enjoyed the weekends that I have stayed in yeshiva. Spending Shabbat at Torat Shraga has given me a greater appreciation for the yeshiva. It has also given me additional time to develop relationships with my rabbis and the other students.

Who is a teacher at Torat Shraga you connect to especially well?

I connect very well to my musar chavruta, Simon Italiander. He is a young, knowledgeable and very relatable guy. He has really served as a positive role model for me this year.

Which is one of your favorite classes at Torat Shraga?

One of my favorite classes is the Tuesday night “Lessons from the Parsha” class given by Rabbi Yossi Fuchs. I always find this class interesting and thought-provoking.

What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?

I am looking forward to continued growth in my Jewish learning and to becoming more mature and preparing for college and my future.

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