On February 23, hundreds of people from across Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods will gather to celebrate the YU Torah Mitzion Kollel’s Torah leadership and growth in the Chicago community with the help of Hashem. Representing scores of shuls, schools, and organizations, these dinner attendees come together with one shared commitment: to further the growth of the Kollel and its values. This year’s dinner will highlight the contributions of outstanding Kollel lay leaders, Rabbi Hillel and Faye Meyers, who embody the Kollel’s values of aspirational Avodat Hashem and a commitment to ongoing Torah learning. The evening will also recognize Kollel alumni Rabbi Gedalya and Tamar Shames for their ongoing contributions to our community. As one of a fourteen alumni families who have settled in Chicago following their term in the Kollel, they have continued to contribute in many ways including Tamar’s role as program director of NILI, the Kollel’s women’s initiative.
A highlight of the dinner evening will be the pre-dinner shiur by Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, who will be making his first visit to Chicago as YU President. The shiur will begin at 5:30pm followed by dinner and dessert buffet from 6:30- 8:30pm.
In one respect the Kollel is a center of Torah in the traditional Beit Midrash sense- it is comprised of four pairs of Torah scholars, who spend six to seven hours each day immersed in Gemara and Halacha. This year the Kollel is studying Massechet Yoma and the second section of Yoreh Deah- learning that is supplemented by mandatory written exams and weekly shiurim from the Rosh Kollel and Rosh Chabura in addition to time for exploration of Torat Eretz Yisrael. Yet, it also serves as a center of Torah for the broader community by reaching out and engaging our community. The Kollel offers a community Beit Midrash with one on one Chavruta learning every evening in the Beit Midrash at KINS and on Sunday mornings in the Or Torah Beit Midrash. Each week a dozen shiurim are available, in addition to dynamic youth learning for kids beginning at age 8.
Within the Kollel community, women have a unique opportunity for learning and leadership. NILI: Chicago Institute of Women’s Learning offers women sophisticated and meaningful shiurim and programs under the direction of its women’s council and professional women staff. Not only does it provide a wide menu of local educational resources for young women in middle and high school through adult women, but it also attracts special out of town speakers for key events. Additionally, NILI’s Shirley Rothner a”h Taharat Hamishpacha Resource offers an anonymous, confidential hotline that enables local women to access the Halachic guidance of a local Rabbi with the comfort of speaking with a local, trained and approachable woman.
The Midwest Center for Jewish Learning is the Kollel’s newest initiative, which is focused on building bridges with Jews and communities outside the Orthodox orbit to share with them the inspirational resources of the Kollel and its educators. MCJL has partnerships with the Illinois Holocaust Museum, JCC, NCSY and L’Chaim Center to bring the vision, resources and message of the Kollel to the broader Chicago Jewish community.
The Kollel’s values of engaging our world through the prism of Torah and emphasizing the religious significance of the State of Israel differentiate its offerings and its energetic leadership constantly seek innovative ideas to grow participation. A recent conversation between Rabbi Dovid Kupchik of FYHS and Rabbi Leonard Matanky of ICJA is an example of a new community program the Kollel introduced this year.
Despite its lean administrative team and budget that is funded completely by local Chicago community members, the Kollel’s programming and impact continues to grow. Without its own brick and mortar location, the Kollel and its dynamic team of fellows are able to reach out with incredible programming to enhance local shuls and schools including Arie Crown, Hillel Torah, Ida Crown, and Fasman Yeshiva High School. When the Kollel began in 2008 as a merger with the previous Kollel Torah Mitzion, no one could have imagined its future impact. With alumni in local Rabbinic and lay leadership positions, the ability to unify a growing, diverse constituency under the banner of Torah and hundreds of people of all backgrounds engaging the word of Hashem through countless entry points the Kollel is truly growing beyond imagination.
For those interested in participating in this evening of Torah celebration, please call the Kollel office at 773.973.6557 or email info@torahchicago.