Another Cheder Closes: Mosad of Over 100 Talmidim in Toronto Forced to Shut Down Mid-Year


rabbi-tzvi-kamenetzkyFirst report: The Toronto Talmud Torah (TTT) was a school that was unique in so many ways. It was a school where every child felt at home. It was a school where every child felt warmth and love from their rabbeim, teachers and the entire staff. The staff not only knew every one of the 100+ talmidim in the school, but catered to the individual needs of every one of these children.

Sunday night, the school reached a point where, despite tireless efforts of the menahel, rabbonim and roshei kollel, and parents, it had no choice but to close.

“We mortgaged our home to lend the school $500,000 and get it off the ground,” said one parent to, “all for the sake of providing the safest most nurturing surroundings for their spiritual growth.”

Rabbi Zvi Kamenetzky was the menahel at the TTT, having moved to Toronto just over two years ago. At the time, they were living in Chicago where Rabbi Kamenetzky and his wife were involved in chinuch for over 22 years. He was then offered the position of menahel at the Toronto Talmud Torah.

“When I visited the school and walked through the building,” said Rabbi Kamenetzky, “I was enamored by the simchas haTorah and simchas hachaim in each class and every hallway. It was quite evident that all of these children were in an environment that would nurture them to become choshuveh Bnei Torah with a solid background in both Limudei Kodesh and Limudei Chol. The rabbeim showed warmth and professionalism as they interacted with their talmidim in class and during free time. The derech halimud produced a kol Torah everywhere, with the children humming and singing their pesukim and Mishnayos even during their free time.”

Rabbi Kamenetzky continued: “This was a school I wanted to a part of. I was told that this was no different than many mosdos where there were financial difficulties, but with increased enrollment and exposure, there was no doubt that this would be a mosad hachinuch deserving at least as much, if not more, support than the many out-of-the-city institutions supported by Toronto’s vast funding resources.”

“After just one year,” says Rabbi Kamenetzky, “the enrollment went up over 50%, from 74 students to 115. The school was more visible than ever and many were attracted to the love of learning they saw in each student.”

Over 100 students, their parents, rabbeim and staff have gone scrambling to find a new yeshiva ketana and new jobs after the TTT informed its parents that it could no longer continue to function.

Rav Shlomo Miller, rosh kollel of Kollel Avreichim Toronto, delivered words of chizuk at a meeting of parents and staff Sunday evening just after the closure was announced by the chairman of the board.

Most of the 100+ students have been absorbed by other schools, but close to 30 rabbeim and staff members are left without jobs three months into the school year. is trying to help an online effort to join Yidden together to help pay the melamdim and staff of this special school the over $500,000 in back pay that is owed to them since April 2010 until the school closed. 

 Those who wish to take part in this mitzvah can do so by clicking here.

{Yossi Newscenter}


  1. Since its inception, the TTT added one grade each year to its elementary school program. For this year, the Toronto Talmud Torah crowned its elementary school program with the addition of Grade 8. The Grade 8 rebbi was the well-known mechanech, Rav Shimon Shain, who brought many years of chinuch experience, along with a passionate dedication to the mesorah he received from his illustrious family, roshei yeshiva and rabbeim.
    What a shame.

  2. Okay, LET ME SAY IT: IT’S A DISGRACE! It’s disgrace that money is given to a million different things in and out of Toronto, but people couldn’t come up with money to support a school. it is a disgrace.

  3. R’ Zvi and his wife Miriam are people that themselves personify that Simchas Hachaim in their lives and in the chinuch they gave to children during their 22 years in Chicago. Chaval that the finances didn’t work out.

    115 kids for an eight year school, is it? or maybe 9 years? That’s makes for small classes. Great for chinuch, individualized attention and all. But very expensive. When a school starts, it must have a serious plan to have enough money to get through the first few years, until the student base grows to the point that it has a chance to be economically viable.

    “I was told that this was no different than many mosdos where there were financial difficulties, but with increased enrollment and exposure, there was no doubt that this would be a mosad hachinuch deserving at least as much, if not more, support than the many out-of-the-city institutions supported by Toronto’s vast funding resources.”

