May 28, 2024
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Yitzi Rothschild Enjoys Torah Learning and Chesed Leadership In Israel

The next Spotlight Israel featuree is Yitzi Rothschild. Yitzi is studying at Yeshivat HaKotel in the Old City of Jerusalem. He is from Teaneck, New Jersey, and attended the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of New Jersey (RYNJ) for elementary school and Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC) for high school. His family davens at the Congregation Rinat Yisrael.

While his plans for next year are not yet set in stone, they will either involve Shana Bet or Yeshiva University.

Why did you choose to learn at Yeshivat HaKotel?

I attended this yeshiva for its incredible atmosphere and wide variety of learning opportunities. There’s such a great chevra here too, and I’m excited for the ability to grow in many ways this year.

What kind of goals do you have for your year?

Going into the year, I planned a few goals for myself. One of them is the ability to understand the Gemara from different viewpoints of mefarshim other than Rashi and Tosfot. Another goal is to increase my understanding of Halacha in order to help make practical decisions in the real world. A third goal of mine is to take advantage of the year and being able to learn about the Land of Israel through the lens of Tanach.

What has been one of the biggest highlights of your year so far?

Wow! There are so many to choose from. I would probably have to say going to Hebron for Shabbat Chayei Sara and singing Kabbalat Shabbat with thousands of Jews from across the world definitely stood out. I couldn’t remember the last time I sang and danced with that many Jews.

Another special moment of the year is almost every day having the opportunity to be able to look from the rooftop of Yeshivat HaKotel onto Har Habayit. It makes me think about how in just six days we were able to recapture one of the holiest places in Jewish history. Every time I see it, I wonder when will I be able to smell the incense.

What kind of challenges have you faced coming to Israel?

Probably the most difficult part is being away from my mother’s home-cooked food. It’s so good; especially her meatballs and deli roll. Also, another hard part of being away from home is being separated from all of the people I’ve made close connections to through Friendship Circle. For around seven years, almost every week I would hang out with some special individuals and go on Shabbat walks, out for lunch, bowling, play with dogs, to 7-11, wandering around the mall, or just playing Uno—it was always an experience that I will never forget.

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?

Going into yeshiva, I did not want to set myself expectations because maybe my expectations would be wrong. Going in, I knew what I was signing up for: a yeshiva with great learning, rebbeim, potential to learn any topic within the realms of Torah, Zionism, a serious atmosphere and much more. I felt that my high school, TABC, gave me the right building blocks for what I needed to start yeshiva.

I’m a person who loves to embrace new cultures. All of my Israeli friends tell me that all I need is a pair of Teva sandals, a hiking pack and to eat shakshuka to fit in. Plus, Yeshivat HaKotel has the feeling of being the center of the world because of all the students who come from around the world. It’s cool because every person comes for the same reason—to grow in their learning and experience Israel at its finest.

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

Probably my most favorite place to travel to for Shabbat is to the home of my rabbi, Rav Cutler, in Even Shmuel. Driving through the yishuv spoke to me a lot about how our country is growing. Even Shmuel is only half built and expanding quickly to make more homes for people. The expansion of Highway 6, a new freeway created to make it easier for people to travel to the south from Jerusalem, is allowing new olim to move there. This just sets a tone for what Israel is doing and becoming, and I’m so happy I had the opportunity to experience it firsthand!

What are some of your favorite extracurricular activities this year?

Outside of yeshiva, I am working with two major organizations. One is Yachad, whom I’ve worked with for the past two years and have attended many of their shabbatonim and summer programs. This year I am on the board of Yachad Israel and in charge of planning fun activities for shabbatonim. I also attend many of their programs throughout the year. For example, I just attended Yachad’s annual 5K Color Run in Tel Aviv with over 800 runners.

I’m also on the Shalva ambassador board for Americans. I have the pleasure of attending Shalva once a week with a few friends. It’s an opportunity for me to try a different program with similar goals. The other day, I even had the privilege of meeting Yossi Samuels, the son of the couple who created Shalva.

Working with both of these organizations adds tremendously to my Israel experience—it really gives me the opportunities to grow outside of yeshiva in ways that I can’t even describe.

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

Over the coming year, I’m looking forward to many things. Of course, I cannot wait to continue to increase my Tanach, Halacha and Gemara scope. At the same time, I cannot wait to continue traveling the country and experiencing the land in similar perspectives as our ancestors did. Whether it was an inspirational Shabbat, going on random hikes to springs or chilling in the Old City, I can’t wait to see where else life will take me this year!

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