In addition to inspirational and rigorous Torah classes, Ma’ayanot offers many opportunities to learn Torah outside of class, for its own sake, lishmah. Under the leadership of Rabbi Donny Besser, mashgiach ruchani, students start each day learning with faculty and friends at Morning Midrasha, participate in a weekly Parsha Club, study Mishna Yomit and prepare for the YU-NCSY Bronka Weintraub Bekiut program. Students also spearhead multiple Torah publications and participate in the International Bible Contest/Chidon HaTanach and in Torah Bowl.
Recently, YU and NCSY announced that Ma’ayanot senior Miri Hochberg won first place in the daf division of the bekiut program, a national program in which students learned an entire masechet on their own and took tests demonstrating mastery of the material. As Miri explained, “I have a passion for learning Torah and I wanted to challenge myself by studying Gemara outside of the classroom.” As a 10th grader, Miri also won the program’s amud division, as did her sister Ora (‘20)!
Miri is also co-editor-in-chief of Ma’ayanot’s weekly parsha publication, Talelei Orot, since, as she explained, “I want to share my passion for Torah with the Ma’ayanot community, and bring the school together across all grades to share words of Torah.” Co-editor Aviva Kurz agreed: “I get to see a variety of other students’ insights on the parsha, and to take part in spreading Torah, an incredible activity that I hope to continue doing in the future.”
Seniors Talia Katz and Mia Polonetsky, co-editors of Ma’ayanei Torah, Ma’ayanot’s Yom Tov publication, agreed. As Talia put it, “Ma’ayanei Torah affords me the opportunity to elevate my own holiday experience, as well as that of my peers, through divrei Torah by our fellow classmates. We are consistently impressed and inspired by the quality of their contributions.”
Several Ma’ayanot students also participated in the Chidon HaTanach/International Bible Contest. Junior Nava Price explained, “My appreciation for Torah has increased tremendously. Chidon provides an enjoyable, independent way to learn Torah, and there’s nothing as satisfying as finishing multiple sefarim of Tanach every year.” Junior Ayelet Poupko also appreciated “the opportunity to gain mastery of so many sefarim in Tanach and to expand my learning skills.” Sophomore Tari Bieler summed up her Chidon experience: “I love getting to learn parts of Tanach that I don’t normally get to learn in class, and learning a variety of sefarim. It has helped me grow tremendously in my Torah learning and I am so excited to continue!”
Torah Bowl, an inter-school competition, also draws many participants. Junior Rosa Marks explained, “Torah Bowl is really a competition within yourself: each game is a test of my own dedication, responsibility and learning. The lessons and growth I have gained from Torah Bowl have also carried through to other Torah learning opportunities, made me more driven to learn and propelled me to heights I couldn’t have reached without my teammates.” Sophomore Suri Seplowitz’s words about Torah Bowl apply equally to all of Ma’ayanot students’ Torah lishmah learning: “There’s no better way to build friendships and to connect with others than through a shared love of Torah.”