After this summer, North Ranch, CA will never quite be the same. An upscale, picturesque neighborhood, located in the north of the Conejo Valley, North Ranch is home to thousands of Jews who were never serviced by a synagogue. Now, not only do they have a beautiful Chabad house, but they were treated to a summer yeshiva in their very backyard.
“There is something uniquely powerful about learning one-on-one with a Chavrusa,” Rabbi Shlomo Bistritzky, Director of the new Chabad Center in the area, explained. “What better way to initiate our new Chabad house,” he said.
The Chabad house, under the auspices of Chabad of the Conejo, is officially slated to open in a couple of weeks, however at the onset of the 3 week Yeshiva program dubbed “Project Torah,” basics such as wallpaper, paint, closets and Seforim were still lacking.
However, the community was undeterred, showing up in droves to study with the team of bochurim, the group having been formed by Rabbi Moshe Bryski for this express purpose. Over five hundred hours of unadulterated Torah study were clocked by the hundreds of eager participants, most returning for additional sessions.
A full range of subjects were covered, from Torah Ohr of the Alter Rebbe, to learning about the prohibition of consuming blood. From Baba Kamma, to Shulchan Aruch, to Koheleth, to Sichos of the Rebbe, the list goes on. Hardly an area of Jewish law, philosophy and history, was left untouched. Everyone had the opportunity to study the subject that interested them, discuss their questions and debate their views.
Some brought their children along with them to study. “Seeing my child learn with a bochur, while learning myself with a different one, was the most amazing feeling ever,” Ian Barnett, a long-time member of a nearby neighborhood enthused. “I only hope you will be back next year to continue,” he said.
The summertime Yeshiva wasn’t only about study, though. The bochurim did a plethora of activities, putting on tefillin with close to 100 people. Amongst them were 15 who had never had the opportunity to fulfill the Mitzvah before in their lives.
House visits also took place on a large scale, putting on tefillin with them, distributing Shabbat candles and inviting all the locals to the upcoming grand opening of their own Chabad house.
“Project Torah” culminated with a banquet, which took place in the Chabad house. Rabbi Mendel Lipsker, Shliach in the nearby Sherman Oaks, addressed the crowd. Eloquently explaining the beauty and necessity of Torah study, he inspired the crowd to resolve to continue the momentum of Torah study they had built up through the summer.
Don Bing, a dedicated attendee of Project Torah also took to the pulpit, thanking the bochurim from the depths of his heart. The evening ended with a Chassidic Farbrengen with Rabbi Lipsker, which went on late into the night.
“One thing is certain, the barren desert landscape of North Ranch has now been transformed into a spiritual oasis,” Rabbi Shlomo Bistritzky said.