As Bais Toras Menachem enters its 14th year, alumni speak out about what they gained from the yeshiva, and how the warmth, individual attention and flexibility empowered them to grow.
By Y. Yehuda (JJ) Polter
I know that many of my friends are ‘making it’ through ‘the system’, BH, but I have acquaintances-bochurim who have been in Yeshiva many years, yet still somehow feel alone. I know some bochurim who, at a young age (16, 17, 18) are at a loss for viable options which fit their needs. They are planning to work, go to college or join the army, rather than go to a Yeshiva where they at times feel they don’t belong or cannot succeed. Worse, some have been rejected R’L by the school of their choice.
These fine young men from frum stable homes were ‘overlooked’ because they could not sit and learn all day, or ‘make the cut’. Some may simply need a little extra warmth and individual attention; some may want to learn thoroughly, but in a less pressured environment, with frequent breaks; and still some can really use the space to develop their talents, to mature, and prepare for ‘real life’.
One Program shines among many others, and has literally answered this call for help when they opened their doors fourteen years ago. They accept students who for above reasons or other, need just such a place, yet without compromising on their standards of chassidishkeit, yiras shamayim and a healthy atmosphere.
Enter “Bais Toras Menachem” the “best kept secret” around!
At BTM, they stress that it is a Mitzva to enjoy Hashem’s world and be b’smicha, be it through enjoying the outdoors, practicing culinary skills in the kitchen, having music lessons, bbq’s, farbrengenes, Shabbatons, or helping shluchim… It all opens up the mind, creating a better ‘keili’ for learning and growing. Nestled in a beautiful sprawling Hancock Park home, with ample breaks and interesting life-relevant courses, plus the concrete goals of smicha and a degree, it is a recipe for success!
The main smicha maggid shiur, Rabbi Levi Chazan has been with the program from the very start. Aside from being a noted talmid chochom, he has a most passionate engaging method of teaching, breaking down complex topics into practical easy to conceive bite size pieces.
The Katz’s have received many Brochos from the Rebbe to keep this endeavor going, on a totally voluntary basis, to make this unique Yeshiva experience possible for more bochurim.
In a nutshell, my experience at BTM was nothing short of incredible. From the fascinating and informative shiurim, to the Shabbatons, trips, faculty, friends, and everything in between, it has been the greatest year of my Yeshiva life yet, and its memories will be fondly etched in my memory forever!
My friend, Chonya Morozow, who came all the way from Australia to attend BTM, has this to say about his experience:
“I look back upon my year at BTM and realize how personalized it was. I felt empowered to grow and shine in a unique way. I personally had a hard time focusing for long periods of time in a ‘regular Yeshiva’. Within manageable blocks of time – 45 minutes to an hour – we learnt Chassidus, Gemoro, Halocho and Yorah Deah. There was time to unwind, socialize and release some energy through sports, hikes, trips and martial arts.
“I also had culinary talents which I worked towards and wanted to have time to pursue, both by practicing in the dorm or trying my hand at jobs in various restaurants. BTM worked with me and gave me the flexibility. Now I find myself feeling self-driven and more confident to make independent choices, because things were not decided FOR me, or dictated TO me…
“The Hanhala was extremely supportive. They kept tabs on everyone making sure each and every student was alright, and keeping busy with productive things. The social skills gained by interacting with the Anash community, friendship circle, and Shluchim all over California, serve me well in all my interpersonal relationships now.”
One more chaver of mine, Shaya Kohn, put it this way:
“In the past, I learned because I felt that it was a necessity, not because I cherished learning. In BTM, however, learning was an experience, something I actually began to enjoy. When you walk out of BTM, you will not only have earned Smicha and be well versed in pertinent halochos about how to lead a day-to-day life as a frum Jew, you will also have gained ‘real-life’ skills. I recommend it for any student who wants to be a better healthier happier person, a better healthier happier Chosid, and a better healthier happier husband and father. If you are struggling to find your fit, please know that there IS a place for you!
The Fall semester begins on Vov Cheshvan, October 12, 2021.
To inquire further regarding BTM or to register for the 2021-22 academic year, please email [email protected]. You may also contact Mrs. Rivky Katz at 323-495-3010 or Rabbi Katz at 310-663-3403. An application can also be downloaded from Smicha.net.