Shevat 5763

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Dear Alumnus,

Our last Alumni Update before Chanukah reported eight highlights of Ohr Somayach activity corresponding to the eight lights of Chanukah. We begin this one with a brief report on the Chanukah celebrations at the Yeshiva.


The exciting increase in the number of talmidim in all departments of the Yeshiva made it impossible this year to hold our Annual Chanukah Mesibah in the main dining room as in past years. It was therefore decided to have separate mesibot for the Beis Medrish, Center, Derech and Introductory-Intermediate (which was combined with a Sheva Brochos for one of the Intro talmidim), and to gather all talmidim together the next morning, the third day of Chanukah, for a special Chanukah Gathering. This innovation proved to be highly successful. The individual mesibot provided an opportunity for the rabbeim and talmidim of each group to express themselves in Divrei Torah and song in a manner appropriate to that department. The Gathering in the Beis Medrish fostered a spirit of unity as a shmuse by the Rosh Hayeshiva was followed by enthusiastic singing and dancing to music provided by some of our own talented talmidim.


YONA VOGEL "Father and Son"

The Ohr Somayach Family is as proud of its "grandchildren" as it is of its "children - talmidim". It was therefore a great thrill for us when Yaakov Sholom Vogel won first place in the nationwide contest in mishnayot and halacha in which over ten thousand youngsters competed. This seventh grader is following in the footsteps of his father who came to Ohr Somayach a quarter of a century ago and continued his learning at our branches in Givat Ada and Zichron Yaakov. After becoming an expert sofer, Yona wrote a translation of the "Mishnas Sofrim" of the Mishneh Berura which was published in 1983 by the Jewish Learning Exchange of Ohr Somayach.

Yona has established Machon Daniel learning centers in Yerushalayim (where alumnus Yitzchok Tratner is one of the maggidei shiur) and in Beit Shemesh. In the past he ran a Talmud Torah in Yerushalayim which he eventually developed into the Lev Daniel Yeshiva High School in Beit Shemesh. He also publishes the Machon Daniel Weekly of Torah literature.


How does one combine Torah studies at Ohr Somayach with studies in Chinese and Economics at Harvard? When Reuven Abedon was appointed director of the new Shanghai, China office of the Baltimore-based "Star K" Kashrus Supervision organization all of the pieces came together.

When Reuven came to Ohr Somayach two decades ago he brought with him a research paper he had published in Harvard about "The Over-representation of Jews in Cults". His thesis was that a hunger for spirituality led Jewish youth to pasture in foreign fields. He wanted the real thing for himself, and his colorful career in learning, teaching and finance attests to his success in achieving this goal. So if you buy some product from the Far East with a Star K hechsher you will know that it is the work of "our man in China".


Yonoson Rosemblum is well known throughout the English-speaking world for his brilliant series of biographies for ArtScroll Publications, his role as director of "Am Echad Jewish Media Resources" in Israel and his weekly column in the Jerusalem Post. He has also been a guest speaker at the annual national convention of Agudath Israel of America and a frequent contributor to that organizations "Jewish Observer". His eloquence as a spokesman for Torah Jewry recently brought him an invitation to be a speaker at a "Yarchei Kallah" seminar of the Jewish community in Amsterdam. Participating together with him in this event was a former maggid shiur of Ohr Somayach, Rav Yaakov Schatz, who today heads the Amsterdam Kollel.

An enthusiastic profile on Yonoson appeared in the local Jewish newspaper and its writer was alumnus David Gaillard.


We have already become accustomed to wishing Mazal Tov to alumni on the birth of grandchildren. But in the case of Larry Shain, who heads the highly successful Ohr Somayach operation in the Southern Hemisphere (Johannesburg, Cape Town and Sydney) there was a special dimension to our simcha. Larry, who has three married children in Israel, came here to visit his first grandchild. This gave him an opportunity to also see how well the "Shoresh" group of some 50 youths from South Africa and Australia were integrating into the educational programs of Ohr Somayach and Neve Yerushalayim. It also provided "Grandpa Larry" with an opportunity to meet with the hanhala of Ohr Somayach and to discuss the future of our programs for the Southern Hemisphere.


  • The outreach affiliate of Ohr Somayach in Manhattan, the JEWISH ENRICHMENT CENTER (176 Madison Avenue, bet. 33-34 St.) is, in addition to its ongoing lectures and kiruv activities, beginning to attract alumni to come there in their spare time and learn with people dropping in. Alumni who would like to join in this important effort should contact alumnus Mordechai Mindell (Tel. 212-889-5532) who directs this vibrant facility.
  • Back-to-back dinners for Ohr Somayach, with the participation of alumni, will be taking place on January 13th and 14th. The first will be the Miami Beach dinner of the South Florida friends of the Yeshiva organized by alumnus Shmuel Kalos. The second will be the Ohr Somayach International Solidarity Dinner in the Pierre in Manhattan. (In regard to this dinner one of our Beis Medrish-Ohr Lagolah talmidim received a call the other day from his sister who works for a New York firm whose head has a regular weekly learning session with one of our alumni. The boss informed his staff that he had bought a table at the Ohr Somayach Dinner and all of them would attend as his guests. The sister excitedly cried out, "Thats where my brother is studying to be a rabbi!" which gave her boss another reason to be proud of his association with the Yeshiva.)
  • Warren Newfield, a "Shoresh" participant from Johannesburg back in the eighties and today a leading patron of Ohr Somayach in Toronto, spent a week of Torah learning in the Beis Medrish of Ohr Somayach in Yerushalayim. It coincided with the visit of 55 participants of Shoresh and Jewish Learning Exchange from North America, the U.K. and the Southern Hemisphere. All alumni of Ohr Somayach, Shoresh and J.L.E. should take a cue from Warren and come to Yerushalayim to recharge their spiritual batteries with some solid learning.

Until then let this UPDATE whet your appetite!

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