Sinai Academy to Present the First Annual Rav Elya Svei zt”l Memorial Award at Dinner Tonight


rav-elya-svei1The recent passing of the Philadelphia rosh yeshiva, Rav Elya Svei zt”l, has left the entire Jewish community bereft, lost and alone without a beloved leader. This is especially so for those at Sinai Academy, a yeshiva that Rav Elya Svei founded and nurtured. Rav Elya believed strongly in the possibilities that existed at Sinai. The yeshiva held a very special place in his heart. Twenty-two years ago, the rosh yeshiva called a meeting in the office of noted askan Reb Shimon Glick. The purpose was to establish a yeshiva high school for immigrant youth from the former Soviet Union. The rosh yeshiva and Shimon Glick brought in Rav Aryeh Katzin from Eretz Yisroel for this purpose. The rosh yeshiva had a vision that Russian Jews had the potential for greatness and could produce true leaders and bnei Torah, if only they were given a chance. Back then, it wasn’t easy to persuade others of this mission. Seventy years of Communism had certainly taken its toll and the vast majority of immigrants were alienated from Torah and Yiddishkeit. However, the askonim heeded the call, and thus was born Sinai Academy.

Sinai Academy is a yeshiva high school for immigrant youth with little or no knowledge of their Jewish heritage. At Sinai, the rabbeim take their talmidim under their wings and introduce them to a life of Torah and Yiddishkeit. It’s not unusual for Sinai talmidim to continue their learning in yeshivos gedolos both in America and in Eretz Yisroel, Many even go on to become leaders or mentors to the next generation of Sinai students. 

The first class of Sinai talmidim was far removed from Yiddishkeit. The community was skeptical, but the rosh yeshiva insisted that people help Sinai in any way they can. A pidyon haben ceremony was held that year for some of the boys, and the rosh yeshiva spoke, reminding the olam of a famous story that occurred when Rav Shimon Schwab visited the Chofetz Chaim.  The Chofetz Chaim asked Rav Schwab if he was a kohen, and he said that he was not, since his father and grandfather were also not kohanim. Then the Chofetz Chaim challenged him by saying, “Do you know why I’m a kohen and you’re not? Because when Moshe Rabbeinu tried to gather the Yidden to his side during the tumultuous time of the chet ha’eigel, my ancestors heeded the call and yours didn’t. That commitment to join Moshe Rabbeinu in his battle has had an impact that is lasting for generations.” Similarly, said the rosh yeshiva, the plight of our Russian brethren is the sacred cause of our generation. Those who will heed the call and join the battle for the sake of Russian Jewry will see much nachas. Their deeds will make an impact that will last for generations.

Reb Itchy Goldbrenner heeded the call back then and continues to be committed to Sinai. Itchy will be the recipient of the first Rav Elya Svei zt”l Memorial Award. As an alumnus of the Yeshiva of Philadelphia, Itchy became active in Sinai from the very beginning. The very first fundraising event for Sinai, a parlor meeting, was actually held in his home. Itchy has seen the yeshiva grow and flourish over the years and can truly reap nachas from what he and others have accomplished.. Join Itchy and several other esteemed honorees at the yeshiva‘s Twenty Fourth Anniversary Dinner, to be held tonight  at the Torah V’Yirah Hall in Boro Park. 

At the dinner, Sinai Academy will also be presenting the Keser Shem Tov Award to Shuey and Chavy Rhine, the Ahavas Yisroel Award to the Chammah family, and the Sruly Miller z”l Alumnus Achievement Award to Shlomo Sadykov, a Sinai alumnus. A special memorial tribute will be made l’zecher nishmas Yechiel Michel ben Tzvi, Shimon ben Mayer Koppel, and Mashia Devorah bas Moshe Dov, by their children, Gedalya and Mati Jacobovits.  The dinner chairman will be Avi Schron. Boruch Feldheim, Leizer Dovid Fisch and Meir Tzvi Stern will serve as co-chairmen.

While Sinai has grown over the years, the basic mission of the yeshiva remains the same. Reb Nochum Dick, President of the Board of Directors of Sinai, vividly remembers the time the rosh yeshiva was presented with the fourth volume of “Oros Me’ofel,” a compilation of chiddushei Torah written by Sinai students and alumni. Rav Elya had tears in his eyes as he choked up and said, “Who would have imagined that we would be zoche to see such peiros?” This vision remained dear to him until the very end of his life. The rosh yeshiva may no longer be with us, but his vision remains alive in the hearts of the supporters and friends of Sinai as well as its many talmidim.

{Dovid Newscenter}



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