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Today's YTC Bachur-A Day In The Life
2011-09-07 08:49:44
We sat down with Yitzy Melamed to give you an inside peek into the life of today’s YTC beis medrash bachur. Yitzy, a Denver native, has attended yeshiva here since 9th grade, and is currently in first year beis medrash.

For Yitzi, the day begins early. “I get up at six for my pre-Shacharis chavrusa with Akiva Wilen,” he says. “We’re learning R’ Shimshon Pincus, zt”l’s, Sha’ar Emunah, which is solid and inspiring. A great way to start the day.”

Shacharis begins at seven thirty, followed by halachah seder. First seder focuses on an in-depth analysis of the gemara, followed by shiur with R’ Dovid Nussbaum. “R’ Dovid’s unique style really fires us up. He encourages passionate discussions, and gets us to express and defend our svaros to the best of our abilities.”

Lunch is at 1:30 (favorite lunch? “Tacos and pizza!”), followed by afternoon break. “During the break, I’ll either go biking or running, which really helps me keep fit and stay alert throughout the day.” Yitzy also uses his off-time to practice guitar and, if need be, to catch up on some sleep.

After Minchah, the bachurim have second seder. “This is learned b’iyun kal, which is more intense than bekiyus, but not as in-depth as morning seder. We’ll sometimes also have a chaburah to ensure that we have a firm grasp of the subject matter.” R’ Elisha Zeiger, the shaul u’meishiv for second seder, encourages the bachurim to ask questions and argue over the answer. “It’s amazing how passionate we can get while arguing over the true meaning of the gemara, but we know not to take it personally. We leave the beis medrash on the same good terms with which we entered.”

Dinner is followed by night seder, then maariv, then after-maariv seder. The learning is intense, but the benefits are apparent even in the here-and-now, thanks to YTC’s excellent location. “The yeshiva implements a number of great incentives to keep us learning,” says Yitzi. “For the bachurim who consistently attend after-maariv seder, there’s a great skiing and white-water rafting trip. And for those with a high average on the weekly chumash tests, the yeshiva takes us camping!”

Although the beis medrash bachurim no longer participate in the yeshiva’s secular studies program, Yitzi has many fond memories to share. “Dr. Peckman has structure the yeshiva’s secular department in a way that is both engaging and professional. He has a knack for finding teachers who are both experienced and knowledgeable while being engaging and down-to-earth with the students.”

Now that he’s in beis medrash, Yitzi is able to appreciate the unique inter-grade achdus the yeshiva is so well known for. “The yeshiva encourages younger and older bachurim to develop close relationships. It’s a great dynamic which really encourages us to be on our best behavior-the younger bachurim look up to the older ones, and the older ones know they’re being looked up to! In fact, the hanhalla pairs us with younger bachurim for after-maariv seder, which is a great experience for both parties. By the end of the year, we all know each other well.”

“Learning in this yeshiva has had a profound impact on me,” says Yitzi. “The fundamental skills and hashkafos I have learned here have guided me to become who I am now and, iy”H, who I will be in the future.”

Back To School With YTC
2011-09-07 08:48:25
Few students would admit to considering the beginning of a new school year with eager anticipation, but as in so many things, Toras Chaim students are different. The year started off on a high note as the yeshiva opened its doors with full enrollment to its forty-fifth incoming class amidst spirited reunions and an enthusiastic return to learning.

“The summer was fun, and camp was great,” says Beis Medrash bachur Aharon Wilen. “But by the end of bein hazmanim I was really looking forward to seeing my friends and rebbeim again. I can’t wait to get back into our regular routine and take advantage of the uplifting yeshiva atmosphere.”

Yeshiva menahel, Rabbi Tzvi Mordechai Feldheim, is looking forward to another year of high-energy learning. “I am very excited about the upcoming school year. We have an extremely motivated group of students that I am confident will create an intensive learning environment.”

“Although this year’s masechta, Bava Basra, is the largest masechta in Shas, some bachurim have already expressed their eagerness to try to complete its entirety, inspired by the many bachurim who completed masechtas Gitten last year.”

This year’s students have much to look forward to in kodesh studies as well as in chol, as September marks the beginning of Dr. Dan Peckman’s Catapult Learning initiative. By implementing his focus on small group mathematical instruction, Dr. Peckman hopes to fortify Toras Chaim student’s math skills via Catapult’s proprietary curricula.

“This is something we’ve been developing for over a year and I’m excited that we’re finally ready to implement the program,” says Peckman. “I’ve been working hand in hand with Catapult Learning’s regional director Heather Hutchinson to customize a learning program that will be ideally beneficial to our students.”