    There has got to be more than just hope that eventually people will see. Sorry to say, especially in today’s rough economic times, it takes more than a vision for good chinuch to open a school. There has to be a serious business model, with detailed realistic projections as well.

  4. Rav Moshe Mordechai Lowy, rov of Agudas Yisroel of Toronto, was the rosh of the Vaad Hachinuch, and Rav Shlomo Miller, rosh kollel of Kollel Avreichim in Toronto, guided the mosad.

  5. To Steve the Shmooze:
    This isn’t a joke or a laughing matter. It is very serious, with students out of school and rabeim out jobs and people owed money. not a joke whatsoever

  6. In Toronto the last few weeks as well as the upcoming weeks, there is a parlor meeting almost every night. It seems that money is leaving the city in large amounts. Millions and millions of dollars a year leave Toronto, as our mosdos here suffer. I do not understand it. Why isn’t the money going to support the local mosdos?
    There are over 75 mushluchem here this week. The same has been for the last few weeks. Our city needs the support of Toronto as well.

  7. I blame the community, period.
    It’s not an in-town community with 75 mosdos. It is Toronto. The community should be able to come up with the gelt to support the few mosdos it has.

  8. Talmidim of the TTT were fluent in Chumash and Nevi’im Rishonim, as well as almost two sedarim of Mishnayos, two complete perakim and one full mesechta of Gemara.

  9. As a parent of the school, the school had a library of some 1,700 books and 600 books of Judaic content. WHat’s happening with all the books?

  10. R’ Tzvi is R’ Mordechai’s brother. He was one of the early members of the Lakewood Kollel in Chicago, and served as a Rebbe and Mashgiach of the High School in Skokie Yeshiva.

  11. It is time for an Agudah Convetioin roundtabel on “The Closing of Schools – What Can we Do About It.” I am sure it will be enlightening.

  12. Rav Tzvi is the younger brother of Rav Mordechai (who is the head of South Shore Yeshiva). Rav Tzvi is the son (and I think youngest child) of Rav Binyamin Kamenetsky, who in turn is a son of Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky. Rav Binyomin is a pioneer of yiddishkeit in the Five Towns and I believe he founded South Shore Yeshiva.

  13. I am a native Torontonian and I am sorry to hear of the schools inability to survive. However Toronto has at least 4 other wonderful chadorim, Eitz Chaim (my almamater) Toronto Cheder, Yesodei Hatorah and Bobov. By absorbing the students and therefore expanding their respective sizes, the Toronto kehilla as a whole will save on overhead costs such as building costs and administration. Also by having larger schools each can afford to offer more programs and diversity. An example is special education, if you have 6 kids who need extra help in Limudei Kodesh instead of 3 you will probably be able to fund a special Rebbe/teacher for that. Obviously the school closing is unfortunate but perhaps the silver lining is that it impels us towards making our education system as more for less. Because chinuch is about the talmidim learning not Rebbeim having jobs (not that that isnt a consideration)

  14. Well, on the bright side – there’s that much more money now which can be redirected out-of-town so that our local mosdos can continue to suffer and be months behind.

    Meshulachim, start your engines!

  15. It is very sad and my heart goes out for the Rebbeim, teachers, students and their families. However, if this was just a ploy to get the Toronto community/Donors/Philanthropists to help their cause I believe this is the wrong and perhaps a chutzpadik approach.
    The Toronto community is blessed with wonderful Balei Tzedaka who do so much for the mosdos and organizations here. The fact that millions of dollars were poured in to a mosad that did not seem to have a chance of survival does not make these Donors into terrible selfish people but just the opposite it shows how wonderful and giving the Toronto community really is.


  17. I feel terribly sad for the Rabbeim who are now out of jobs. As for the Yeshiva, am I the only one who remembers what a wonderful community Toronto used to be, before every Peter and Paul decided to open their own Yeshiva, Bais Yaakov and shteebel? It was once a place where there was diversity in the Mosdos HaTorah and achdus among people who wore different head coverings and davened with different havaros. The community is simply not large enough to have a different Yeshiva for every kneitsh in the father’s hat. The Toronto Kehillah will be much healthier if youngsters are shown from a young age how to get along with yidden from slightly different backgrounds who may not look exactly like them.

