On Monday, 27 Cheshvan/November 9, rabbonim and bnei Torah gathered at the home of Baruch Jeremias in Lakewood for a celebration. The evening marked the inauguration of what promises to be yet another achievement in Torah and kedushah for the Tpheris Israel community of Chesterfield, Missouri, through the formation of the Chesterfield Kollel.
The yungeleit and roshei kollel met with Rav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, rosh yeshiva of Bais Medrash Govoah, and other rabbonim, including Rav Aharon Winter, mara d’asra of Chesterfield, and Rav Eliezer Herzka, rov of Khal Meor Chaim of Lakewood, to mark the upcoming haschalah of this lofty venture and to hear divrei chizuk and brachah.
Chesterfield, Missouri: A Brief History
Tpheris Israel was established in 1883 in eastern St. Louis to welcome newly-arrived eastern European Jews. In 1973, under the direction of Rav Milton Polin and a group of pioneers, Tpheris Israel Congregation moved from eastern St. Louis to the suburban community of Chesterfield, Missouri.
Through the years, under the direction of distinguished rabbinic leaders, the congregation admirably strove to hold on to their traditions and their heritage. When Rabbi and Rebbetzin Aharon Winter arrived in Chesterfield twenty-six years ago, it was a small community searching for spiritual growth. The rabbi and rebbetzin had a mission. Imbued with the lofty ideals of Rav Henoch Leibowitz zt”l, they believed that by simply introducing and presenting the emes of undiluted Torah to their Jewish brethren, no matter how unaffiliated they were, the Torah being taught would have the power to enter their neshamos and transform their lives. With the continued support of Rav Henoch, and in light of the fact that nearly half of Chesterfield’s population of 47,000 is Jewish, the community saw incredible communal and spiritual growth.
Over the next twenty-five years, the shul thrived and the baalei batim developed greater levels of shemiras hamitzvos and limud haTorah. These families of Tpheris Israel supported their rov in raising the mechitzah twice, building and maintaining an eruv, designing and building a beautiful mikvah, and, most recently, establishing a yeshiva high school and bais medrash, Mesivta D’Missouri, in the shul. Mesivta D’Missouri now has over eighty boys learning on a brand new campus.
Rabbi Winter would be the first to state that throughout those years, all he ever did was showcase the beauty of Torah and stress the need for spirituality in our lives. The baalei batim were always willing to be moser nefesh for the shul and the community’s spiritual growth. Walk into Tpheris Israel today and behold a frum, welcoming, diverse and ever-growing kehillah committed to genuine Torah values.
And now the next step: A full-time kollel.
The Idea of a Kollel is Developed
Thanks to a combination of devoted baalei batim, a dynamic rov, the physical beauty of a suburban Midwestern city, a mikvah, an eruv, a yeshiva and an economically vibrant community looking and able to provide frum couples with employment, Chesterfield and the shul continued to grow. A new trend had begun where young families began looking to relocate to smaller, more affordable, out-of-town communities. Many of them have chosen Chesterfield, Missouri. The many medical doctors and professionals in the shul have consistently recruited, encouraged and helped students, interns and new graduates secure positions in various institutions.
A vital component of the growth of Chesterfield has been the expansion of MGM Healthcare, a skilled nursing conglomerate, managed and operated in part by Rabbi Yehudah Bienstock and Baruch Jeremias. MGM has continuously helped Chesterfield by hiring qualified professionals to fill a wide spectrum of positions and is committed to furthering Chesterfield’s vibrancy by continuing to offer employment options to eligible candidates interested in relocating.
Sparked by this recent communal growth, Rabbi Winter saw a need to enhance the limud haTorah in the community, and the baalei batim, yet again, were looking to satiate their never-ending thirst to enhance the ruchniyus within their community. Thus, the idea of a kollel was born.
A Twist of Hashgachah
When Rabbi Moshe Winter, of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, was contacted with the proposal of assembling and running the kollel for Tpheris Israel, the search began for an additional leader – a true talmid chochom and masmid – with the koach to lead high-caliber yungeleit in learning. After months of searching, Rabbi Sroy Levitansky of the kollel development department of Bais Medrash Govoah, in a stroke of pure Hashgachah, informed the shul that he believed he had found the perfect candidate: Rabbi Yitzchok Winter. Reb Yitzchok is a son of the late Rav Kalman Winter zt”l of Silver Spring, Maryland, and a nephew of Rav Aharon Winter of Chesterfield. This opportunity was too great and providential for the community or Reb Yitzchok to pass up, so together, Reb Moshe and Reb Yitzchok, pulled together a team of four extraordinary kollel families.
At the event last week at the home of Baruch Jeremias, the yungeleit, Reb Pesach Ashkenazi, Reb Moshe Chaim Biron, Reb Yisroel Mair Frank and Reb Yaakov Stein, heard words of encouragement from Rav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler and Rav Eliezer Herzka, who described the tremendous opportunity they are being given to uplift the entire community through Torah learning. The vision of Rabbi Aaron Kotler, CEO of Bais Medrash Govoah, and Baruch Jeremias to tirelessly build Torah across the Jewish divide gave all the attendees additional chizuk in supporting this kollel and for the continued mission of Rav Aaron Winter to build Torah in the Midwest.
Be’ezras Hashem, the kollel will open in mid-January as the next step in Chesterfield’s physical and spiritual growth.