After a summer filled with ruach and fun, the yeshiva bids farewell to YTC-based Camp Meromim, and opens its doors for the upcoming school year.

Yeshiva Hosts Shabbaton In Honor of 40th Graduation
2011-07-07 11:06:26
“It was like going to a large convention,” said Yonason Spar. “Everything was taken care of, down to the last detail. The entire mishpacha gave over such a warm, satisfying feeling. It was really a beautiful Shabbos.”

A big family simcha? If you can call a yeshiva graduation shabbaton a family simcha, then the answer is yes! Yeshiva Toras Chaim pulled out all stops to host their annual graduation shabbaton, this year in honor of the yeshiva’s fortieth graduating class.

“I’ve been to some fancy bar mitzvahs that weren’t as nice, either in ruchniyus or in gashmiyus,” said Mr. Spar, father of twelfth grader Nachi Spar.

Parents, grandparents, family and friends gathered in Denver over the weekend of Shabbos Parashas Korach to attend the shabbaton. Guests arrived as early as Wednesday to participate in sightseeing trips around the city and to meet with the yeshiva’s rebbeim and hanhallah.

“We had never been to Denver over Shabbos before, and I only wish we would have come earlier!” said Mr. Spar, who lives in Minneapolis, MN. “The wives of the rebbeim greeted my wife like an old friend. It was really beautiful to see how the entire community is part of the yeshiva’s mishpacha.”

The leil Shabbos seudah was held in the yeshiva social hall, accompanied by leibedige singing and divrei Torah. Among the parents who spoke was Rabbi Shlomo Melamed, who graduated from YTC nearly forty years ago and whose youngest son, Yitzi, is a member of the fortieth graduating class. Rabbi Melamed expressed how special it was for him to have all his sons attend Yeshiva Toras Chaim, and how he and his sons gained immeasurably, both from the learning and mussar provided by the yeshiva and from the personal examples set by the rebbeim and hanhallah.

Rabbi Monash Sax, tenth grade rebbe at Yeshivas Ner Yisroel in Baltimore, flew in to be present at the graduation of a former talmid. Rabbi Saks spoke about the care and concern the yeshiva has for every bochur, and how the hanhallah looks at each bachur’s entire story, not just at how he’s doing in seder. Because of this individualized attention, Rabbi Saks said, his former talmid has flourished and thrived.

Class valedictorian was Mordechai Levine, son of Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Levine of Detroit. Salutatorian was Tzvi Crystal, son of Rabbi and Mrs. Laibel Crystal of Denver. The graduates were presented with sefarim in memory of R’ Moshe Kahn, zt”l, who was a rebbe in the yeshiva for over thirty years.

“It was a tremendous nachas for me to watch how [the twelfth grade] shteiged this year,” said twelfth grade Rabbi Naftali Seidenfeld. “It was wonderful to have the opportunity to speak to the parents over Shabbos and share the nachas of watching them grow in Torah and in yiras shamayim.” Rabbi Seidenfeld, who joined the teaching staff at YTC at the beginning of this school year, quickly gained the confidence and respect of the yeshiva’s bachurim-no small feat for a new twelfth-grade rebbe. “They’ve really grown to be true bnei Torah,” he said.
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Eleventh Grade Makes Siyum on Brochos
2011-07-07 10:56:23
Someone once approached R’ Elyashiv, shlita, with a shailah. The Rav looked at the man incredulously. “It’s in masechtas Brochos,” R’ Elyashiv responded. “How could you not know the gemarah in masechtas Brochos?”

It was with this story that Rabbi Eli Krausz inspired his eleventh grade shiur to take on the challenge of learning and completing maseches Brochos. In addition to learning Gitten along with the rest of the yeshiva, Rabbi Krausz’s shiur took on extra hours of learning after maariv, extending their usual night seder in order to accomplish their goal of completing and knowing Brachos before the end of the year. The bochurim even asked Rabbi Krausz to join them late at night to ensure that their extra seder was of the same caliber as their learning during the day. The bochurim took weekly tests in addition to writing summaries of the sugyos they covered and engaging in multiple chazaros throughout the year.

At the siyum last week, held at the home of Rabbi and Mrs. Eli Krausz, each bochur delivered a d’var Torah based on the mesechta. During the festive and lavish seudah, prepared by Mrs. Krausz, the general mood was one of joy and accomplishment. A video recording of Rav Shach, zt”l, speaking on the chashivus of Torah was shown.

”I’m very proud of the hasmada of the boys in the shiur and of their enthusiasm throughout the year,” said Rabbi Krausz. “Not only did they cover the mesechta together, but they constantly reviewed it and really made a kinyan on it. We set out not just to learn the mesechta, but to really know it. I believe the bochurim were successful.”