  18. This school had the same derech halimud and bais hatorah from lakewood which also closed down this year due to lack of funds. Rabbi kanarik took it over and is doing a great job to make it financially stable. The problem is that contrary to what some people believe,finances and chinuch need to go hand in hand. You cannot have classes of 10-15 kids and you cannot have extra rabbeim for mishnayos etc if you cannot afford it. Of course ideally it would be great to have only 10 kids in a class. The rebbe can give extra attention to each and every kid. But unfortunately, financially it doesn’t work. Imagine have close to 30 rabbeim for 115 kids? That is about a 1:3.5 ratio. It is irresponsible on the part of the hanholla/board to allow such a thing. Of course I feel bad for the people who invested their homes etc into the yeshiva but they should have seen the disaster written on the wall.

  19. Comment 23. First of all do not think that by capitalizing your letters, your message becomes any more meaningful, on the contrary it strikes of immaturity. Second, of course the rebbeim being unemployed is sad,yet do not blame the gvirim. Blame whoever decided to start a school which aside from not having its own financially sound plan hurts the other pre-existing schools.

  20. Schools are businesses like all other businesses. If there is no demand for the product being sold or the customer service is lacking, it’s time to close down. It’s never a good day when a business is forced to close or lay off workers. You don’t find appeals to help cover the failed investment or payroll of a Walgreen’s that closes down, why expect a bailout over here?

    It’s a pity that Rav Zvi left Chicago.

  21. In response to #16:
    At the Agudah Convention roundtable you are proposing, would the possibility of more young men getting jobs be raised as a way of helping the mosdos?

  22. Another heiliege moisad closes shop. Displaced talmidim, Mechanchim, teachers and Hanhala. As a saving grace, perhaps our unparalleled city of wealth will open their pockets (now that this school has closed) to pay the staff for their dedication to these kids. Shame on you gvirim… big time.

  23. Yush: I so agree with you. I am from Toronto and moved out about 12 years ago. Since I left, they’ve opened so many new schools, now Toronto is not very different from other big communities where you would never have a chosid and a mizrachi in the same place.
    I don’t think this is going to change anything but I appreciate your nostalgia.

  24. All the comments about this mosad had no chance and the money situation. is all not relevant. Just for the record, Most of the mosdos in Toronto are behind in payroll. I can go on and on, the bottom line is, that there are many many wealthy individuals and families in Toronto that do not pull their fair share. They give big money to this Rebba or chasidus, but the halcha of aniya irchu kodom is forgotten.
    btw All this achdus garbage, its EMES VSHOLOM…. first emes then sholom.

