Friday, May 27, 2022

Yehuda Koslowe is studying at Yeshivat Har Etzion (“the Gush”) in Alon Shvut. He grew up in Bergenfield, attended Moriah for elementary school and TABC for high school. His family davens at Congregation Beth Abraham.

His next stop? Princeton University.

Why did you choose to study at the Gush?

I was particularly attracted to Yeshivat Har Etzion because its learning methodology is very similar to that of the classical yeshivot from the past few hundred years, yet it also values and is very much in touch with the realities that exist outside of the yeshiva, and it stresses the importance of interacting with and positively influencing the broader community. Additionally, having heard such amazing things about particular figures in Yeshivat Har Etzion—mainly the roshei yeshiva and rebbeim—I wanted to be exposed to them and gain as much as possible from them.

What kind of goals do you have for the year?

Most of my goals coming into the year were relatively narrow and specific, such as wanting to learn specific sefarim or attend specific shiurim. I also came into yeshiva with broader goals, such as wanting to mature as a person, develop a better work ethic, build a connection to Israel and create meaningful experiences that I will be able to draw on even after I leave yeshiva.

What have been some of the highlights of your year so far?

Experiencing Simchat Torah in yeshiva has definitely been the highlight of the year so far. Given that the busy schedule in yeshiva does not always provide enough time to reflect, it was nice to take a step back for one day and just reflect on all of the Torah opportunities that exist in yeshiva and how fortunate I am to be able to learn from such amazing people.

In particular, the reading of Chatan Torah by Rav Yoel Bin-Nun, a paratrooper from the Six-Day War who was among the founders of Yeshivat Har Etzion, was moving. Looking out of the yeshiva windows into the hills of Jerusalem while reading the final passage of the Torah—the story of God showing Moshe the Land of Israel and promising that He would one day give it to Moshe’s descendants—along with someone who has dedicated his life to building up the State of Israel was a very touching experience.

What is one of your favorite classes at Gush?

My favorite class at Gush is Rav Menachem Leibtag’s weekly Chumash class in which we read Chumash from a literary lens.

What kind of challenges have you faced coming to Israel?

The biggest challenge of Yeshiva so far has been adjusting to the demanding schedule and the Israeli food.

How has your year been different from your expectations?

I think I was well prepared for yeshiva, having heard so much about the yeshiva in the past and having learned from such great rebbeim in high school, who prepared me for the serious learning that takes place in yeshiva. There has, of course, been some culture shock in being thrust into an Israeli yeshiva, but none that has been too overwhelming.

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

I am lucky to have close family living in Israel whose homes are always open for Shabbat. I love spending time with my first cousins in Modi’in and Ramat Beit Shemesh.

What are some of your favorite activities to do during your free time at yeshiva?

During my free time I like to play basketball, read a novel or talk with friends.

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

I look forward to taking advantage of all of the opportunities that continue to come my way this year.

By Tzvi Silver/JLNJ Israel


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