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Yeshiva Toras Chaim Denver holds 44th Annual Parlor meeting
2011-06-16 10:01:16

The rainstorm showering the city on the night of the yeshiva’s annual parlor meeting did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the attendees. While most of Denver resigned to yet another unseasonable day of raincoats and wind-shield wipers, Rabbi Yitzchok Wasserman took the mid-May rain as a good omen.

“Rain symbolizes abundance,” the Rosh Yeshiva said. “’Im b’chukosai telechu, if you follow My decrees, V’nasati gishmeichem b’itam, I will provide your rains in their time”. The Rosh Yeshiva explained that whether or not a person is financially successful, if he uses his money to do Hashem’s Will he will be granted the ability to do even more. “Hashem will increase his assets,” he said. “None of us can afford not to give”. Rabbi Wasserman also emphasized the close partnership between Rabbonim and businesspeople, which has served to uplift and strengthen the community since the yeshiva’s inception in 1967.

Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Kernis generously opened their home in Southeast Denver to host the 44th annual parlor meeting, which was attended by a sizeable crowd despite the inclement weather.

Rabbi Menachem Zussman, yeshiva alumnus and director of teen programming with the Jewish Experience (outreach arm of the Yeshiva), spoke passionately about the yeshiva’s effect on his own life. A respected yungerman in the yeshiva’s kollel, Rabbi Zussman revealed that his path to learning had not always been smooth. “When I was in yeshiva, there were two shiurim, the upper shiur, and the lower shiur. I was in the lower shiur, but I never felt bad about that. The yeshiva always stressed to us that anyone who makes the effort to succeed is successful. Because I put forth that effort, the yeshiva gave me the confidence to learn and succeed.” Rabbi Zussman pointed to the Roshei Yeshiva as role models for himself and for the community at large. “The highest level a person can reach is to continue growing in learning while retaining his ability to relate to others. Rabbi Kagan and Rabbi Wasserman embody this ideal.”

Mentioning his work with the Jewish Experience’s highly successful teen program, Rabbi Zussman again called attention to the Roshei Yeshiva as the inspiration behind his kiruv work.

Secular studies principal, Mr. Dan Peckman cued a video presentation which featured several alumni speaking of the yeshiva’s positive impact on their lives and in turn on their communities.

Other speakers included Mr. Yossi Fried who emphasized the parsha’s theme to encourage donations. “Im b’chukosai telechu-support Torah, and you will be blessed!”

When yeshiva’s President Mr. Zvi Gelt opened the mike to the audience, several attendees stepped forward with emotional pleas of their own. One participant spoke about their family’s long-term relationship with the yeshiva, then turned to focus on YTC’s current community projects. “We are the People of the Book, but so many Jews don’t even know what’s in the book! Yeshivas Toras Chaim is working to change that.” Mr. Mike Miller, the yeshiva’s Chairman of the Board, illustrated the individualized attention the yeshiva gives to each of its students.

Yeshiva Toras Chaim Hosts Third Annual Pirchei Western Regional Siyum Mishnayos
2011-06-16 09:24:54

Over the weekend of Shabbos Parshas Nasso, the Third Annual Pirchei Western Regional Siyum Mishnayos was hosted by Yeshiva Toras Chaim of Denver. Close to 60 boys from across Colorado, as well as a contingent from Palo Alto, California-joined by Palo Alto Rosh Kollel, Rabbi Joey Felsen-were hosted by the Yeshiva and by the West Side Jewish community for a Shabbos of learning, laughter, friendship and fun.

The event began erev Shabbos morning when the boys, aged 4th through 8th grade, davened Shacharis in the yeshiva bais medrash. Breakfast was followed by a special shiur, after which the yeshiva joined the Pirchei members in a fun-filled trip to the Red Rocks amphitheater in Golden, Colorado, and a delicious barbeque lunch at Evergreen Park.

The Friday night seudah was accompanied by lively singing and dancing along with inspiring divrei Torah given over by YTC rebbeim. The Pirchei members were joined by the entire student body of YTC, along with the Roshei Yeshiva, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan and Rabbi Yitzchock Wasserman; the yeshiva’s menahel, Rabbi Tzvi Mordechai Feldheim; and the yeshiva rebbeim. The yeshiva was also honored to host Rabbi Ephraim Levi, national director of Pirchei Agudas Yisroel of America, who flew in from Passaic, New Jersey to attend, along with Aharon Dovid Katz of Detroit, founder and former director of Pirchei of Denver. “It was an uplifting, awe-inspiring experience,” says high school bochur Yehuda Brecher of Baltimore.

