A recent article in The Jewish Link, “Learning Goes Beyond the Classroom: Reflections on Four Years at TABC,” by Meir Jacobs, made me want to reflect on my high school experience as well. I recall four years ago when the daunting decision was upon me and my parents, and how intense the process was. We had heard various rumors and reputations about all the schools, but we spent extensive time looking at all of the local options, attending open houses, parlor meetings and school visits; it became almost a joke how often I visited the schools. Ultimately, while I was impressed with all of the schools, it was MTA that seemed right for me. The truth is that before the process started, MTA was not the front-runner, despite the fact that my father was a graduate. But after multiple visits (they were exceptionally allowing in terms of visits, which I realized spoke very highly of their transparency), it soon became clear that at MTA I would be able to partake in an experience and opportunities that were simply not available anywhere else.
Four years later and I could not have been happier with my choice, as I can see clearly how much I have been able to grow and achieve over my time at the school, thoroughly enjoying the day-to-day experience along the way. I was provided with amazing opportunities in all areas that allowed me to push myself—with support and confidence—to be my very best.
In Torah, I cherished the relationship I was able to develop with my rebbi each year. While I had heard the reputation that the top shiur was amazing but the other shiurim were less so, I am proud to say that I was not in the “top” shiur, but the reputation could not have been further from the truth. My rebbi each year was dedicated and devoted to our shiur, which enabled us to develop a deep connection. We enjoyed shiur shabbatonim, barbecues, Chanukah parties, etc. Even as I prepare to graduate, I am still close with my rebbeim from ninth, 10th and 11th grades and plan to remain close long after graduation. The Torah experience does not stop in shiur, as I had the chance to learn from and witness world-renowned YU roshei yeshiva, whether it was a chabura with Rav Hershel Schachter or with Rav Moshe Weinberger, or even just watching Rav Mayer Twersky learn in our beit midrash; I know these are unique experiences in which most people outside MTA don’t have the benefit of partaking.
I also very much enjoyed the fact that I always had young role models on campus. My camp counselors and madrichim attend YU, and through programs at MTA they became my madrichim here as well. We had the chance to both learn together and to just hang out together. Having them around was a huge benefit.
In general studies as well, I found the opportunities to be incredibly enhanced. Not only did I enjoy my courses, which were both engaging and challenging, but I also had a variety of unique experiences. Whether it was dreaming up and building inventions in scientific engineering, hearing from a college professor, interviewing a Holocaust survivor and creating a documentary through “Names, Not Numbers,” partaking in a business plan workshop in the MTA LEAD program that is conducted with the business school, attending a production on a book we read in English, the list goes on and on. I even earned college credit this past year taking computer science courses at the college!
I could not reflect on my experience without talking about incredible experiences outside the classroom. A highlight for me was the time I was able to spend during sophomore year as an exchange student at Yeshivat Makor Chaim in Kfar Etzion via MTA’s unique exchange program. Being immersed in the culture of Makor Chaim not only brought to life my love for Israel, but it enabled me to see different styles of learning and to work to bring some of that unique style back to MTA. The variety of extracurricular programming undoubtedly played a major role in my love for the school—whether it was the yeshiva-wide shabbaton, color war, grade trip, grade night out, regular “Teaneck Tischim”—once again—the list goes on and on. There are also so many clubs from which to choose. Each year, the programming seemed to grow and it was clear that Rabbi Kahn made a concerted effort to grow the programming and community even more.
While I did not participate on any of the athletic teams (intramurals excluded), MTA has boisterous school spirit. Whether it was at the “Winter Classic,” “White Out,” “Blue Out,” playoffs or Sarachek, it was exciting to pack into the Max or the Lions’ Den to support our fellow Lions.
Finally, another unique aspect of the MTA culture is the diversity of the student body. I love the fact that I have great friends from all over New York/New Jersey area and beyond. I have friends from Monsey, Queens, Westchester, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and even Peru! I know that these are friends whom I’ll take with me for the rest of my life (we have a saying… Lions for Life!).
It is for these reasons and many more that I could not have been happier with the decision my parents and I made four years ago. I’m glad I spent the time researching because I realized that my underdog option was the right school for my future. Why settle for adequate when you can strive toward greatness?
By Seth Jacobs
Seth Jacobs, a Bergenfield resident, is a senior at MTA. He will iy”H be attending Yeshivat HaKotel next year, followed by Yeshiva University.