May 22, 2024
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May 22, 2024
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Teaneck’s Heichal HaTorah Blazes New Paths With Siyum HaShas

Teaneck—248 people from around the world learning 2711 dapim of Shas in just five weeks – many said that it could never be done. Yet the seemingly insurmountable dream was realized for Teaneck’s Heichal HaTorah on Sunday evening, May 17th, when over 300 people from across the community came together at the Teaneck Jewish Center to celebrate a Siyum HaShas that can only be described as breathtaking.

The siyum was the highlight of a gala dinner event held that evening marking the culmination of year-two for the yeshiva. The Yeshiva brought together 248 participants who learned six dapim each mainly from the local communities of Teaneck and Bergenfield, but others throughout New Jersey, the United States, North America, and even around the world. Learning towards the siyum began a mere five weeks earlier and Heichal students were joined by their families and community Rabbis in spreading the word and garnering momentum.

Learning commenced on Yom Hashoah, symbolically in defiance of the sinister Nazi intent, and was led by Rabbi Mordechai Willig, shlita, the Rabbi Dr. Sol Roth Professor of Talmud and Contemporary Halachah at YU’s RIETS program, Rosh Yeshiva at the Mazer School of Talmudic Studies, and Rosh Kollel at RIETS. The final verses were completed on Sunday evening just before the dinner by Rav Hershel Schacter, shlita, Rosh Kollel in RIETS’ Marcos and Adina Katz Kollel and Nathan and Vivian Fink Distinguished Professorial Chair in Talmud. The siyum was attended by a dais full of local and renowned rabbonim and the sanctuary itself was packed. Music and dancing broke out with the final “amein”.

Following the siyum celebration, guests were invited into the main ballroom for the dinner gala. The room was magically transformed to mirror the elevated mood. Many guests turned out for the occasion that were not Heichal parents or even within a year or two of applying. Many shared that they have young families and want to help fortify and grow a yeshiva which they consider an integral part of the community. As Bergenfield resident Yael Burack shared, “My son is not even close to the age of Heichal, yet the yeshiva is bringing in incredible rabbonim, speakers, shiurim and musical events to the community. It is in all of our interests to help support this yeshiva since we are all benefitting from its existence. We are so excited to be here and be a part of this exciting evening!”

The dinner recognized a local Teaneck couple for their contribution to the Yeshiva, both prior to its opening and during its first two years. Rabbi Jonathan and Elana Kaplan have served as members of the Parent Planning Committee and spent countless hours meeting with prospective parents, interviewing faculty, and coordinating with community leaders. Jonathan also volunteers as the assistant basketball coach for the yeshiva’s basketball team. Elana established the Heichal Chesed Program, which creates opportunities for students to visit with residents of local nursing homes, and she consults regularly on areas related to curriculum development and calendar planning. The Kaplans are also active in the greater Jewish community – Jonathan teaches weekly classes for the Jewish Learning Experience and delivers a weekly Daf Yomi shiur at Congregation Beth Abraham, and Elana is co-president of the CBA Sisterhood and treasurer of the CBA Kiruv Committee. Both Elana and Jonathan have led yearly trips to Israel with the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP), and they are the proud parents of Shmuel (HH ‘17), Gavriel (HH ‘19), Avigail, and Miri.

Also recognized at the dinner was Heichal faculty member Mr. Michael Germann, who teaches Algebra and Geometry. Mr. Germann has taught math at public high and middle schools for over thirty-five years and has served as principal of the Secaucus Continuing Education program for ten years. He received his BA in Math Education from William Patterson College and an MA in Administration and Supervision from Jersey City College. Mr. Germann also serves as a part-time instructor of Algebra and Honors Geometry at Bruriah High School in Elizabeth, NJ. In presenting the award, his student 10th grader Netanel Abramov said that not only does he make math accessible and enjoyable for all of his students, but even more importantly, he exemplifies an impressive even-mannered and upstanding nature. “Life is full of ups and down,” he said, “sometimes we are happy, sometimes we are sad, but Mr. Germann is the type of person, who no matter what you are going through in your personal or social life, that when you walk into his classroom, you are immediately enveloped in the positive atmosphere that he creates…..Mr. Germann is not merely a teacher, but is a role model to us all.”

Every single one of the yeshiva’s rebbeim and general studies faculty have been hand-picked after deep and lengthy consideration, and were ultimately selected not only for their superior educational acumen, but for their keen ability to personify and model the ideals upon which the yeshiva was founded. Rav Stechler shared that Heichal HaTorah’s primary goal is “to inspire our Talmidim to love Torah learning, grow in yiras shamayim, and exemplify sterling midos. In our small Yeshiva,” he said, “the Rebbeim focus on creating warm relationships with their Talmidim. Tisches, in-Shabbos programming, weekend getaways, and other recreational trips infuse the Yeshiva with an exciting ruach. The Yeshiva’s second goal is for our Talmidim to excel in learning, with a focus on developing their reading and analysis of Gemara. Every boy in the Yeshiva makes a siyum on a masechta each year. A rigorous Yeshiva Seder schedule, coupled with chavrusah learning and night Seder, ensure that our Talmidim meet these goals. The Yeshiva’s third goal is for all students to receive a quality General Studies education, which will prepare them for college and their future careers. Heichal HaTorah is proud to offer multiple study tracks, including AP classes in English, History, and Science, ensuring that each student is challenged to reach his potential.”

In just two short years, the yeshiva had gone from a kernel of an idea to a thriving school with its third year predicted to almost double its student body. According to dinner MC and president of the Heichal board of trustees Yehuda Jacoby, indeed the yeshiva is already enjoying the fruits of its trailblazing labor. “At Heichal there has been tremendous growth. The growth has been from the amount of boys coming to the yeshiva and to the development of the boys in their learning, their davening, their middos, and their overall development as they become young men. At work, I look at numbers, and solid growth is always considered a good thing. As I think about Heichal, l’havdil, it is a growth stock. It is like the stock Priceline of yeshivas.”

Jacoby shared some what he called “quick facts” about the yeshiva’s growth over the past year. “We had over seventy applicants for next year’s 9th grade, “ he said, “ and with a diligent selection process, the yeshiva will grow its student population by over 70% next year! Attendance at this year’s dinner is up by over 40%, and funds raised tonight (so far) are up over 80%! We have added AP classes to the curriculum and brought in Dr. Kalman Stein to consult in the direction of the general studies program. And as we head to next year, we have added two Rebbeim to our world-class faculty, Rabbi Yisroel Teichman and Rabbi Aryeh Westreich. Rabbi Yisroel Teichman is an experienced high school educator, currently teaching at Ateres Beis Yaakov in Monsey and is the Rav of Kehillas Zichron Ytizchok of New Hempstead. Rabbi Westreich is currently a member of Kollel Elyon of REITS, and is the assistant Ram of Rav Koeningsberg’s shiur (at REITS as well). Both of these men are serious Talmidei Chochomim and bring excitement into the classroom.”

With such an impressive track record in only two years, there is no telling how far Heichal HaTorah will continue to succeed and positively impact the greater community in the future.

As Rav Stechler shared so poignantly during his opening remarks, “I woke up from a dream in the middle of the night a little earlier this week, and suddenly after all the hard work, it dawned on me, ‘We did it!’”

For further information, please contact Heichal HaTorah at (201) 335-0633 or [email protected]

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