Shabbos day activities included shacharis in Yeshiva, another leibedig Shabbos seudah, and a series of ongei Shabbos at the homes of West Denver community members, including Rabbi Meyer Schwab, dean of Bais Yaakov of Denver. Pirchei groups were held in the afternoon, complete with stories, games, divrei Torah and refreshments.

The Shabbaton culminated in a siyum mishnayos held on motzai shabbos at a grand melave malkah attended by close to two hundred fathers, rabbonim, rebbeim, and community members. Rabbi Ephraim Levi spoke about the chashivus of Torah as imparted by the Pirchei leaders in Denver and across America, thanking them for their involvement in this important community program. Rabbi Levi noted that the Denver siyum marks the fourth siyum mishnayos made by a Pirchei group in North America, the others being the Midwest Region Pirchei, the Montreal Pirchei, and the New York Pirchei. The siyum was followed by a Chinese auction with a variety of great prizes being offered, including a set of Shas. Awards were also distributed to participants in an extracurricular Mishnayos program run by Pirchei of Denver.

Dovi Ort, Yeshiva Toras Chaim bais medrash bochur and current director of Pirchei of Denver was largely responsible for organizing and arranging the entire event. He extended an enthusiastic thank you to all who were involved in making the Siyum Mishnayos Shabbaton such a success.

Yeshiva Toras Chaim, which hosted this event, along with Pirchei programming throughout the year, allows Ort and other Pirchei leaders to impart the chashivus of Torah to younger boys in and around the Denver community through their involvement. “Without them, Pirchei wouldn’t be around,” says Ort.

Ort was especially appreciative to Rabbi Ephraim Levi for joining the Western Regional Pirchei for their Shabbaton, as well as for his constant support and encouragement. “He’s a very energetic person,” says Ort. “A true Pirchei leader!”

Pirchei of Denver extended a special note of appreciation to the West Side Jewish Community, not only for hosting Pirchei members over Shabbos, but also for their active involvement in their childrens’ education.
“The true pride of Pirchei of Denver is to be a part of the Denver Community,” says Ort, a Flatbush native. “They are always actively involved in ensuring that their children receive the best Torah education possible. Their readiness to put boys up for Shabbos, to help with transportation and with financial support, and to host the onegs, shows how the people in the [Denver] community are ready to support us in any way. The true members of Pirchei are the parents!” Ort laughs.

Additional thanks goes to all the bochurim and rebbeim at Yeshiva Toras Chaim, and especially to high school bochurim Sasson Gross from Flatbush, Yehuda Aryeh Brecher from Baltimore, Nachi Spar from Minneapolis, and Yaakov and Mordechai Rubin from New Haven, Connecticut.

“I myself walked away a totally changed person,” says Ort, who’s been involved in Pirchei for the past three years. “That’s the amazing thing about being involved in Pirchei. You get out of it so much more than you give!”

Yeshiva Toras Chaim/Denver holds annual Alumni Dinner in NY
2011-06-16 09:16:08

With a larger turnout than the yeshiva has seen in previous years, alumni of Yeshiva Toras Chaim in Denver gathered in Kings Terrace in Brooklyn last week for the YTC Alumni Association’s annual tribute Dinner. Well over three hundred alumni, together with family, parents and friends of the yeshiva, attended the dinner, which was conducted by master of ceremonies and YTC alumnus, Rabbi Heshy Arem.

Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan, addressed the gathering with divrei Torah v’chizuk. The Rosh Yeshiva described K’lal Yisroel’s sojourn in the midbar, and how Bnei Yisroel would set up camp with the Mishkan in the center of the machaneh. In a timely message considering the dinner’s close proximity to Rosh Chodesh Sivan, Rabbi Kagan focused on the importance of maintaining Torah’s centrality in our lives.

“Now that we are in golus, we are m’kayeim this same concept by placing yeshivos and limud haTorah at the center of our lives.”

Rabbi Kagan encouraged those in attendance to maintain their connections with the rebbeim and hanhallah, and to continue their support of the yeshiva.

Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Yitzchok Wasserman expressed his pride in seeing so many YTC alumni serving as true b’nei Torah and active leaders in their respective communities.

The evening continued with a buffet dinner and a tribute presentation to the yeshiva’s honorees.

Mr. and Mrs. Mayer Mayerfeld of Brooklyn, New York, current parents at Yeshiva Toras Chaim, were awarded the Parents of the Year Award. Mr. Mayerfeld spoke of his personal hakaras hatov to the entire yeshiva and specifically to his son’s rebbeim, Rabbi Tzvi Mordechai Feldheim and Rabbi Yitzchok Polter, for taking such good care of him and for making themselves so available and receptive to Mr. and Mrs. Mayerfeld.

