Kislev 5764

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Become a Supporter Library Library

Dear Alumnus,

Our esteemed Alumni Director, Rabbi Moshe Pindrus, just returned from a visit to many of our alumni in North America and has brought us warm regards from you. We return these regards by sharing with you eight highlights of the past year to add a special glow to the eight lights of Chanukah.


Every alumnus who visits Ohr Somayach these days is thrilled to see the tremendous amount of activity resulting from the record enrollment in the yeshiva. There have never been so many English-speaking talmidim in Ohr Somayachs 32-year history. All departments Introductory, Intermediate, Beis Medrish, Center, Derech, Kesher and Ohr Lagolah are literally bursting at the seams with high quality talmidim. All of the foreign language departments Hebrew, Russian and Spanish which we established and are now off-campus are also doing outstanding work.


KESHER, the youngest program in Ohr Somayach, is making an historic breakthrough in the new frontier of kiruv by offering a second chance to youngsters from religious homes who became "children at risk". This fast-growing program, headed by two distinguished alumni, Aaron Brody and Huna Friedland, has had exceptional success in mainstreaming their students into the upper levels of Ohr Somayachs regular programs.


Chanukah witnesses an invasion of Ohr Somayach by some 40 university students and young professionals from North America and the United Kingdom. Our South African branch, headed by alumnus Larry Shain, sent another 50 young people from South Africa and Australia on its annual SHORESH program which has been renamed OHRSOM. Two of our alumni from South Africa, Howard Jackson and Yehuda Shull, played important roles in arranging this visit and guaranteeing the success of the program.


The Chicago community was taken by storm when three of Ohr Somayachs world-renowned lecturers came to town last May to conduct a Yom Iyun at the North Shore Center of Performing Arts. Over a thousand people were greatly inspired by talks given by Rabbi Berel Wein, Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz and Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky in a program entitled "A Light at the End of the Tunnel Torah Vision: Hope for the Future". The success of the event, which has become an annual event in Chicago, was largely due to the efforts of two alumni, Rabbi Yehuda Albin, director of Ohr Somayach Chicago, and Chaim Salenger, a Chicago native who manages the Ohr Somayach Residence Facilities in Jerusalem.


The incomparable Torah atmosphere of Ohr Somayach has been regularly attracting groups and individuals from abroad to spend time learning at the yeshiva. Alumnus Yacov Kaplan and Ohr Somayach Forest Hill director Rabbi Eli Karfunkel led a mission from Toronto whose learning program centered around a shiur by the Rosh Hayeshiva. Other groups were the Philadelphians led by Stan Sved and the Brooklynites including New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind.

A major mission is being planned for Pesach in a five-star Jerusalem hotel. Any alumni interested in participating should contact the New York office or Rabbi Shlomo Simon at Ohr Somayach Jerusalem.


The special bond which ties American Jewry to Eretz Israel will be the focus of the Ohr Somayach International Solidarity Dinner to be held on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 at Hotel Pierre in Manhattan. Last years dinner drew about 500 of the most prominent leaders of the New York business community and this year we hope for an even greater turnout. Alumni Pinchas Kasnett and Jay Margolis play a major role in the success of these dinners. Guests will receive a beautiful edition of Pirkei Avot written by Ohr Somayach lecturer Rabbi Berel Wein.


The WWW.OHR.EDU Website of Ohr Somayach continues to grow in popularity. More than half a million Web pages are viewed worldwide each month. We send weekly productions directly to more than 200,000 subscribers and estimate that our highly commended material reaches more than a million people. The Jewish Agency gave our Website the Jewish Website of the Month award for its Chanukah edition because of its excellence in graphics, design and content. A new Website has been developed for our South African branch (WWW.OHRSOMAYACH.CO.ZA) and another is almost completed for our Toronto branch.


The Ohr Somayach operations in South Africa and Australia are enjoying unprecedented success. In Johannesburg Ohr Somayach has assumed responsibility for an elementary school with alumnus Brian Connack serving as vice-principal. The spiritual leader of one of the ever-growing number of Ohr Somayach synagogues, Rabbi Warren Goldstein, rabbi of our "Sunny Road Congregation", has been appointed Chief Rabbi of South Africa. Alumnus Danny Sackstein is helping Rabbi Jonathan Shippel in Ohr Somayach Cape Town and Rabbi David Blackman is expanding Ohr Somayach operations in Sydney.

Enjoy these eight highlights and have a Happy Chanukah!

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