May 21, 2024
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Rafi Kapitanker Is Making it Happen at MMY

Rafi Kapitanker is studying at Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim (MMY) in the Baka neighborhood of Jerusalem. She grew up in Fair Lawn, attended Yavneh Academy for elementary school and Ma’ayanot for high school. Her family davens at Anshei Lubavitch.

Her next stop? Stern College, to major in business.

I chose to go to MMY because it offered many things I was looking to get out of my year in Israel. MMY has a great balance of Halacha and Tanach classes at a high level, and incredibly smart and dedicated teachers to learn from.

Going into the year, I wanted to form a stronger connection to the land and appreciate being able to live in it. I also wanted to grow spiritually and develop as a person.

One of the highlights I’ve had so far was the very first night, shortly after landing in Israel. Rabbi Katz took us to visit Robinson’s Arch, where he explained the history and gave a very moving and emotional speech. We ended the night davening by the Kotel.

Another highlight was spending the very first Shabbos in MMY. We had a beautiful Kabbalat Shabbat in school, and ended Friday night off with a tisch that went late into the night.

The biggest difficulty for me is being away from my family for a long period of time for the first time in my life. I am the oldest child, so I really didn’t know what to expect, and I have never been away from home for more than three weeks. It definitely is an adjustment, but everyone in MMY is here to help in any way they can.

Being in Israel and MMY have exceeded my expectations. I feel so at home and comfortable. I’ve been to Israel a few times previously and one culture shock that gets me every time is how independent everyone here is from such a young age. On the bus I see kids as young as 6 riding alone (something you would never see in New York).

I feel that I adjusted well. The technology today helps a lot. I can call my mom anytime, even if I need help with figuring out what to buy for dinner or other help.

So far my favorite place I have been to for Shabbos is Shiloh. I went to Shiloh with my friend to stay by her great-uncle. On Friday, her uncle took us on a jeep ride through his vineyards, which was an incredible experience. In honor of the Mishkan that was once based in Shiloh, there is a shul there that is designed to look like a replica of the Mishkan. On Shabbos day, we went to this shul to daven and it was one of the impactful experiences I had, as I was davening to Hashem, feeling His closeness and really experiencing emotional uplifting as if I was at the Mishkan.

It’s hard to pick just one teacher I connect with especially well, but so far Rabbi Abell has impacted me the most. The class he teaches is called Bein Adam Leyotzro. In this class, we discuss different themes in Tanach and connect them to our Avodat Hashem. I walk away from every class with new insights on how to strengthen my connection to Hashem and with lessons that apply to my relationships with other people as well.

One of my favorite classes is Mrs. Moskowitz’s Sugiot B’meforshei Rashi. I have always loved learning Tanach. Rashi is the first commentary we learn when we are little. This class takes Rashi’s commentary to a different level using Super Commentaries to explain Rashi. We spent almost four weeks focusing on four words that Rashi said about Nadav and Avihu. I really enjoy being able to delve into the little details that create a whole new story line for one pasuk.

I am excited to travel the land, through tiyulim and going to cool places for Shabbos, forming lasting relationships with teachers and friends. I love MMY and can’t wait to see what the rest of the year holds.

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