  25. I’ve been following the chinuch scene in Toronto for quite some time now. This was the ONLY Cheder in town which catered to the needs of Ba’al Teshuva families and B’nei Torah who wanted their children nurtured in a total Torah environment free of media influence, commercial professional sports obsession, and adherence to the strictest standards of Tznius. There were Sefardim, Ashkenazim, Chasidim, Misnagdim, Gayrim and many single parents. That is probably why Rabbi Kamenetsky accepted accepted the position of Menahel. I once heard him say at a Tehillim gathering for women that his Zaidy, Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, ZT”L NEVER differentiated between classes of Jews and always encouraged a unified blend of the diverse communities within Klall Yisrael. And that is what existed in the TTT. As diverse as they all were, they listened to the Da’aas Torah of the Rabanei Ha’ir, Harav Moshe Mordechai Lowy, and the the Rosh Kollel Harav Shlomo Miller who were emphatic about the need for this school to survive and thrive with the support of what is known to be one of the wealthiest communities in North America. In fact they both went out to campaign and raise money for the school. When Baalei Batim do not heed the feelings and wishes of their leaders and Rabbonim and insist that since it’s their money they will decide which school is necessary, it is quite frightening. It is a fact that those who feel the school had no right to exist does not even know where the school was located let alone never EVER wished to walk into the school. Others said that these children should learn to get along with the mainstream children. It’s too bad that these affluent commentators do not realize that it is THEY who created an atmosphere in the city that Baalei Teshuva families leading very modest lifestyles were labeled and taunted by other children and families as “not conventional” and of another “class” of Yidden. The only school that embraced these families and students was the local community day school. They are to be commended for it. But let us realize that it is from this school that these families originally came. However, when their boys began growing up these parents wished to have their children educated in an English speaking Yeshiva/Cheder atmosphere. Yet they were made to feel “labeled” and unwelcome in other schools. At that time the well established Day School graciously offered to create for them a “Cheder” track under the banner of the “Derech Maharal” but their Rabbonim felt that once the children would reach the upper grades a rift and cultural divide would be created between the two tracks of the day school. Sure enough they were right. In fact the Machlokes in that day school between the “Classic Track” and the Mahara”l track has created terrible friction among the administration, parents and students. Every one of the families of the TTT completely submitted themselves to the P’sak of those Poskim and Rabbonim who decide many issues of “major Importance” in the city. Had they said to close the school every parent would have submitted with no doubt. I was told that at the parent meeting where the closure was announced by the Chairman of the Board, there was NOT ONE negative comment or finger pointed in blame. Later when the Rosh Kollel, Rabbi Miller arrived to give Divrei Chizuk, NOT ONE PERSON expressed resentment or anger. The fact that Baalei Batim could comment in such a negative way is the biggest proof that the city was in need of a chinuch institution which would be loyal to Da’as Torah to the extent of Lo Sasur.. “Afilu omrim al hayemin shehoo smole.”
    It’s too bad that many of these “opinionated” benefactors have invested millions of dollars into opening the eyes of thousands of unaffiliated young college kids to come close to Torah but when these couples build their families with Mesiras Nefesh in a very serious way and want to follow the Torahdikeh lifestyle of their mentors they feel abandoned. These supporters of Beginners Yeshivos have not educated their communities and children to accept these families and children into their schools. Instead, they resent their determination and perseverance and want them to settle for a community day school where the mandate rightfully must be flexible and “open-minded” regarding media, Tznius, mixed social events, and other issues that are universally accepted as non negotiable in virtually every cheder and Yeshiva Ketana. Unfortunately despite strict guidelines in many other mosdos there are many who not adhering 100% to those standard. That was not the case with TTT. We have a number of very close friends (we have daughters) Baalei Teshuva and FFB who were parents there. They were thrilled with the Torah Ruach throughout the school and its families. They commented that they had NEVER seen ANY parent compromise on Tznius or place emphasis on trendy styles or materialistic pursuits.
    Enough said. What’s done is done. But certainly no one has the right to put the blame on the victims.

  26. Who are you people to decide where wealthy individuals should give their money? There were FIVE frum boys elementary schools- in one small area- and they are not all full. How many does one city need? Somehow the girls manage with just 3….

  27. #32- “All this achdus garbage,” ?!?! GARBAGE?? Please open a mussar sefer, say a kapitel Tehillim and apologize. Achdus has sustained Klal Yisroel through 2000 years of galus, and our continued and strengthening achdus will IY”H bring the Geulah.

  28. Do we have too many yeshivas and Jewish institutions? I know we live in a time of great prosperity, but it may be naive to assume that all of these new institutions can be sustained. Like all organizations and governments, we must live within the financial constraints of our situation. There is more Torah being learned now than ever in history, and that’s the good news. We need more prudence and foresight before luring good people away from established institutions to begin one new venture after another. Too many fundraisers and meshulachim collecting for too many institutions. It’s just not sustainable.

  29. reply to ON
    You people is Chazal, You people is the Rabonim and you people is the Torah that we all learn and practice (or should). Go learn and study the Torah to know what the halacha is before commenting in public and showing how little you know and how much contempt and disrespect you have for the Torah

  30. Reply to 33.
    I too have been following the Toronto chinuch scene for many years. The fact is that in spite of the good intentions of the meyasdim of TTT, there were serious financial difficulties from the beginning. Of course there will be great chinuch with small teacher-student ratios, but the cost is astronomical and unsustainable-especially for a new and relatively unestablished cheder. For all those who bash the “wealthy” gvirim in Toronto, I think that outsiders view Toronto as far wealthier than it really is. Most people just struggle to put food on the table and pay tuition as is the case elsewhere. Those who have money do in fact spend much of it on local institutions-but there is only so much to go around. When the offer was made by the more established school to merge (a number of years back), responsible people should have grabbed at the offer and not continued a separate school. I think that the jury is still out on that school’s Maharal Track, but I can say that it is a solid chinuch. The only ones to blame for this are those who continued to insist on running a school without a solid and tenable financial plan.
    Toronto is not what it once was-it was not long ago that local schools had a good and healthy mix of boys from different backgrounds that contributed to a vibrant atmosphere and produced fine bnai torah-balei batim and klay kodesh alike. Older Torontonian families all knew each other and respected each other. As the city grew, much has changed, but hopefully this tragedy will be the catalyst to a more sensible approach to chinuch.

