It's Not Quite That Simple

For the week ending 5 June 2021 / 25 Sivan 5781

Moshe Males (24)

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Moshe Males (24)

Telzstone, Israel

Michlalah L’Minhal Degree in

Structural Engineering, 2020

Mechina — Since 2019

Many years ago, my wife and I moved to Cleveland, Ohio from New York. We were newly married. While the Jewish community in New York was friendly, it was not overly welcoming. By contrast, the Midwesterners were openly friendly and welcoming. The contrast between the two regions was brought home to me when I first entered an elevator in a downtown Cleveland office building. The other people in the elevator, total strangers, and probably non-Jews, took the twenty seconds that we were together to introduce themselves and inquired after my welfare. I was almost too shocked to answer. That would never happen in a midtown New York elevator. In our first three years of living in the religious neighborhood of Cleveland Heights, we literally had invitations for every Shabbos and Yom Tov meal.

I mention this because Moshe Males’ father is from Cleveland, and, upon meeting Moshe for the first time, I immediately recognized that warmth, openness, friendliness and optimism that are characteristic of the denizens of that place. Although Moshe was born in Israel, he was brought up in Telz Stone — a community established by the philanthropist and Clevelander Irving Stone, and which was for a number of years the site of the Israeli branch of the Telshe Yeshiva of Cleveland. Although Telz Stone may be filled with Jews from all over the world, a touch of the Midwest is still felt there.

Moshe is the third of nine children and had a typical charedi education. He went to Tiferet Yehuda in Telz Stone for cheder and Netzach Yisroel in Har Nof for yeshiva katana.

He chose not to continue on to yeshiva gedola right away but to spend some gap years working. He was good with his hands and had a fascination with building. For the next few years, he learned the trades necessary for renovations and construction, and worked in that field.

At eighteen Moshe decided to get an advanced degree in Structural Engineering so that he could be licensed to build multistory buildings in Israel. He did all the coursework to complete his bagrut (an advanced academic high school diploma) and then was accepted to Hamichlalah L’Minhal — an Engineering school in Jerusalem.

In his third year of college, he decided to reconnect with his learning, and was encouraged by his parents and friends to check out Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem. Rabbi Guy Matalon, the head of the Mechina Program, convinced him to come to us. He started at the Yeshiva in the mornings, attending college in the evenings. A little over a year ago, during the Covid-19 crisis when the Yeshiva was in lockdown, Moshe moved into the dorm so that he could continue learning Torah. He graduated with his degree in Structural Engineering, and in June 2021 will defend his thesis and project in front of a panel of engineers for his license. In the meantime, he has been honing his building skills by renovating the Lauffer Building on our campus.

When asked about his future plans, he answered that before he starts working as an engineer he needs to spend more time learning in Ohr Somayach. He will soon sit for another exam — the entrance farher to the Beis Midrash program. We wish him all the best.

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