May 21, 2024
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Paramus Launches Community Kollel

The Jewish community in Paramus has hit the ground running once again with a new Paramus community kollel happening Monday through Thursday from 8:15 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (followed by Maariv) at 140 Arnot Place.

The idea for the kollel has been in the works among the community leaders in Paramus for more than two years. Rabbi Daniel Wolff, of Congregation Beth Tefillah in Paramus, Rabbi David Pardo of the Sephardic Congregation of Paramus (SCOP), and Hersel Benji, a member of the Sephardic Congregation of Paramus (SCOP), were able to bring the idea into fruition with the help of Rabbi Yehuda Brand from Passaic, who Rabbi Wolff said was the perfect person to lead such a program.

After exploring lots of options, and recruiting the efforts of many rebbeim from the Passaic and Monsey area, in August of 2018 the kollel was finally established.

“I’m extremely thrilled that it’s going so well,” Rabbi Wolff said. “It’s actually a dream that I’ve had to have a place to learn locally and a place where people can go in the evenings and learn with a group of intelligent people.”

In terms of future developments, Rabbi Wolff hopes to have learnings take place in the mornings and afternoons as well.

“It’s important to have a Torah presence in the neighborhood,” he said. “It’s a great learning atmosphere.”

Rabbi Brand described the goals of the kollel, which is currently open for men only:

“We started a nice learning program where people who want to improve Torah- learning skills can come and learn with an experienced chavruta or one-on-one,” Rabbi Brand said. “Some people come once a week, some people come everyday; it’s flexible.”

The program is meant to attract a wide array of learners of all ages and from all backgrounds looking to learn everything from Judaism in general to more in-depth Talmudic or halachic studies––whether they’re longtime learners or not.

People from all over the Bergen County area are invited to join and learn with the different rebbeim or at a more individualized level.

Ben Weber, 27, from Fair Lawn, has been attending once a week since the chagim ended in September. He wanted to get out of his comfort zone and learn in a more interactive environment.

He appreciates how, if he has a question during his Talmudic studies, he can ask any of the rebbeim in the room, who are always up for deep discussion.

“It’s a very welcoming environment and also thought provoking,” Mr. Weber said. “It’s great because you have so many resources.”

Mr. Benji is glad to see Paramus become a place of vibrant Torah learning. The organizers are excited about the growing amount of attendees they have each week, and they are looking forward to meeting even more people who are interested.

“There are no obligations and no commitments,” Mr. Benji said. “It’s an open door.”

Both children and adults come in to learn about the weekly parsha, while others come in to talk to the rebbeim about questions they have regarding Judaism.

Taraneh Yaghoubzar, whose 10-year-old son Rachamim has been attending the kollel every night for the past eight weeks, has enjoyed hearing about his son’s enthusiasm over the program.

“I had to push him to go only the first time,” she said. “After that he kept saying to me, ‘When are we going? It’s 8:15 already; we’re going to be late!’”

The rebbeim help Rachamim with his Navi and Chumash homework, but his favorite topic to learn is the weekly parsha. He brings a dvar Torah back every week to say to his family.

Regular attendees like Weber appreciate the diverse array of people in age and background that attend, and he is looking forward to seeing even more new faces.

“I love the guys there,” he said, “I’d love to see more people take advantage; it really caters to everyone, and it’s nice to see that different groups and different types of people are giving it a chance.”

Rabbi Pardo, of the SCOP community in Paramus, is proud of the progress the community members have made and is looking forward to an even brighter and busier future with the kollel.

“It’s really inspiring to watch the shul transform into a constant makom Torah, and I’m excited to see how that impacts the community in the long term,” he said.

By Elizabeth Zakaim

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