“A once-in-a-lifetime experience” was the common sentiment expressed by Emet Outreach students about the week-long learning program they joined at Beth Medrash Govoha (BMG), the renowned yeshivah in Lakewood, New Jersey. A group of 16 eager participants, from Emet’s Higher Level Men’s Division, were fortunate to earn spots at the Lakewood Fellowship Winter Program. This initiative was spearheaded by Torah Links, the outreach arm of BMG, and was geared towards “highly motivated, accomplished young men who’ve demonstrated a commitment to exploring Judaism.” Emet has sent a few students to learn in Lakewood in the past, but this was the first time Torah Links hosted an exclusive program for Emet’s college students and young professionals. “We’re truly honored to have sent students from the Emet Olami Beit Midrash to learn at BMG,” said Rabbi Akiva Rutenberg, Emet Co-Founder and Director. “This program represents our goal to grow with our students and to provide higher-level learning opportunities as they build their abilities and incorporate Torah study into their daily lives.”
The comprehensive program was held the last week in December and featured a combination of intense Talmud learning in the beis midrash every morning, insightful shiurim from communal leaders, and afternoon recreational programs. Each student received personal attention and was assigned a daily “chavrusa” from the Ner LeElef Division, which trains BMG scholars for rabbinic and educational careers. Emet students were also treated with warm hospitality and were placed with local Lakewood families for the duration. One night, the group was honored to be hosted for dinner by Rabbi Avi Cassel, Regional Director of Olami North America, and his family. Another highlight was an incredibly uplifting Shabbos with the community.
“The program was phenomenal. Not only did the guys get to learn with their own BMG chavrusos, but they also had the z’chus to learn in the biggest yeshivah in America,” said Rabbi Michael Fuzaylov, Emet Campus Rabbi. “It was beautiful for the students, who are becoming frum, to see how to synthesize Torah study into daily life. Everyone was shteiging with such intensity!” In addition to Rabbi Fuzaylov, Rabbi Reuven Kigel, Campus Director, and Rabbi Yaakov Musheyev, Torat Emet Coordinator, were on hand and actively involved.
There was mutual respect and appreciation between Emet and the Torah Links team, with some of the BMG rabbis commenting about how impressed they were with how well the students could dissect Gemara. The words of Emet students express the impact best. “The program was full of memorable moments that I’ll definitely be telling my future grandkids about. Never in my life did I think I’d end up learning in such a holy yeshivah. It was eye-opening to learn with one of the top students there and have such an amazing and challenging chavrusa,” said David Khaimov. “Lakewood as a whole is such a fascinating community that is established around Torah. They are willing to open their doors to ‘strangers’ and are able to give them a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m thankful for Emet, all the rabbis, and all the participants for such an awesome experience.”
Jacob Musheyev added, “One of the most memorable experiences from the trip was sitting down with our host families during Shabbos and learning about how the community in Lakewood functions. I was able to see that there are communities where Torah learning is very heavily encouraged and, while a career is important, it’s not necessarily the most important thing.”
Emet would like to thank all of the wonderful Torah Links and BMG rebbeim who made this program so meaningful, including Rabbi Aaron Gruman, Rabbi Moishe Katz, Rabbi Ezriel Munk, Rabbi Zevy Freundlich, Rabbi Moshe Bender, Rabbi Meir Goldberg, Rabbi Zevi Schecter, and Rabbi Yehuda Farber.
For further information about Emet programs, visit EmetOutreach.org. To experience Emet’s comprehensive video library of Torah lectures, visit EmetTorah.com.