By Margie Pensak
If you are learning in Kollel and wondering if Rabbanus is for you, wonder no more—if you are a member of Kollel Avodas Levi, the Kollel of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel in Baltimore, Maryland, that is. The STAR-K Rabbinical Training Program now offers yungeleit in the kollel the opportunity of capturing a glimpse into the multifaceted life inside the Rabbinate. The inaugural lecture series, held between Tu B’Shevat and Shavuos, was a huge success.
“The STAR-K Rabbincal Training Program was borne from the strong interest of a group of twenty-five Kollel Avodas Levi yungeleit to have a series of Rabbonim, community leaders, and other presenters discuss what it takes to be a Rav, community leader, and mechanech,” explains Rabbi Nosson ‘Nate’ Miller, the Kollel Avodas Levi yungerman who spearheaded the program as the Kollel’s liaison.
In the past, the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) in conjunction with STAR-K, held a similar training program at the Kollel, but last year Rabbi Miller and a few colleagues thought of utilizing local resources, instead, to spare the weekly, 15-week commute of the Young Israel Rabbonim. After procuring NCYI’s bracha, STAR-K President Avrom Pollak was approached about STAR-K Kashrus Administrators, among other local Torah experts, delivering the weekly training sessions.
“The program is primarily geared for the Ner Yisroel yungeleit who are going into Rabbanus,” notes Rabbi Miller. “However, it is also for those who want a better understanding of a depth of things that are beneficial to know–for example, if your relative or someone intrigued asks you about them. We learned a lot from the speakers that we don’t necessarily find out in yeshiva.”
The spectrum of knowledge shared during this lecture series included the following topics: Mikvaos and Eruvin (HaRav Moshe Heinemann); End of Life Questions (HaRav Yaakov Hopfer); Handling Bais Din Concerns (Rav Mordechai Shuchatowitz); Hanhagos and Halchos in Shul (Rav Dovid Heber); Preparing and Delivering a Powerful Speech (Rabbi Yissocher Frand); Contemporary Issues Rabbi Moshe Hauer); Gittin, Kiddushin and Bereavement (Rabbi Zvi Holland); How to Posken if You Are Not a Posek (Rabbi Mordechai Frankel); Unique Challenges Facing Out of Town Rabbonim-Kashrus & Kiruv (Rabbi Zvi Goldberg); Creative Solutions for Leaders of Jewish Institutions (Rabbi Boruch Neuberger); Translating the Torah (Rabbi Aharon Lopiansky); Halachos Involved in Leading Life-Cycle Events (Rav Yosef Berger); Complex Medical and Halachic Questions in End of Life Decisions and Infertility Issues (Dr. Yoel Jakobovits); Important Insights to Ensure Simcha at Every Bris (Rabbi Moshe Rappaport); and, Simplifying Finances: Parsonage, Non-Profit Status, and Tax Exemptions (Rabbi Shmuel Shachter).
As one participant noted, the STAR-K Rabbinic Training Program was a real eye-opener, bringing out many issues that a Rabbi must face in today’s turbulent times, providing some “tools for life”.
Rabbi Mordechai Benyowitz, another participant, said that what stands out most about his training program experience, is the Rabbonim, themselves. “Each one gave a moving and deeply personal glimpse into their lives. They demonstrated their deep commitment to serving the tzibur…Each Rav showed his own personality and style, yet the common denominator was intense dedication and selflessness. More than any particular lesson or teaching, they taught by example how to be a true osiek b’tzorchei tzibbur and live the life of a Torah leader.”
“The STAR-K Rabbinical training program is an incredible opportunity for yungeleit to not only gain a profound perspective in so many fundamental topics vital to being an inspirational leader in the Jewish community, but it also empowers its graduates to cultivate deeper relationships with world class Rabbonim, role models, and other talented, aspiring leaders in similar stages of personal development,” remarks Rabbi Miller.
In July, the wives of these yungeleit will also enjoy a couple of training presentations provided by Rebbetzins involved in teaching, local chesed organizations, and shul events, to give them a taste of the day-to-day life of a Rebbetzin.
STAR-K President Avrom Pollak concludes, “In addition to our STAR-K Kollel, in Lakewood, and our Institute of Halachah, this is just another aspect of how the STAR-K is manifesting its educational programs which exemplify STAR-K’s keen interest in preparing qualified, dedicated young men for future leadership roles in Klal Yisrael.”