On Sunday evening, over 400 people from across the Chicago community gathered at the Crowne Plaza O’Hare to celebrate 12 years of the YU Torah Mitzion Kollel’s Torah leadership and growth in the Chicago community. The evening opened with a shiur given by the President of Yeshiva University, Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman. Rabbi Dr. Berman’s presentation focused on the relationship between the Jewish community and society at large based on several perspectives of Rishonim (early medieval commentaries) and the responsibility of the Jewish community today during a time of antisemitism to maintain an openness to those who are looking to Judaism for values in a complicated world.
The dinner focused on the role of the Kollel as a vehicle for members of the Chicago community to enhance their relationship with Hashem through Torah. Rabbi Reuven Brand, the Rosh Kollel, delivered the keynote message reflecting on stories of individuals who bring Hashem into their lives thanks to the Kollel opportunities. The event recognized the contributions of Rabbi Hillel and Faye Meyers, long-time Kollel learning participants and volunteers, with the Torat Chessed Award and Rabbi Gedalya and Tamar Shames, Kollel alumni who continue to participate in the Kollel’s education and programming, with the Harbatzat Torah Award. NILI, the Kollel’s women’s initiative was a prominent facet of the dinner, as Faye Meyers is a member of its women’s council and Tamar is the NILI program coordinator. Dinner was followed by a dessert buffet, which included a “Torah in Action” museum display, enabling participants to experience some of the Kollel’s experiential Torah programs including Tzitzit, Safrut, community building and a display on Massechet Yoma and Hilchot Bishul Akum, which the Kollel is learning this year. Multimedia presentations during the dinner expressed the Kollel’s unprecedented growth in numbers of people who are engaged in learning through the Kollel, as well as efforts to connect beyond the Orthodox community through partnerships with the JCCs of Chicago and Illinois Holocaust Museum. The evening concluded with a Kumzitz and an opportunity for guests to enjoy a warm atmosphere. With this remarkable success, the Kollel looks forward to continued growth together with the Chicago Jewish community.