The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 1 February 2003 / 29 Shevat 5763

Spotlight on an Alumnus - Rabbi Yona Vogel

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"The winner of the contest is Yaakov Sholom Vogel!"

Thunderous applause from thousands of youngsters and their parents gathered in a huge auditorium in the Kiryat Hayovel section of Jerusalem greeted the announcement. For Yona Vogel, the winners father, it was another glorious milestone in the long road he has been successfully traveling ever since he entered Ohr Somayach over a quarter of a century ago.

Yaakov Sholom was representing his school, the Sanhedrin Talmud Torah of Chinuch Atzmai in Har Nof, in the finals of the nationwide competition in mishnayot and halacha organized by the Degel Yerushalayim Torah Culture Foundation.

This seventh grader was one of the 29 finalists chosen from amongst the more than ten thousand who participated in the competition dedicated to the memory of Hagaon Rav Chaim Shmulevitz, zatzal, longtime Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshivat Mir in Yerushalayim. Paying tribute to this Torah giant and to the youngsters who were following in his path with their efforts to memorize significant portions of Torah Shebal Peh (Oral Law) were distinguished roshei yeshiva, rabbis and communal leaders.

The winner himself, who received a beautiful Shas (set of Talmud) as his prize, is following in the footsteps of his father who began his Torah studies at Ohr Somayach in Yerushalayim, and continued in the branch of Givat Ada. After marrying a girl from a prominent Yerushalayim family he lived and learned for many years in the Ohr Somayach community in Zichron Yaakov. It was there that he developed his skills as a sofer (scribe) and in 1983 the Jewish Learning Exchange of Ohr Somayach published his Mishnas Sofrim translation of the Mishna Berurah laws of writing the Ashurit script used in Sifrei Torah, tefillin and mezuzot.

Not long after returning with his family to Yerushalayim, Yona established the Machon Daniel program offering learning opportunities for senior citizens and others who needed the unique structure of this program. (Alumnus Yitzchok Trattner is one of its outstanding teachers.) He has since organized a similar program in Beit Shemesh and, based on his experience in heading a Talmud Torah, has established a Yeshiva High School, Lev Daniel, in that city as well. In his Torah publication MD Weekly, Yona shares his Torah insights and those of his colleagues with the general public.

The entire Ohr Somayach Family wishes Mazal Tov to Yona and his family and to Yaakov Sholom for making Ohr Somayach proud of its grandchildren.

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