February 24, 2024
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February 24, 2024
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Meet a Few of the Torat Imecha Nach Yomi Siyum Attendees

Special guest and Nach Yomi Siyum Participant Jen Airley of Ramat Beit Shemesh (l), who lost her son in Gaza six weeks ago, with OU Women’s Intiative Director Rebbetzin Dr. Adina Shmidman.

In closing her moving address to the assembled Torat Imecha Nach Yomi Siyum attendees of over 350 women from throughout the U.S,. Jen Airley presented Rebbetzin Dr. Adina Shmidman, founding director of the OU Women’s Initiative, with a tof Miriam, a cymbal reminiscent of the instrument played by the biblical Miriam as she led the women of Israel in song and dance after their safe emergence from the waters of the Red Sea. The significance of this gift from Airley, mother of recent fallen soldier Binyamin, HY”D, to Rebbetzin Shmidman was an acknowledgement of her having created a special sorority of sisters united in a community of Torah learners. “The words of the Torah from our sisterhood are resonating with us and changing us. One day more of living is one day more of learning.”

Throughout the Nach Yomi Siyum gathering, whether at the two introductory shiurim, the siyum itself, the elegant reception and buffet luncheon, the feelings of warmth and camaraderie were pervasive. In speaking to individuals and families who had come to celebrate their momentous completion of 742 chapters in Nach, the prevailing emotion was the joy of accomplishment. In many cases, the joy was enhanced by sharing their achievement with female members of their extended families.

Elizabeth Kratz, associate publisher/editor of The Jewish Link, attended the siyum with her twin daughters Hannah and Zippy. An inveterate learner of myriad areas of scholarship, culture and the arts, Kratz has been part of a chabura of Tanach study for more than eight years. The original chabura was led by Rebbetzin Dr. Lena Shalem, who has since made aliyah with her family to Mitzpe Yericho, and completed Torat Imecha’s Nach Yomi twice already. For the past three years, Kratz has learned b’chevruta with Bergenfield neighbors, including Shifra Shapiro and Chaya Adler. Daughter Hannah often listened in and had the privilege of learning sefer Melachim with Rebbetzin Peshie Neuburger in advance of her bat mitzvah. The beginning of the third cycle of Nach Yomi for the Kratz “girls” is a special opportunity for them to fill in the gaps and learn all of the seforim “in one go.” Kratz expressed her admiration for Rebbetzin Shmidman’s impact as a natural leader and a virtual “force of nature” in creating the impressive umbrella of the OU Women’s Initiative.

A large group of Nach Yomi participants from Congregation Beth Abraham.

Meeting Chaiky Guttenberg, originally from the Lower East Side and now residing in Elizabeth, New Jersey, was nothing less than an awe-inspiring honor. Guttenberg’s fervent wish was to mark her recent 92nd birthday by attending the Siyum Nach Yomi with daughters Suri Norowitz, Etti Stavsky, Malke Mayer and daughter-in-law Sandy Guttenberg. She said that she worked hard at learning the daily perakim, secluding herself in a quiet room to concentrate, and often listening to the shiur twice. She prides herself on her own learning and endeavors to inspire others to be productive in their advanced years. In addition to her daily learning schedule, for the past eight years Gutenberg has been sharing the recitation of Tehillim with great-granddaughters in Dallas. Since October, the nonagenarian has been creating beaded bracelets reading “Am Yisroel Chai.” To date she has sold, and passed on to Shai Graucher for sale, over 700 pieces whose proceeds go to supporting IDF chayalim. Gutenberg has begun the third cycle and looks forward to its completion in two years.

Fran Sicklick from Lawrence was accompanied by daughter-in-law Tamar Sicklick and granddaughter Eliana Sicklick, all three having completed the second cycle of Nach Yomi. More than 20 years ago, Fran Sicklick participated in AMIT’s learning program, including Chumash and Neviim Rishonim. After that program was discontinued, she pursued her learning with Rabbi Ya’akov Trump of the Young Israel of Lawrence/Cedarhurst. She has encouraged over 60 women in her community to study Nach Yomi. Granddaughter Eliana began her Nach Yomi cycle at MMY in Israel. She completed it upon her return and study at Stern College. Grandma Sicklick gifts every member of the family who completes a cycle of Nach Yomi with a meaningful sefer. So far these have included the Mossad Harav Kook Atlas of Tanach and the Artscroll Pocket Editions of Neviim Rishonim. She hopes to continue this gifting for future cycles of Nach Yomi.

Fran Mermelstein of Teaneck, a highly-regarded past director of early childhood at RYNJ, completed both of the last two cycles of Nach Yomi. She is currently engaged in the third cycle as she feels that every one of the knowledgeable presenters offered a special approach to the text, which has broadened her understanding and appreciation of Nach. Daughter Faygie Meisels of Woodmere began learning in Israel seven years ago but rejoined to complete the second cycle along with her mother. Granddaughter Rebecca Mermelstein, residing on the Lower East Side, was delighted to see several of her friends currently studying at Stern College who also completed the second cycle of Nach Yomi, including Riki Posner from Long Island and Gabriella Rosman from Florida. Rebecca Mermelstein hopes to continue on with the third cycle, inspired by Savtah.

For the locals attending, one of the highlights of the event was seeing the large number of out-of-towners who flew in from cities around the U.S. As we approached the venue, we saw Julie Orelowitz, an early-childhood educator from Cleveland, Ohio, suitcase in hand, who had spent Shabbat locally so that she could attend the siyum. She would be heading back home right after the event but was delighted to have been part of the large sisterhood of learners. “I am feeling overwhelmed that I have been privileged to be a participant in this community of striving, single-minded women,” she said. “Learning Torah is the ultimate unifier of the Jewish people. May the Nach Yomi program continue to be a zechus for klal Yisrael.”

Faye Meyers of Chicago flew in with her daughter Chaviva, currently studying at Stern College. Meyers, an accountant by profession, teaches at the Bais Yaakov High School in Chicago as well as the Sarah Hartman Institute of Touro College. She is the blessed mother of four sons and three daughters, living in the U.S., Israel and Canada, including long-term kollel learners as well as computer scientists. In addition to Nach Yomi, she studies halachot through the Tzurba program presented online by Rabbi Shalom Rosner of Beit Shemesh. She is currently studying Hilchos Shabbos with Tzurba. Meyers was delighted to join the siyum festivities as she was able to visit her local children while celebrating the completion of her second cycle of Nach Yomi. Despite her full schedule, she hopes to continue on for the third cycle.

Without a doubt, one of the proudest participants at the event was Hennie Wolf of Kew Gardens, beaming mother of Rebbetzin Dr. Adina Shmidman. She shared, “There are no words to describe nachus. From an early age Adina had a thirst for learning. At age 5 she was so proud of herself memorizing all the books of Tanach in order. The event was a testament to Adina’s commitment to Torah for women. We are so very proud of her and all her accomplishments. Chazak v’amatz! To all the learners!”

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