This past weekend, Yeshiva Tiferes Bachurim in Morristown, NJ hosted a Military Leadership Retreat and Shabbaton, the first of it’s kind.
“The unique atmosphere of Elul in Yeshiva, gives service members an opportunity to ‘charge up’ before the Holidays,” says Rabbi Yaakov Wagner, who is running the new Masters Program in Tiferes. “In addition, young veterans from the Military tend to make great Yeshiva bochurim,” concluded Rabbi Wagner.
The weekend featured classes, one-on-one study, Farbrengens, lectures and even a Shalom Zachor and Bris (for some, a first time experience).
After leading the Kiddush, Rabbi CH (LTC) Shmuel Felzenberg who now works in the Pentagon, spoke about his deployment to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.
“On the way to one such mission, surrounded by hundreds of soldiers, I got up to speak,” shared Rabbi Felzenberg. “I explained to them the concept that ‘a messenger going to do a Mitzva, acquires a certain level of divine protection’. I then distributed half dollar coins with instructions that every soldier should give them or their exchange to charity upon their safe return home. The soldiers were totally inspired! Everyone cherished receiving the coins and placed them into a special pocket in their uniform, some even placed the coin into their armor!
“Later I was approached by several soldiers who missed the presentation. Apologizing for disturbing me they earnestly said, ‘Rabbi do you have any more of those magical coins, we missed them!'”
Rabbi CH Ira Kronenberg spoke about how to apply halacha in the many intricate situations that arise in the battle field. Rabbi Kronenberg described himself as a Yeshiva bochur who ended up going from Boro Park to becoming a Chaplain at Fort Riley, Kansas and then on to deployment abroad, and the fascinating experiences of being Frum in the Military.
Rabbi CPT Moshe Lans is the current chaplain of Fort Benning, Georgia. He spoke of his historic stay in the palace of Saddam Hussein (Y”S) and of how he erected a huge Menorah there with the assistance of the US army. He depicted this as the triumph of light over darkness and charged all the students in the Yeshiva to continue their work in the Army of Hashem to combat the darkness of golus.
This Shabbaton followed an equally inspiring Shabbaton the previous week with students from NYU and other campuses.
They came to join the 70+ full time students who were beginning the year in Tiferes. On that occasion there was also a lively welcome event for the ten shluchim bochurim from Montreal and Los Angeles who are infusing the Yeshiva with excitement in the coming year.