The emotions and simcha were palpable on Sunday, as a large representation of the Lakewood community and prominent rabbonim from New York and Lakewood joined the roshei yeshiva, rabbeim and talmidim of Yeshiva Mekor HaTorah for the groundbreaking ceremony at its breathtaking new campus on Bellinger Street, in the Pine Street area.
Amidst the frost and snowflakes of this year’s first winter storm, the tent where the groundbreaking ceremony was held was a beacon of warmth.
R’ Yechiel Schron, the yeshiva’s president, who is actively involved in every aspect of the yeshiva, opened the ceremony, noting the miraculous trajectory of Yeshiva Mekor HaTorah’s growth. Just eight years ago, the yeshiva opened with a small ninth grade class and was located in an old log cabin home. Now, a groundbreaking ceremony was being held for a state-of-the-art three-acre campus featuring a two-story, 39,000-square-foot building with a large bais medrash, classrooms, a dormitory, resource rooms, two kitchens, a dining room, and more. In addition, there will be a beautiful gym, a music room, a fitness room, a swimming pool, sports fields, and more, surrounded by an eighty-car parking lot.
“Yeshiva Mekor HaTorah isn’t one yeshiva with fifty-two talmidim. It is fifty-two yeshivos,” R’ Yechiel exclaimed. “Every bochur feels at home, as if the yeshiva was created just for him.”
Indeed, within just the past few years, Yeshiva Mekor HaTorah has grown to stand out like a gem in the Lakewood chinuch scene, attracting talmidim from throughout the metropolitan region and across the United States. Under the leadership of Rabbi Dovid Eisenberger and Rabbi Mendel Silberberg, the roshei yeshiva, the yeshiva offers the ideal combination for young bochurim to develop into bnei Torah at their individual pace.
Yeshiva Mekor HaTorah is an upstanding Lakewood mosad hachinuch with the strong support of the Lakewood roshei yeshiva and local rabbonim and mechanchim. The yeshiva offers the talmidim an extraordinary individualized rebbi-talmid relationship, small class sizes, one-on-one learning with a yungerman during night seder, the ability to engage in a variety of constructive outlets and exciting events, a quality general studies program, and a strong focus on building social and life skills.
The result has been that all of its talmidim, in a distinctly happy and healthy way, grow in ruchniyus and hasmadah at a level that they previously could not imagine.
Reb Yechiel’s father, Mr. Ruby Schron, an avid admirer of the yeshiva, addressed the event, articulating why he holds Yeshiva Mekor HaTorah so dear. He recounted the words of his rebbi, Rav Shmuel Brudny zt”l of Mirrer Yeshiva of Brooklyn, that his main goal as a maggid shiur was not to transmit the material, but to give talmidim the skills to properly analyze Torah themselves and enjoy its sweetness.
Mr. Schron expanded upon how Yeshiva Mekor HaTorah’s wholesome chinuch is in a similar vein. “Yeshiva Mekor Hatorah brings out the best in you and gives you confidence,” he told the talmidim. “One success on top of another has brought us to this point.”
“When A Bochur Is Happy, His Rebbi Is Happy”
Rabbi Shmuel Neuman, Yeshiva Mekor HaTorah’s ninth grade rebbi, approached the lectern and shared some anecdotes of what makes the yeshiva so special. Rabbi Neuman described the incredible devotion that the roshei yeshiva and every rebbi show for each talmid and the loving bond they form with each talmid. He recalled how one of the roshei yeshiva recently began dancing along with several talmidim because another talmid had found his long lost wallet.
This love and devotion expressed brings real results for talmidim’s growth. Rabbi Neuman spoke of how talmidim eagerly crowd around their rabbeim to learn both during and outside seder hours, deliver their own chaburos, and consistently work to complete masechtos. “You are the real cornerstone of this new campus,” he told the talmidim. “Your mesirus nefesh will go into every brick.”
The enormously talented rebbi then recited a poem he wrote, describing the greatness of Yeshiva Mekor HaTorah and thanking the rabbeim, talmidim and donors who made the yeshiva and its new home a reality.
No words were more poignant than those of Yehuda Zev Krohn, a twelfth grader, who explained in his own words the appreciation that he and his peers have for Yeshiva Mekor HaTorah. He related a note that Rabbi Silberberg passed to him one day in ninth grade when he had his head down. It read: “Don’t let the yeitzer hara get you down. Don’t worry. I will go over the shiur with you during recess.” This level of encouragement and support, day after day, builds talmidim.
“You’ve given me the support to realize who I am and what I can become,” Yehuda Zev summed up with confidence, harnessing the public speaking skills that he and his peers are taught in the yeshiva. “There is no way that we aren’t influenced by our rabbeim, and want to emulate them.”
Rabbi Eisenberger related the words of Chazal, who teach us that every bais medrash and yeshiva in chutz la’aretz is built on the site of where a stone from the Bais Hamikdosh fell. Pointing to the large construction site behind him, with tractors milling about, Rabbi Eisenberger exclaimed, “Two thousand years ago, a stone of the Bais Hamikdosh landed here, at this very spot!”
The keynote speaker at the event was veteran chinuch visionary Rabbi Chaim Nosson (Nate) Segal, Director of Community Development and Outreach for Torah Umesorah. Rabbi Segal, who could hardly contain his emotions, summed up his feelings by commenting that Yehuda Zev Krohn’s personal testimony a few minutes earlier “changed my life.” Rabbi Segal noted that tinokos shel bais rabbon are the only ones absolved from physically participating in building the Bais Hamikdosh. He explained that this is because talmidim are similar to the building material of the Bais Hamikdosh: They arrive with their spiritual potential untapped and develop into holy components of the holy edifice of Klal Yisroel.
“This building is a building of ‘building’ neshamos of kedushah,” Rabbi Segal summarized. “The rabbeim are not only builders of neshamos. They protect each bochur… They are the rock that talmidim hold onto for life.”
A brief address by Lakewood Mayor Menashe Miller, a close friend of the yeshiva, followed. Reb Menashe presented an official proclamation of support, reiterating how much he values Yeshiva Mekor HaTorah and is eager to assist the mosad in any way.
The final address was given by the rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Silberberg, who quoted the famous words of the Chofetz Chaim zt”l, who told his granddaughter, who was impressed by the technological advances of the world, that “we build people.” “This building is just a moshol for the building that goes on in the yeshiva, brick by brick,” Rabbi Silberberg exclaimed.
Rabbi Silberberg then got choked up with emotion – unable to continue speaking for a long moment – while thanking Hashem for the opportunity to build such a special makom Torah.
After reciting two kapitlach of Tehillim, the dignitaries and the crowd made their way out of the tent to break ground for the new building with the shovels that were prepared. This large sophisticated campus is scheduled to be completed by the upcoming Elul zeman, be’ezras Hashem.
The Torah world rejoices.