  31. This is truly a SHANDE & CHARPE to happen to a Mosed in the city: I really feel for the Rebeim and the teachers who lost their Jobs:

    My heart goes out again to the families may the Ribono Shel Oilom grant you a windfall bekorov.

  32. The Toronto Talmud Torah (TTT) was originally the Thornhill Talmud Torah (also the TTT). When they originally had financial issues, the board and principals, very responsibly, realized this was too large of a problem and the decided to merge the school with Eitz Chaim as the ‘maharal track’. There was a group of parents that didn’t like this being ‘pushed’ onto them so they broke off and this is how the TTT began. So some of the original TTT students are really enrolled in the Maharal track of Eitz Chaim.
    It’s a shame that this school didn’t work out, but we’re finding more and more smaller schools in Toronto because we just ‘can’t share’ and join the boys together ….. why?

  33. That “more established school” is now where many of us are forced to go, with very heavy hearts. Anyone who compares TTT to Eitz Chaim in any way clearly never stepped in our school. TTT was the future of the Toronto Jewish community. Our boys LOVED Torah. Our Rebbes did not just talk the talk, they walked the walk. To compare us to any other school, or to suggest that we were wrong in trying to do what we did shows a lack of knowledge of our boys, our Rebbes and our teachers. Kudos to all those who tried to keep it going. They knew that our school was unparalled. As we now are forced to put our boys in these other “more established” schools, we see, more than ever, how lucky we were, and how much we have lost.

  34. Now that the school is closed there is no need to debate the issue. I cannot imagine anyone wishing to punish the staff for the “mistake” of working there. I called a Rov in Toronto who said that a major international campaign is under way to get these rebbeim and staff out of DEEP Chovos and credit card balances with astronomical interest.
    They DO have a UNIteD States IRS tax-deductible status.

    I was told that checks should be made out to

    American Friends of TTT

    c/o Rabbi Shlomo Miller
    524 Coldstream Avenue
    Toronto, Ontario M6B 2K6

    Please Spread the word and forward the information to whomever you believe would understand the MATZAV of these teiereh yungerleit who were Roay Tzon Kodoshim.
    I was told one can also donate by going to a website for sponsorship of Limud HATORAH of Tinokos shel Bais Raban at

    I hope we all still believe we need to reinforce and support the dedication of these devoted mechanchim so they may move on and continue their Meleches HaKodesh

  35. I have heard people say that we, as school, We didn’t have a right to exist.

    Disgusting. The same exact words that people who hate Israel use.

    We had every right to try something different, to fulfill the needs of our children the way that we wanted to — and we had Rabbinic approval and support.

    I have heard that we were a drain on the community. Only because we weren’t supported. We were, and could have been, so much more of an ASSET for the community — if we were given a chance.

    Hashem is the True Judge. Our boys will be fine. It’s too bad the city has no idea of what it has lost.

  36. #43

    Like I said earlier, nobody is comparing Eitz Chaim, or for that matter any other school to TTT. I am certain that TTT was a great chinuch-but the best chinuch often needs to be placed on the backburner until a stronger financial plan is in place.

    I do think that you are taking liberty in suggesting that the Rabeiim and hanhalla in other schools don’t walk the walk and that boys elsewhere don’t LOVE Torah. It is talk like that that creates divisiveness in our community and is unhealthy for growth.

  37. As a parent of the school, reading all these posts has really made me sad. I am sad for what we lost. However, I am more sad that so many of these posts seem to blame, explain or justify others actions. For those that were a part of the TTT, let’s thank Hashem for the beautiful years we had there and the connections we were able to make. For everyone, let’s all just move forward and work together now, with whatever resources we have, in whichever school, to provide the best Torah education to our boys.