Jul 2, 2008— The Orthodox Jewish community in Chicago got a taste of things to come at a Shabbaton weekend introducing its members to Yeshiva University’s rabbinic scholars and the new YU Torah Mitzion Kollel, a project of the Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) and the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), which will begin offering in-depth learning for Jews in the Windy City this fall.
President Richard M. Joel, as well as other YU leaders and rabbis, shared YU’s unique mission of Torah Umadda, the synthesis of Jewish learning with secular knowledge, with congregations across Chicago.
President Joel spent Shabbat in the West Rogers Park area, while Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future and Rabbi Reuven Brand, rosh kollel (head) of the forthcoming YU Torah Mitzion Kollel, were scholars-in-residence in Skokie. Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky, a RIETS rosh yeshiva (professor of Talmud), was a scholar-in-residence in Lincolnwood.
Other members of YU’s administration and faculty joined alumni, parents, and friends in celebrating YU’s new partnership with the Chicago Jewish community, which has the largest number of out-of-town students on the YU campus.
The celebration also featured a Melave Malka at Congregation Or Torah featuring “Jewpardy,” a spoof on the popular program “Jeopardy,” on Motzei Shabbat. On Sunday, almost 100 people attended the first YU Kollel Yom Rishon and Midreshet Yom Rishon in Chicago. The learning sessions were an extension of the hugely popular Sunday learning programs held on YU’s Wilf Campus in New York City.
The visit also highlighted the formation of the Yeshiva University Torah Mitzion Kollel, which “will consist of a permanent cadre of Torah scholars who will reside in Chicago and enrich the entire local Jewish community with exciting learning programs for men, women and youth,” said President Joel.
“The Kollel will foster a transformational experience in Chicago and be an incubator for klei kodesh (lay leaders), by attracting young couples to move to Chicago, seeding the community with educators and rabbis to lead and inspire local synagogues and schools,” he said.
Additionally, Chicago is one of the cities where CJF-RIETS is sponsoring a special six-week program of Torah learning this summer. The Chicago Summer Kollel, co-sponsored by Congregation Or Torah and established in memory of community leaders Joseph and Gwendolyn Straus, runs from July 6 to August 17.