Even as the joy of Zman Simchaseinu winds down, it’s no secret that a bit of relief sets in—relief from the meal planning, shopping, and cooking needed to prepare for nearly 20 Yom Tov and Shabbos meals over a four-week holiday season.
That’s not the case at Hebrew Theological College, where the end of Yom Tov means preparing for a different season—anniversary season.
On Tuesday, December 3, HTC will mark its 97th anniversary with its annual banquet taking place at the Westin O’Hare. This year’s event honors Dr. Avi and Deena Stein with the Distinguished Leadership Award and Rabbi Sender and Tova Kutner with the Lev V’Nefesh Award. The dinner will also feature an exciting performance by musical sensation Shulem Lemmer.
The milestone comes at a significant time in HTC’s trajectory as it approaches its Centennial in the 2021-22 academic year. Only a few years since becoming part of the Touro College and University System in 2015, HTC is driving forward to improve every aspect of its Yeshiva, men’s and women’s colleges, high school, and camping division.
On the college front, for example, HTC has made several improvements that impact both its men’s college/beis midrash and Blitstein Institute for Women. These include the introduction of a new counseling and wellness initiative, led by expert clinician Dr. Richard Aranoff, longtime chair of HTC’s psychology department; the appointment of new business department chair Paul Pinkus, a former public accountant and former national director of RSM’s In-Store Marketing and Store Design Industry Group; and new majors, including computer and information sciences, e-commerce, business, graphic arts and design, and marketing.
“HTC has redoubled its commitment to offering meaningful coursework and the best possible educational programs,” says Chief Academic Officer Dr. Zev Eleff. “Both HTC and Blitstein students have access to new majors within business and other departments. They are graduating prepared to engage the professional world, while many are entering top-tier graduate schools. HTC and its students are elevating the ceiling and increasing capacity.”
For both Dr. Eleff and Blitstein Dean Dr. Chani Tessler, this highlights what separates HTC’s college divisions from the online-only offerings that have become more popular in recent years.
“We understand that people want to get their degrees yesterday,” says Tessler. “And we offer a pathway to earn that degree in an expedited fashion. But we also provide the academic rigor that builds the foundation needed to carry them through at the graduate and professional level. And our students learn while receiving the support and environment that all college students should enjoy—especially those looking for a Torah environment.”
Additionally, both the men’s campus and women’s campus continue to undergo significant facility upgrades, including renovated classrooms at Blitstein and tightened security access control at the main Skokie campus.
And all of this comes after the addition last year of HTC’s new FLEX program, which allows students to enroll in the college and join night seder in the evening, and the addition last year of Rabbi Moshe Revah, who has given the Beis Midrash learning a shot in the arm. Together with the multi-generational Bellows Kollel learning taking place, the Beis Midrash has an exciting kol Torah every afternoon.
Over at Fasman Yeshiva High School, now in its second year under the direction of Principal Rabbi Dovid Kupchik, the high school continues to expand its academic and extracurricular offerings. Perhaps most importantly, it has expanded its learning support services under the direction of Learning Center Director Shana Schuman and Learning Center Teacher Rabbi Jeremy Hartstein.
“These services have really expanded our ability to meet the various learning needs of many students,” says Rabbi Kupchik. “This opened the doors of the Yeshiva to families who previously would not have considered sending their boys here, forcing some to choose between schools that don’t meet their hashkafa or sending their 14-year-old boys out-of-town. We’re proud to say you can have both your learning services and hashkafa needs met right here at home –at the Yeshiva.”
The boys’ high school also added a third morning shiur for freshmen for the current school year. And on the extracurricular side, seniors are gearing up for the second Names Not Numbers program, and the hallways were abuzz in September with the announcement of the first-ever FYHS baseball team, which will hit the diamond in the spring.
“Every student has a place to shine,” says Rabbi Kupchik, whether it’s in the beis medrash, general studies, or in extracurricular opportunities. “Our mandate is to provide both the opportunity and the nurturing Torah environment to allow students to find their opportunity to shine, and position them for continued growth and future success.”
To that end, honorees Dr. Avi and Deena Stein are appropriate honorees for this year’s gala, as they have been a driving force behind a number of positive changes taking place in Fasman Yeshiva. Working behind the scenes, the Steins helped initiate efforts to strengthen the high school, donated video equipment for the student lounge, participated in various committees and the summer event “Light up the Night” committee, and helped initiate and sponsor FYHS’ first-ever participation in Yeshiva University’s Red Sarachek basketball tournament in March 2019, among their other contributions.
Working quietly behind the scenes is also an apt way to describe the 38-year career of HTC Vice President for Administration Rabbi Sender Kutner, who is being honored together with his wife, Tova, as he approaches his retirement at the end of this calendar year.
“For hundreds—thousands—of Fasman Yeshiva and HTC graduates, Rabbi Kutner is HTC,” says CEO Rabbi Shmuel Schuman. “They saw his constant presence in the business office, in the beis midrash, helping with the annual banquet and Melava Malka, and of course they all remember his wonderful chazzanus leading davening on the Yomim Noraim. We’re grateful for his devoted service and constant dedication. It’s hard to imagine the Yeshiva without him.”
The entire HTC family—students, parents, faculty, alumni, and supporters—is invited to contribute to the adbook and say their farewells to Rabbi Kutner at the December 3 dinner. To register or for more information, visit www.htc.edu/dinner, or contact Tziyona Cohen at email@example.com, or (847) 982-2500, x1132.