Saturday, January 28, 2023

As is often true in a yeshiva, it’s the rosh yeshiva who can best convey the Ikar (essence) of an important matter. This was certainly the case at the groundbreaking of the new Hillside campus of Yeshivas Be’er Yitzchok, the post-high school yeshiva gedola and kollel affiliated with the frum community in Elizabeth, on Sunday, December 4.

As Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Avrohom Schulman stated in his speech at the event, for a parent, the simcha at a chasuna is not only tied to the marriage, “it’s all that took place to get there.” He compared this awareness to the many stages of growth, and occasional struggles, that the Yeshiva experienced before it reached this joy-filled day when they officially start building the new Hillside campus. Rabbi Schulman looked back on the efforts to get the yeshiva accredited, and the partnership he experienced with the board of directors, as well as the difficult economic times the school weathered over the years.

Rabbi Schulman said, “There is so much hashgacha that went into this day,” and related one incident, “the miracle of Hillside.” Rabbi Schulman shared that the vote before the Hillside planning board on whether or not to approve the building of the new campus was deadlocked at three to three, which would have stopped the plans. But then a planning-board member announced that he was changing his vote, to approve it, which was a situation the yeshiva’s lawyer said he had never seen before.

The formal program of the groundbreaking began with remarks by Rabbi Elazar Meyer Teitz, the rav of the city of Elizabeth. Rabbi Teitz noted that in the earlier years of the growth of the Jewish Educational Center in Elizabeth, he and other leaders realized that the community was missing a critical component—a yeshiva gedolah. He said “We were inspired to hire Rabbi Schulman” to lead this yeshiva, and he was happy to have served as the “shadchan” between Rabbi Schulman and Danny Kahane, who has become one of the yeshiva’s staunchest supporters.

Rabbi Moshe Mendel Glustein, the rosh yeshiva of yeshiva gedola of Montreal, father-in-law of Rabbi Schulman, offered a dvar Torah to illustrate the importance of this moment in the development of the yeshiva. He noted that when Moshe Rabbeinu noticed the sneh (burning bush), Hashem commanded him to take off his shoes, because he was standing on holy ground. The Orach HaChaim asks: If it was a holy place, how could Hashem lead him there in the first place, without cautioning him? Rabbi Glustein answered that Moshe Rabbeinu had the capacity to come to an ordinary place and see the potential there, which elevated that place and made it holy. The same principle applies as well to a yeshiva, which identifies and elevates the potential in both its talmidim and in the places the yeshiva calls home. He stated, “This land upon which we are standing right now, we have the power to elevate.”

Danny Kahane of Englewood thanked Rabbi Teitz and the Elizabeth community for all their support of the yeshiva. He recalled walking with Rabbi Teitz during the weekend of his son’s bar mitzvah, 29 years ago, and telling him that the Elizabeth community needed its own Kollel. It took a few years to lay the groundwork, but five years later, Rabbi Schulman was hired and they set to work to build the yeshiva. He thanked the elected officials of Hillside for their support of the building of this new campus. He stated, “I’m a businessman and I can tell you, this yeshiva is one of the best investments I’ve made.”

Yitzi Zargari, executive director of the yeshiva, related to The Jewish Link before the event that the yeshiva was conceived 29 years ago and officially opened in 1998, with the blessing of Rabbi Teitz, and first served bochurim returning from learning in Eretz Yisrael, later expanding to include the kollel of Elizabeth. In 2014, the yeshiva began accepting yeshiva high school graduates who wanted to learn closer to home before going to learn in Eretz Yisrael. The yeshiva is accredited by The Association of Institutions of Jewish Study (AIJS), which the U.S. Department of Education has certified as a nationally recognized accrediting agency. This accreditation allows students of Yeshivas Be’er Yitzchok to earn a bachelor’s degree through their Torah study at the yeshiva.

Speaking at the event to The Jewish Link, Rabbi Yisroel Wenick, a teacher in the yeshiva’s night seder, said, “Even though this is a groundbreaking, the yeshiva has been flourishing for over 20 years. This new property is taking the yeshiva to an entirely new level.”

Shmuel Spinrad, a member of the Yeshiva’s kollel for four and a half years who now lives in Passaic, stated, “I think this is an amazing step in the progress of the yeshiva. They’ve needed it for a while. Baruch Hashem, they are getting there now.”

Shimi Globman, an alumni of the yeshiva’s first class, who came with his 13-year-old son, said,  “For me, this is a dream come true. The yeshiva started with dorm rooms in apartments and a room in the North Ave. shul. They slowly bought properties and expanded. Now, the yeshiva will own its own campus, which will allow it to do a lot more for the community and for the neighborhood.”

Eli Erlanger of Passaic, a parent of a current student in the yeshiva, said, “This yeshiva and the rabbonim really know how to build talmidim. The yeshiva has seen amazing growth and I think it’s because they really care for the students.”

For more information on Yeshivas Be’er Yitzchok, please call 908-354-6057 or visit www.yeshivasbeeryitzchok.org.

By Harry Glazer

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