We began this week, on Monday morning, with the bris of Seth Winberg and Shoshie Lockshin's son, which took place at Ramat Orah, on 110th Street (the first location of YCT, oh so many years ago!). Many of the YCT students and rebbeim were present at the bris, and were thrilled to share this moment with Seth, Shoshie, and their families and friends.
On Wednesday night, the eighth night of Chanukah, we had a Chanukah Chagiga at KCI - Davidi Jonas' shul here in Riverdale ("at the bottom of the hill"). It was a lovely gathering of YCT students, rebbeim, teachers, and staff, and their families. There was food, crafts for the kids, dreidels and chocolate coins, latkes and sufganiyot, and with music provided by YCT students Daniel Milner, Avi Rosenfeld, Ari Hart, and Josh Strosberg. The highlight of the evening, without a doubt, was the latke frying cook-off. Organized by Jennifer Geretz, and emceed by Gabe Greenberg, Rabbi Helfgot, Rabbi Katz, and I competed against each other to see who could make the best tasting 30 latkes in 30 minutes. We were each aided by students who served as our sous chefs - Josh Frankel (with me), Mordechai Harris (with Rabbi Helfgot) and Aaron Braun (with Rabbi Katz). The judges were Michelle Friedman, Ruthie Simon, and Miriam Schacter. And the winner was.... yours truly! Much fun was had by all, and you can see pictures of the event here and a video here.
We also had a number of special Chanukah shiurim. We were thrilled to re-welcome Rabbi Jon Kelsen back to our beit midrash, and he gave a shiur on Monday on Chanukah as the dialectic between innovation and tradition. Rabbi Blanchard spoke on Wednesday on Chanukah as the symbol of standing up for what is right and true - of defying the "necessity" of one's circumstances, the fact that the oil could not last, the fact that Hellenism and Greek rule over Israel were a foregone conclusion. Chanukah teaches us that to be Torah-true Jews and leaders, we must shape and bend reality around the axes of truth and values, and not shape our values and morality to conform to our circumstances. The special shiurim ended with a shiur on Thursday by Rabbi Helfgot on the themes and specifics of hilkhot Chanukah.