On Sunday, Chof-daled Sivan, June 22, 2014, many members of Anash of Los Angeles joined with friends and supporters of Yeshivas Bais Toras Menachem for a Gala Tribute Graduation, celebrating the unique institution of higher learning’s completion of its sixth successful year.
The event also included a tribute to this year’s graduates: Shmuel Eliyahu, Avraham Telnoff, Avraham Nassi, Ari Dubrowski, Zalaman Heidingsfeld, Eliyahu Esakahn, Sholom Domnitz, Yisroel Levy, Yossi Levy, Yaacov Eckhaus, Yossi Weiss, Mendy Hecht, and Nesanel Klafter.
The elegance and ‘class’ of the event was befitting the honor and pride being conveyed to each and every one of its bachurim. First and foremost, Tehilim was said for the then three missing young men who R”L are sadly no longer with us, and for the safety of Yidden in Eretz Yisroel and all over the world.
Rabbi Levi Bennish asked each of the bachurim to also think of 3 boys who are perhaps ‘lost’ from Yiddishkeit and “bring them back”, be m’karev them to Torah and Mitzvos, as a Hachlata of the Siyum.
Rabbi Mordechai Katz, dean of the program, expressed some thoughts about the special day of Chof Ches Sivan (when the Rebbe and Rebbetzin first came to America), which was later that week, and how we see the continuity of the Rebbe’s work through many institutions throughout the US he established, including Bais Toras Menachem.
There were Smicha certificates for those who successfully completed the four chlaokim or sections, of the Code of Jewish Law required for Rabbinical Ordination. This milestone was the result of countless hours of study under the thorough and patient tutelage of Rabbi Levi Chazan, our Smicha Maggid Shiur and a noted Talmud Chacham in our community.
Many of the program’s other students were awarded certificates recognizing the completion of two of the four Chalokim (this year being “Ta’aruvos” and “Shabbos”) and intend to return for the next semester beginning after Tishrei to complete the program and to duly receive their Smicha. Rabbi Chazan congratulated this year’s students and reminded them that the Smicha they receive does not in any way connote an ‘end’ of any sort, but rather a juncture from which to propel them forward to increase in their learning even more, since they now have an extra responsibility, and are expected and required to increase in their level of Yiras Shamayim.
The designated “testing Rav” for the specialized Smicha program is the renowned and widely respected Posek, and Av Bais Din D’kehilla of Los Angeles, Harav Elchanan Tauber. Rabbi Tauber, who has been a strong proponent of the program since its inception, has expressed how impressed he has been by BTM’s students’ overall dedication to their studies and their fine grasp of the material.
A “Nigleh” certificate recognizing the quota of Halochos covered in Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aroch, Oruch Chaim, a prerequisite to the formal Smicha test, was awarded by our Nigleh Maggid Shiur Rabbi Heshy Mishulovin. This is in accordance with the Rebbe’s explicit instruction that all Bochurim should be knowledgeable and conversant in day-to-day practical Halochos. Some topics covered, along with the original Suygos in Gemara, were the laws of Kaddish, Krias Sh’ma, T’fila, Erev Shabbos, Kiddush, Seudas Shabbos and T’filos Shabbos.
This past year marked the launching of our all new exciting partnership with ORT College of Los Angeles, spearheaded by Rabbi Levi Bennish. This pilot program enabled our boys to receive college instruction in an appropriate setting, in a men’s-only cohort, revolving around our Yeshiva schedule.
Rabbi Bennish was very pleased that six students were awarded certificates from ORT College, recognizing their completion of one year, which included a fine grasp of and passing grades in ten modules of Business Management.
“Courses covered this year included economics, database application, Microsoft Office, marketing and critical thinking, to list a few. Many of these subjects are basic and fundamental for any job in today’s work world,” said Rabbi Bennish. In one more year IY”H students will be eligible to earn an Associate’s Degree (AAS) in Business Management deeming them ready for employment in a wide variety of options.
The new incoming students can slide right in to the course, as a different module is studies each month independent of what was covered previously. If there is a need for a GED class, we plan to arrange that; depending on the interests of incoming students, computer courses can be a possibility as well.
Bais Toras Menachem was established in 2008 in response to an obvious void in the greater Chabad community in terms of quality programs catering to post-Mesivta students who are looking for something different and innovative. By balancing a well-rounded curriculum of Smicha studies, Chassidus, Halachah and Hashkafa with career training in the afternoons – the program has enjoyed phenomenal success in keeping its students engaged on all levels.
Mrs. Rivky Katz, administrator, also points to the program’s numerous extra-curricular activities as providing vital enrichment and support for its spiritual and social aspirations. These include regular Chassidishe Farbrengens with ‘choshive’ Anash members of the LA community, (HaRabonim Naftoli Estulin, Shaya Berkowitz, Tzvi Boyarski, Moshe Levin, and Levi Kramer, etc.) in addition to guest lecturers, trips, hikes, barbecues, Shabbatons, and specialized in-house Shabbos experiences.
“A healthy body is a healthy soul; we are always encouraging our boys to get out in the sun and take hikes, kick a ball around, and enjoy Hashem’s world,” she says.
The students of BTM are often engaged by many of the local Shluchim who involve them in outreach programs (especially surrounding the Yomim Tovim such as Chanukah and Purim) each according to the student’s individual skills and inclinations. The students are likewise warmly welcomed and embraced by the community of Los Angeles, making them feel as an integral part of the “Anash Family”, which they certainly are.
Many BTM students are B”H married and have embarked upon their next stage in life to build a ‘Bayis Ne’aman b’Yisroel’ upon the Y’sodos of Torah and Mitzvos, especially equipped with the practical knowledge gained by obtaining Smicha, as the Rebbe wanted each man to be the ‘Rav of his home’.
“As we embark upon our 7th year, we are very enthusiastic about achieving new heights in terms of what this program has to offer,” says Rabbi and Mrs. Katz. “We look forward to accommodate many more sincere Bochurim who can appreciate the beauty and benefits of a rich Yeshiva/Smicha learning experience when offered in a well balanced, positive and warm environment.”
To inquire further regarding BTM for the 2014-15 academic year, please email [email protected] You may also contact Mrs. Rivky Katz at 323-495-3010 or Rabbi Katz at 323-936-2777 ext. 103.
To make a donation to our very worthy and critical cause, please use the donate button on our website (which is presently under construction) at www.Smicha.net.