[Photos below.] The jewel of mainly secular city of Rechovot, which sits atop the highest hill in the city, shone forth its brightest rays last Sunday as the Meor Hatalmud Yeshiva celebrated the opening of it’s new wing amidst unprecedented fanfare. The multi-million dollar complex, complete with lecture rooms, dining room and sizeable beth midrash was financed, in large part, by well-known American Torah philanthropists, Yossi & Ruchi Stern who threw their hearts and souls into each and every step of the building process.
Scores of screens inside and outside the campus were witness to the arrival of the many local and foreign dignitaries who graced the town with their presence. The yeshiva’s 400 plus boys joined hands and hearts with hundreds of others, to celebrate this momentous occasion with fervor likened only, in joy, to the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdosh itself.
The electric atmosphere grew from moment to moment, as each Sefer Torah was brought in and housed in the new Aron kodesh, aided by the musical accompaniment, which fired the feverish singing and dancing of the assembled crowd. Revellers danced into the night, buoyed by the previous days of Simchas Torah.
Tasteful, but practical décor and interior design, coupled with sturdy marble floors, mark the style of the modern day yeshiva whose corridors are built to be well used by the increasing number of young men to soon fill it.
There was a great meeting of spiritual minds as leading Torah personalities, including HaRav A. Leib Steineman, HaRav Nissim Karelitz and HaRav Nossen Zvi Finkel were ushered to the podium amidst great honour.
Guest speaker, Mr. Kurt Rothschild, from Toronto Canada praised Rabbi Kook for his boundless love of Klal Yisrael. Likewise, Mr. Yehuda Horen, Manager of the Rechovot Mall was astounded to note how HaRav Kook’s boundless enthusiasm for Shabbos observance also spilled over into creating a virtual revolution in Jewish education in the city.
At it’s helm, Chief Rabbi of Rechovot & president of the Yeshiva, HaRav Simcha HaCohen Kook, during the dinner to which well over a thousand supporters attended, expressed his appreciation to the donors, for this outstanding show of unity and vision. Rav Kook confided in the assembled crowd that he had always been perturbed what he would answer Moshiach on his journey through Rechovot. To the left he would notice the famed Weitzman Institute for Science, to the right the Faculty of Agriculture. He would now no longer be embarrassed to escort him down the road towards the impressive new Yeshiva complex where the sound of Torah echoes forth. This is the fulfillment of Rabbi Kook’s life-long dream for education, a vision which has finally come to fruition, in the merit of the former Chief Rabbi of Rechovot, his brother the late Rabbi Shlomo Kook Zt”l who was killed in a tragic car accident together with his wife and two children. The Rav gave credit to the current Rosh Yeshiva, his brother HaRav Avraham Yitzhok for his tremendous dedication.
Rechovot traces its humble beginnings back to the 1890’s when a group of dedicated pioneers from Vlozhin, settled a small village. (In fact, the late Rosh Yeshiva of Meor Hatalmud Rabbi Chaim Zelivansky zt”l, was a fifth generation direct descendant of the Netziv of Velozhin). The first shul in the area was built with great attention to halachic detail, ensuring that even the streets at the top of the hill that formed the boundary of their land, would not be in the form of a cross. To this day, these streets are not aligned and the small shul is now replaced by Rechovot’s Great Synagogue.
The plot of land, which now houses the new Yeshiva campus, was originally purchased by the great philanthropist Reb Yaakov Broide which was lodged with the Southern district of the ‘Palestine Government’ as being “in trust for the Religious Education of the village”. Torah education in Rechovot has therefore come full circle at last.
Due to the vast numbers involved, a further gathering was held on Motzei Shabbos with over a thousand alumnae for whom the joyous feeling of homecoming was palpable. In a unique show of achdus and love of Torah, these former talmidim have committed themselves to a ten-year ongoing monthly repayment of the building loan, becoming full financial partners in this great project. At this separate gathering, HaRav Shmuel Auerbach convened the evening, followed by the Ponevitcher Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Dov Povarsky. Both HaRav Eliashiv and HaRav Michel Yehudah Lefkovitz took great pains to compose messages which were read out at the evening.
May the light of the Talmud, “Meor Hatalmud”, continue to shine forth for years to come, showing the way in these dark times to a better and more enlightened era.
For photos of the event, see below: