This week at the yeshiva we started our Winter Learning Program, a program partnering with Yeshivat Maharat for an exciting two weeks of learning for college students on winter break. I have asked Rav Ari Hart, Director of Recruitment and Admissions, to share his thoughts on the week:
We had an excellent turnout for this year's Winter Learning Program. Together with Yeshivat Maharat we had 15 students from Harvard, Brandeis, NYU, YU and more. This week the students learned in shiurim taught by Rabbi Dov Linzer, Rabbi Ysoscher Katz, Rabbi Jeffrey Fox, Rabbi Nati Helfgot, Rabbi Avi Weiss and more. The morning shiurim explored the topic of boundaries of the Jewish people. We investigated this topic via sugiot in Yevamot that discuss the process of geirut. Afternoon shiurim were divided into two tracks: one was devoted to deepening our individual and communal understanding of tefillah through learning and spiritual work, the other through in depth Tanach study.
In addition to the great learning, we had some fun too. Tuesday, the YCT, Maharat and Winter Learning students enjoyed bumper cars and laser tag. Last night, we ended our week with a kumsitz and had the special zchut of experiencing a truly uplifting moment. Just as the students were about to leave for the night, Rav Avi entered in to the yeshiva arm and arm with a chossid. Rav Avi had made a shiva call in Williamsburg to the family of Menachem Stark, a Satmar chossid who was brutally murdered, leaving behind 7 children. As he was leaving the shiva house, the gabbai of the Spinka Rebbe asked him if he needed a ride. Rav Avi asked to be taken to the train, but the gabbai wouldn't even consider just driving Rav Avi to the train. Instead, he drove Rav Avi all the way back to Riverdale (and would then have to drive back to Brooklyn for a dinner he was chairing to support the poor). The two of them joined the Winter Learning students in song and dance. The gabbai of the Spinka Rebbe gave the students an inspirational bracha and then was on his way. It was amazing to experience this unifying moment, and it was a great way to cap off an invigorating week. The program continues with a Shabbaton in Riverdale, and next week the men will continue learning at YCT and the women at Yeshivat Maharat.