Yeshiva Darchei Torah Celebrating Historic Chanukas Habayis Today


yaakov-bender-1Yeshiva Darchei Torah is a powerhouse among American yeshivos. It is a makom Torah that has transformed not only the Far Rockaway/Five Towns community where it is located, but also the face ofchinuch in America. World-class rabbeim deliver top-level shiurim and are given the freedom to bring out the best in their talmidim. Simultaneously, the yeshiva lives and breathes its mission of integrating Torah learning with the development of middos tovos, ethics, and menthlichkeit, a chinuch designed to develop each bochur as an authentic Torah personality. A rigorous secular studies program includes many advanced placement courses, reflecting the yeshiva‘s commitment to graduating talmidim who are equipped to navigate a complex world. The yeshiva is unique in promoting excellence in learning while offering an inclusive environment for children of all backgrounds and abilities.

The synthesis of Torah and chessed is a hallmark of Yeshiva Darchei Torah. It infuses the interactions among the rosh hayeshiva, Rav Yaakov Bender, the rabbeim and the talmidim, as well as their relations with the entire yeshiva staff and beyond. Countless acts of both quiet and dramatic chessed take place within the yeshiva, where the path of Torah and chessed is exemplified by the mechanchim in their unswerving and passionate commitment to the needs of the individual and their devotion to the needs of the community.

Yeshiva Darchei Torah was founded in 1972 by Reb Yisroel Bloom z”l, when Far Rockaway proper lacked a yeshiva elementary school. It has grown to more than 1,600 talmidim today, arguably the largest yeshiva of its kind in the tri-state area. The yeshiva consists of a preschool, elementary school, junior high school, mesivta, and bais medrash, and a thriving kollel. Talmidim in the mesivta and bais medrash come not only from the local community, but also cities around the country. Its alumni have gone on to become rabbonim, menahelim, mechanchim, professionals, and businessmen.

Remarkably, the yeshiva remains a warm environment where the yochid does not get lost in the numbers. This is accomplished through a highly decentralized management structure that empowers division menahelim and rabbeim alike, who maintain a close personal familiarity and connection with their talmidim. Regular collaborative meetings are held within and across the yeshiva‘s various divisions, as are frequent sessions with the rosh hayeshiva. Rav Bender is personally involved with students who have different kinds of special circumstances, gives weekly shiurim and shmuessen in the mesivta and bais medrash, and still comes to the preschool every week to passionately learn a new ois of the Alef-Bais with about 120 kindergarten children.

The yeshiva has been a trailblazer. In 1981, it opened an in-house resource center for children with special learning needs, the first of its kind. The center went on to become the renowned Rabenstein Learning Center, which has made a successful Torah education possible for boys who would otherwise have difficulty thriving in a mainstream environment. The Center now offers special services for gifted talmidim as well. Again, in 1995, the yeshiva stepped up to the plate, establishing the Weiss Vocational Program, whose students engage in limud haTorah in the morning and secular studies in the early afternoon, while learning a trade in the later afternoon hours.

Yet another and different kind of foresight has had a transforming impact on the community. The yeshiva‘s development arm, with private financing, has revitalized a run-down section of Far Rockaway in the vicinity of the yeshiva. The initiative has attracted many young frum families to the community, as affordable and respectable housing became available.

Yeshiva Darchei Torah’s rosh hayeshiva is the visionary and driving force behind these innovations. He was brought into the yeshiva as a rebbi in 1978, and was soon promoted to menahel. In recognition of its outstanding contributions to Jewish education, the yeshiva was singled out by Torah Umesorah, becoming the first to receive the Excellence in Education Award, in 1995. Rav Bender and his team of leading mechanchim are sought out as advisors and speakers by mosdos in the United States, Europe and Latin America, and Yeshiva Darchei Torah has become a model that others seek to emulate.

This multi-faceted makom Torah has recently undergone an epic expansion to accommodate the explosive growth that has accompanied a major influx of frum families to the Far Rockaway and Five Towns community. The elementary school was housed in a one-story building interconnected with a proliferation of prefab trailers that had a limited useful life and could not keep pace with the need for more classrooms, as many new parallel classes were added.