“You can easily see what special rebbeim this yeshiva has,” said Mr. Mayerfeld. “I feel so proud and privileged that my son is able to learn in such a makom Torah and to be in close proximity true ba’alei chessed. Rabbi Feldheim is a prime example of what it really means to be a rebbe to a talmid. It’s something unique that you don’t really find nowadays.”

Rabbi and Mrs. Chaim Tzvi Friedlander of Lakewood, New Jersey, were honored, with the Avodas Hakodesh Award. Rabbi Friedlander, who has been involved in kashrus for close to thirty years, expressed his gratitude to the yeshiva for teaching him how to infuse his life with meaning and purpose.

“I don’t know of any other yeshiva that puts so much effort into each individual bochur,” Rabbi Friedlander said. “[The yeshiva] tries to make sure everybody succeeds with his potential. They’ve done a good job on many guys over the years.”

Rabbi and Mrs. Nachman Lapa were honored with the Harbotzas Torah Award. Rabbi Lapa, beloved rebbi at R’ Pesach Raymon Yeshiva (RPRY) in Edison, New Jersey and a social worker in Lakewood had high praise for the yeshiva and for the Denver community.

“I think everyone who lives on the East Coast should spend a year in yeshiva there,” said Rabbi Lapa. “Because it’s a smaller yeshiva and a smaller community, you realize the value of each and every Jew. You’re not just a number. Every person counts. That’s something you gain by being in yeshiva there. You don’t get lost. Everyone should spend a year in Denver, Colorado!”

“The yeshiva gave me the ability, confidence and tools to teach others, and to be a productive member of Klal Yisroel,” Rabbi Lapa said. “I highly recommend the yeshiva for its ability to prepare students to succeed in life.”

Rabbi and Mrs. Zev Heisler were honored with the Alumnus of the Year Award.

“The one thing I loved about Denver over every other yeshiva [I attended] is how the Bais Medrash bochurim are looked up to as role models by the high school bochurim,” said Rabbi Heisler, a zoning consultant in Flatbush. “That was one of the more important things-to remember that I was a role model. The integrity they taught us is with me all the time.”

Mr. and Mrs. Yosef Pilchik were honored with the Young Leadership Award.

“R’ Dovid Katzenstein recommended Yeshiva Toras Chaim for me, which truly turned out to be a home away from home,” Mr. Pilchik said. “I established a beautiful, close relationship with the roshei yeshiva and the hanhalla. Aside from the daily limudim and sedarim the yeshiva had, there were the beautiful extracurricular activities that the yeshiva provided us with. The varmkeit and the way that they encouraged us to enjoy ourselves helped us grow to further serve the Ribbono shel olam.”

Nissan Ringel and Heshy Schertz served as Dinner Chairs. Journal Chairmen included Shimshi Bandman, Mordechai Kliger, and Dovid Wanunu. Moshe Fleischman and Aryeh Leib Klainberg served as Campaign Chairmen, and Heshy Arem and Gedalia Litke served as Evening Chairmen.

Yeshiva Completes Mishna Berura!
2011-04-13 13:48:57
What began as a dream five and a half years ago was finally realized in Yeshiva Toras Chaim this past week. Rabbi Shragy Freedman, the tenth grade Rebbe, embarked on a campaign to join the world wide network of halacha yomis. Halacha yomis is a program that learns one amud of mishna berura every day, completing the cycle every five and a half years. Baruch Hashem a group of bocherim join together ten minutes before night seder to hear a shiur from Rabbi Freedman in that day’s amud. A breakfast siyum was held for the entire yeshiva to celebrate the monumentous occasion. The Rosh HaYeshiva Harav Yisroel Meir Kagan spoke about the Rabbeinu Yona that mentions the importance of learning a halacha psuka. A person who learn what the halacha limaaseh is, is someone who learns for the laasos and such a person is guaranteed olam habba. Rabbi Freedman spoke about the maala of making a small commitment, but doing it consistently, can bring about a great reward in the end. A big yaasher koach and mazel tov to all the mesayimim.

After Mariv Seder
2011-04-13 13:47:05
After a long day in yeshiva, the last thing most kids think about is another seder, but if you walk into the bais medresh, you will see a full room of bocherim chapping arain one more opportunity to shteig. There are chavrusos learning a set limud, with everyone at the same pace, as well as a shiur given to those bocherim who prefer that format. If a bocher has perfect attendance, and over a 90% average on bechinos they are treated to a ski trip. This program has been going on for the last 4 years and was started by Reb Shragy Freedman, the 10th grade rebbe.