Since 2014, Kolel Torah has caused a rebirth of Torah learning and transformed countless Jewish lives across 26 countries in the Former Soviet Union and Europe.
In its inaugural year, Kollel Torah was comprised of just twenty five locations. Now, in its third year, the organization has grown to more than 100 centers for Torah learning.
Gathering in these cities, 3000 men meet daily for the study of Talmud, Jewish law, and Chasidic texts, while 1500 women in more than 60 select cities convene weekly for intensive learning. As in the traditional kollel system, each participant receives a stipend and is expected to pass a test to ensure comprehension.
“We know that Chabad representatives are doing great things in their cities, holiday programming, schools for children, Shabbat meals, but organized learning was a challenge,” explains Rabbi Bentzi Lipsker of Petersburg, Russia.
He joined forces with Rabbi Moshe Weber, his colleague in Dnepetrovsk, Ukraine, to design this systematic study system geared for adults.
A team of rabbis in Berdichev prepares the texts, in Hebrew and Russian, so that each kollel can follow the same curriculum. The 18th volume was delivered last week.
“We saw a real desire for learning in an authentic way, but until now, there was no framework,” Weber explains. We created Kollel Torah because we believe strongly that every person should have the choice, and the chance, to study Torah.”
For nine years, Rabbi Yechiel Levitansky struggled to get a minyan for Shabbat and holidays, never mind daily prayers. He would spend hours on the phone inviting people to come to Shabbat meals or holiday programs.
When he heard about Kollel Torah, he was eager to sign up, but concerned that he wouldn’t find the requisite 10 men needed to register. A month in, there were 12 regulars. These days, 20 men gather at 7:15 each morning for prayers and study.
The men, between the ages of 21 and 65, come before work or university.
“It looks like any shul in the world,” Levitansky says proudly. Over coffee and cake, “everyone has a chance to read the text and ask questions and we explain and discuss the various topics. Last year, when we learned the laws of Shabbat, it was completely novel. They couldn’t get enough of it.”
“Kollel Torah has literally transformed my people, my city, and me,” says Levitansky. “These men didn’t know each other before, but we are now a real club.” People flock to his events and for the last 18 months, there has been a minyan every Shabbat and Jewish holiday. The new-found connections run deep. Two men became business partners after meeting at the Kollel and one member, a surgeon, has helped many people with medical matters.
On his father’s tenth yahrzeit, just a few days ago Levitansky was joined by a full minyan from the kolel for shacharis, mincha and ma’ariv, something which would have been nearly unfathomable in the years prior to Kolel Torah.
Today, people flock to his events and for the last 18 months, there has been a minyan every Shabbat and Jewish holiday. The new-found connections run deep. Two men became business partners after meeting at the Kollel and one member, a surgeon, has helped many people with medical matters.
“Kollel Torah has literally transformed my people, my city, and me,” says Levitansky. “These men didn’t know each other before, but we are now a real club.”
Today Kolel Torah is running a joint “Giving Day” with the ambitious goal of raising $3,000,000. To become a partner visit www.charidy.com/kt to donate to all or choose your specific city to support.