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For the week ending 12 September 2015 / 28 Elul 5775

Grand Siyumim at Ohr Somayach

by Rabbi Shlomo Simon
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

The week before Tisha B’Av is a period of deep aveilut (mourning). Beginning with Rosh Chodesh Av we reduce our simcha by refraining from haircuts, listening to music, drinking wine and eating meat. But at Ohr Somayach this year the wine was flowing with musical accompaniment while celebrating the simcha of Torah. The Beit Midrash and the Center Programs made "gala siyumim". Many students completed the study of various tractates of the Talmud. The combined number of misaymim was more than 25. The Center Program had completed Berachot while the Beit Midrash students completed Kiddushin. In addition, more than 20 of the talmidim who made a siyum on one of these mesechtot also completed Masechet Maccot.

The Rabbis of each program were in attendance, along with the Rosh HaYeshiva, Rav Nota Schiller, shlita, and the Rav of Kehillas Ohr Somayach, Rav Yitzchak Breitowitz, shlita.

Among the Beit Midrash misiyamim was Pinchos Horowitz, 24, from Windsor, Ontario. Pinchos comes from a traditional home, observing kashrut and having traditional Friday night meals. He attended public school and went to a traditional, but ​non-Orthodox, Sunday school. By the time he finished high school his growing interest in Judaism had motivated him to learn all he could online. However, that was not sufficient for Pinchos. His desire to grow closer to G-d through Torah study led him to apply to the Derech Program at Ohr Somayach. He entered Derech in Elul of 2012 and made rapid progress. Today he is in Rabbi Connack's shiur, one of the highest shiurim in the Beit Midrash. He's the oldest of four siblings, and his transformation has led his younger siblings to become mitzvah-observant. They are now attending Jewish schools in Detroit, which borders Windsor, Canada. His siyumim on Kiddushin and Maccot are his first siyumim in Gemara. "It's an amazing feeling, the culmination of a whole year's effort, and realizing how much I've accomplished in a relatively short time.”

David Rubinstein, 24, from Memphis, Tennessee, is in Rabbi Yitchak Dallah’s shiur after starting out in our Derech Program after high school. He made a siyum on both Kiddushin and Maccot. When asked how he felt about his achievement he said, “I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing and I’m maximizing my potential.”

Dovid Alman, 22, originally from Santiago, Chile, and recently from London, England, is also in Rabbi Dallah’s shiur and made a siyum on Maccot. He said, “I have a feeling of accomplishment and I feel inspired to keep learning.”

Aaron Jacobs, 20, from Sydney, Australia is part of "Pisga", a group of young men from South Africa and Australia, in the Center Program. He is from a religious family and went to a Jewish school through high school. Aside from learning full-time in the Yeshiva he is also studying for a degree in Criminology from the Open University of Australia. His secular studies are done during bein hasedarim (between 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm each day) and during bein hazmanim (between terms). He began in the Center Program in January 2014, and by December of 2014 had made a siyum on the Gemara Succah. The week before Tisha B'Av he made a siyum on Berachot. He is now in Rabbi Yaffe's shiur, the highest iyun (in-depth) shiur in the Center Program. Commenting on his recent siyum,Aaron says, “It's always good to have a goal to work toward. One can then look back and say: I've accomplished something.” Unwilling to rest on his laurels, he has started the Gemara Succah a second time and hopes to make another siyum by next Pesach.

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