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For the week ending 23 January 2016 / 13 Shevat 5776

Yaakov Zeliger

by Rabbi Shlomo Simon
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

Age: 27
Toronto, Canada
Schulich School of Business, York University

BA in Accounting

According to tradition, a boy is born with a yeitzer hara (inclination to sin) and only acquires a yeitzer tov (inclination to not sin)at bar mitzvah. Yaakov Zeliger is a proof to this dictum. He was born into a traditional, although not observant, Jewish family in Toronto. He was blessed with strong influences from his frum (religiously observant)grandparents, and when he reached bar mitzvah age, Yaakov became religious.

Although he attended a secular high school, he was a member of NCSY and continued to grow spiritually. He was accepted into the Schulich School of Business of York University, the premier business school in Canada, and studied accounting.

While at university he met Jon Jaffit, then a student, but now a rabbi doing campus kiruv (outreach) in Toronto. Jaffit had attended the Center Program at Ohr Somayach and highly recommended it to Yaakov. In the summer of 2007 Yaakov came to the Center Program for the summer. He came back after his second year and stayed for a year at the Center, then finished his degree at the university and came back to Ohr Somayach to learn full-time.

He learned in Ohr Somayach for over five years, graduating from the Center Program to the Beit Medrash, and then eventually learning in the kollel of Rabbi Reisman for two years. During that time he got married and had three children. He now has a daughter aged four, a two-year-old son and a two-month-old daughter. He recently moved back to Toronto to get his CPA degree and hopes to find a good job afterwards. He is learning in kollel in the mornings and evenings, and is taking courses to prepare him for the CPA exams in the afternoons.

Yaakov recently sent a letter to the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Nota Schiller, summing up his and his friends’ experiences at Ohr Somayach, and expressing his hakarat hatov (gratitude). With his permission, we quote from his letter:

I wanted to express a reoccurring feeling, one that has been shared by multiple chaverim [friends] who previously and currently are learning in the yeshiva.

First off, we have tremendous appreciation for the work done by all individuals and rabbanim who are running the yeshiva in any capacity.

The yeshiva as a whole has changed our lives, both major changes like Shabbosand kashrus observance, but also less external changes such as overall hashkafa [Torah outlook], ability to handle difficult times, ability to handle interacting outside the physical walls of the yeshiva, and overall constant growth in ‘avodas Hashem’. We all feel that based on interactions with talmidim of other institutions we see we have been given clear haskafa and ability to "assimilate" in the ‘yeshivashe world’, and not stand out as a sore thumb, and still maintain the ability to interact with the external world.

The Center is full of a team of amazing rabbanim who give time, patience and overall stability. It seems clear to me that they are producing talmidim who are balanced, self-critical and, therefore, stronger in their beliefs and better able to handle life’s vicissitudes.

The Center, Rabbi Y. Dallah, and Rabbi Y. Peretz, completely changed my life and made me feel ready to handle the ups and downs to come.

I am indebted to them all.

Thank you for all the hard work on our behalf of your talmidim.

Hatzlacha rabbah!

Yaakov Zeliger

As one of our kiruv rabbis, Rabbi Zalman Corlin, said: “When you have talmidim like Yaakov Zeliger, who express their gratefulness so eloquently, all the efforts we make, all the frustrations we suffer and endure, all the doors slammed in the face of our fundraisers — it’s all eminently worthwhile.”

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