The massive new complex, consisting of four interconnected buildings and clocking in at 186,000 square feet, is situated near the mesivta on the yeshiva‘s nine-acre campus. It houses the preschool, elementary school and junior high school, as well as the Rabenstein Learning Center, computer and science labs, a Teacher Training Center, the Diamond Bais Medrash, an enormous dining hall, two modern kitchens for milchigs and fleshigs, and the yeshiva‘s executive offices. The building has many safety and energy efficiency features, and the grounds are being upgraded with new playgrounds, athletic courts, and parking facilities.

The cost of the project was met through favorable financing terms. The community has responded generously with major donations and a growing multitude of other contributions to the ongoing building campaign. Foundations have also provided valuable funding for this vital undertaking.

As Rabbi Zev Bald, the yeshiva‘s director of development, declares, “It is heartwarming to see how many families, foundations, and individuals have risen to the occasion and made dedications for the new complex, thereby helping to secure the future of Torah education.  Many more opportunities remain. It is an historic opportunity.”

Today, there will be a chanukas habayis at the new complex. “This is a milestone for the growth of Torah in America,” exclaims Rabbi Baruch Rothman, director of special projects. “It will be a celebration of inspiration, a truly historic moment, and an event that people will not want to miss.”

The day will begin with the completion of a Sefer Torah that was started two years ago in honor of the rabbeim of the yeshiva. The hachnosas Sefer Torah will take place throughout the streets of Far Rockaway with music, dancing and singing, as the Torah is accompanied to its home in the new complex. The joyous event will conclude with the unveiling of the dedications and an assembly, where gedolim will address the audience. A concurrent program of entertainment will be available for children.

The following is the full schedule of events:

11:30 AM-12:30 PM – A Sefer Torah that was started a few years ago in honor of the rabbeim will be completed at the home of Dovid ’85E and Shifi Bloom, at 523 Cedar Hill Road, Far Rockaway, NY 11691.

12:45 PM – The crowd will dance from the Yeshiva’s old building at 1214 Heyson Road, Far Rockaway, to the Diamond Bais Medrash of the new complex – 257 Beach 17th Street. The march will be via Seagirt Boulevard.

1:30 PM – The program, for men and women, will take place in a massive tent on the Yeshiva campus. Scores of Gedolim, Roshei Yeshivos and Rabbonim will grace the dais. Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky and the Novominsker Rebbe will speak, as will the Rosh HaYeshiva, Rav Yaakov Bender; the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Shlomo Avigdor Altusky; and the President, Mr. Ronald Lowinger (not necessarily in that order). The program will conclude with Mincha.

A buffet reception will follow the program, in the new building. Building Worlds, a stunning, coffee-table sized commemorative book about the Yeshiva, will be released – one per family.

1:30-4:00 PM – Concurrent children’s program in the gym and Keilson Auditorium (Waterview) that will include a juggler, storyteller, hot food, a raffle, and more.

NOTE: After 11:15 AM, Beach 17th Street will be closed to vehicular traffic. Valet parking will be available at the corner of Seagirt Boulevard and Beach 19th Street.

{Yossi Newscenter}


  1. I am a alumnus of the yeshiva. I am sorry that I couldn’t make todays event. May Hakadosh Baruch Hu Give Rabbi Bender continued hatzlacha and bracha for many years to come. This is a very big milestone for the yeshiva.

  2. Rabbi Bender is a person with a tremendous heart and gives of himself to a far greater tzibur than just the Far Rockaway/Five Towns community.

  3. What a Kiddush Hashem!!! We wish Rabbi Bender & all the Minadvim and participants much Brocha and Hatzlocha!! As I watched the procession I couldn’t help but think that this is but a minute introduction to the Chanukas Habayis of Bayis Shlishi in Yerushalayim Air Hakodesh, B’mhaira B’yamainu AMEIN!

  4. It was a very moving event for me. I choked up as I thought about all our Yeshivos of yesteryear and how these are being rebuilt. More “osios porchos b’avir” have landed.

    May they, among all other Yeshivos Kedoshos, have much continued growth and success.