July 24, 2024
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Spotlight Israel: Dani Hagler

This month’s Spotlight Israel interviewee is Dani Hagler. Dani is studying at Lev Hatorah. He initially grew up on the Lower East side, though moved to Teaneck at the age of four, and attended RYNJ and TABC. He davens at Congregation Beth Aaron, and his family is very involved there.

His next stop? YU (Sy Syms Business School).

Why did you choose Lev Hatorah?

I chose Yeshivat Lev HaTorah because I want to grow spiritually, physically (I heard the food was top notch), and maybe one of the most important reasons—to meet a good group of friends. Lev is known for recruiting kids with good middot and to me being surrounded by people with good middot is the most important aspect to growing as a person.

What kind of goals did you have for your year?

My goals for the year is to find my personal connection to Torah so that I can better appreciate learning Torah and tefillah. I hope to build strong and sincere relationships with rebbeim and friends, and travel the land through tiyulim which will help me appreciate Eretz Yisrael.

What has been the biggest highlight of your year so far?

Rosh Hashanah has been the most inspiring so far. In yeshiva I had the opportunity to learn the true meaning of Rosh Hashanah, and what Aseret Yimei Teshuvah and Yom Kippur are all about. It’s much easier to connect and talk to Hakadosh Baruch Hu when you understand how the process of teshuvah works and feel the words you’re saying.

The most exciting part of yeshiva so far was going to the kotel and then touring the Old City. Another highlight of being in Israel for the year is being able to visit anyone that either I or a friend knows—everyone here is so open and kind and they will take you in for a Shabbat with a smile, no matter how well they do or don’t know you.

What kind of challenges have you faced coming to Israel?

The biggest difficulty so far has been not being able to understand everything because my Ivrit is not very fluent. I can speak enough to get by, but when an Israeli responds in fluent Hebrew it’s difficult to understand them.

How has being here been different from your expectations? Did you feel prepared for your experience or did you have culture shock, and how so?

Things haven’t really differed from my expectations. The only difference in my expectation versus reality is that I didn’t realize how intense a full day of learning really was before I got here. I assumed a full day was the ten hours of a school day at TABC—but, in reality, my day here is from 7:30 a.m. until midnight. It’s an exhausting day, but a meaningful one.

Where is your favorite place to go for weekends/Shabbat so far?

I love going to the Sapersteins. Sherri and my mom grew up in Massachusetts and went to school together. She’s an amazing cook and it’s really nice to have a home-cooked meal. I love going to them because the whole family takes me in with open arms and I enjoy hanging out with her kids.

What are you most looking forward to from the rest of your year?

I’m looking forward to continuing my learning, to continue strengthening my relationships with friends and rebbeim, and continue exploring Eretz Yisrael.

By Tzvi Silver, JLNJ Israel

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