During his recent visits to the USA our esteemed Alumni Director, Rabbi Moshe Pindrus, had the opportunity of meeting with a number of former talmididm and to acquaint them with the successes and the problems of their beloved Ohr Somayach.
This ALUMNI UPDATE is our way of sharing with you as well these successes and touching upon the problems. With the help of Hashem we have been able to achieve these successes despite the extremely difficult financial situation of the yeshiva resulting from the severe cut in government aid which has seriously affected the entire yeshiva world in Eretz Yisrael. Despite the problem, enrollment in all of the Ohr Somayach departments - Introductory, Intermediate, Beis Medrish, Center, Derech and Ohr Lagolah - is at a record high.
Now let us offer you a glimpse of some of the other things that are going on in the broader world of Ohr Somayach International.
RECORD JLE SUMMER PROGRAMS
The popularity of Ohr Somayachs Jewish Learning Exchange Programs reached a new height this summer as more than 120 young people from North America and the United Kingdom came for learning and touring programs ranging from two to five weeks.
In addition to the traditional midsummer JLE program this year witnessed early May and August programs to accommodate university students with different schedules.
Leading a group of students from the University of Miami on one of these JLE programs was a former JLE participant, Rabbi Sammy Bregman, head of outreach at the campus there. Accompanying JLE participants from UCLA were O.S. alumni Rabbis Elie Bloom and Benzion Klatzko. Rabbi Avraham Jacobovits, head of Machon LTorah in Detroit, also brought a large group of the students he deals with throughout the year.
THE SPINOFF OF SUCCESS
In the course of its history Ohr Somayach has succeeded in spinning off more than a dozen programs which have become thriving independent institutions. The impressive list includes programs in Hebrew, Russian, Spanish, French and Persian. The latest spinoff, necessitated by budgetary limitations, is the Kesher Program which is now at a new location and under the independent management of Rabbi Yaacov Bradpiece and Rabbi Michoel Schoen. Best wishes for success to this latest offspring.
YOM IYUN SUCCESSES
The success of past Yom Iyun programs conducted by Ohr Somayach in various North American cities has led to an increasing demand for more of these programs offering the broader community an opportunity to hear Ohr Somayachs world-class lecturers.
To set the tone for the Yamim Noraim two massive Yom Iyun programs were conducted in New York and Chicago in early September. More than a thousand people came to the Lincoln Center in Manhattan to hear talks by Rabbi Berel Wein, Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb and Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky. The moderator was alumnus Jonathan Rosenblum.
Another large crowed filled the North Shore Center for Performing Arts in Skokie, Illinois to hear most of these same speakers. More modest Yon Iyun programs featuring some of these speakers were held in Boca Raton, Florida and at the University of Miami campus.
DVC TAKES OFF
The outstanding outreach efforts of alumnus Rabbi Avrohom Goldman, head of Ohr Somayach Philadelphia, has resulted in the creation of the Delaware Valley College (DVC) of Jewish Studies which offers local youngsters who are not able to come to Israel an opportunity to do some serious part-time study. Assisting him in this historic breakthrough is Rabbi Eli Kopel, who got his start in the field of outreach as a highly successful volunteer teacher at Ohr Somayach Jerusalem.
PESACH MISSION A GREAT SUCCESS
The Pesach Mission to Israel conducted by Ohr Somayach this year was so successful that another one is being planned for the coming holiday on an even grander scale. Over 150 people spent a most enjoyable Pesach in the Nirvana Hotel on the Dead Sea. Among them were the families of some alumni, including that of Yaacov Kaplan of Toronto. The scholar-in-residence was alumnus and senior lecturer Rabbi Dovid Kaplan and lectures were given by the roshei yeshiva and staff members of O.S. Jerusalem.
For details on the upcoming mission which will be held in an outstanding location, contact Rabbi Shlomo Simon at: firstname.lastname@example.org
WHERE ARE THEY TODAY
Ohr Somayach is justifiably proud of the thousands it has introduced to a Torah life who are now enriching the life of their communities throughout the world. We also have great nachas from the fact that some 400 products of the yeshiva and its Ohr Lagolah program have taken positions as roshei yeshiva, rabbonim, teachers and outreach workers and served in them with distinction.
Some of our talmidim also end up in the most interesting places.
Take for example Reuven Abedon. Before coming to Ohr Somayach almost three decades ago he had studied Chinese and Economics at Harvard. Today he is the director of the Shanghai, China supervision office of the Baltimore-based Star K kashrut organization.
Then there is Avrohom Cantor who became a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force after completing his courses in the Ohr Lagolah Program. After a few years in Germany he was appointed chaplain in the Pentagon in Washington.
And, finally, there is Michael Pelikow who came to Ohr Somayach almost a year after the rescue work he did following the 9/11 disaster as a member of the New York City Fire Department. After a very productive period in the yeshiva he returned to his lifesaving work in the Big Apple.
A FINAL NOTE
We are certain that you share with us our pride in the successes of the yeshiva and all of its past and present talmidim.
We hope that you will also empathize with the current struggle of Ohr Somayach to maintain and expand its efforts and that you will do whatever you can to help.
Best wishes for a healthy winter and a blessed year.