The theme of the evening was Mesorah, as 350 people gathered to celebrate with the honorees and applaud the achievements of 26 young men who received rabbinic ordination at Touro’s Lander College for Men Beis Medrash L’Talmud Chag HaSemichah. Family members, alumni, rebbeim, supporters, and honorees came together to recognize, reflect, and rejoice at the Gala Dinner, which was held at Terrace on the Park this past Sunday.

A reception where old friends, talmidim, and rebbeim reconnected was followed by a formal program honoring Lander College for Men supporters and musmachim, and celebratory dancing.

Alumni and honorees spoke of the warmth and feeling of family that those who make Lander College their academic and spiritual home enjoy. Their words were brought to life as the various rebbeim called up each of the newly ordained rabbis to receive their semichah certificates, recounting individual accomplishments, anecdotes, and milestones, and showcasing the personal connection forged between rebbeim and talmidim.

“During the past two years, we’ve experienced tremendously difficult times…can we really celebrate tonight?” asked Dr. Alan Kadish, Touro University President. Answering his own question, he continued, “Over the last three millennia, Jewish people have been subjected to tremendous challenges, and our response is to turn to our tradition, to continue our mesorah and the granting of semichah is a critical part of that. Our response to tragedy is to strengthen our relationship with Hashem, and that is what our rebbeim and musmachim are doing, as well as everyone here who recognizes the importance of our mission and supports it.”

Semichah Then and Now: Embracing the Next Generation of Leaders

HaRav Yonason Sacks shlita, Rosh HaYeshivah of Lander College for Men Beis Medrash L’Talmud, shared insight into semichah, which means “placing of the hands” by pointing to the original semichah and the relationship between Moshe Rabbeinu and his protégé, Yehoshua. He explained that Moshe did not simply declare Yehoshua as his successor in leadership of the Jewish people; he also placed his hands on Yehoshua, showing the importance of nurturing a personal relationship. “Moshe was only commanded to place one hand on Yehoshua, but he reached out with both of his hands. With one hand, you can greet a talmid and with two hands, you can embrace a talmid. Tonight, we embrace each and every one of our talmidim who have risen to the challenge of learning for semichah,” said Rabbi Sacks.

“My charge to all of you as you enter the world as rabbis is to be agents of Hashem and of k’neses Yisrael. That balance is essential: You will represent Hashem; and in the most empathetic and compassionate way, you will stand for the Jewish people. You now have the tremendous z’chus to be part of our glorious mesorah and pass on our tradition to the next generation. May you all be the worthiest shluchim and may your avodas ha’kodesh bring all of us much nachas,” continued Rabbi Sacks.

The evening also included video presentations showcasing the achievements of the dinner’s honorees, including HaRav Moshe Bamberger, Mashgiach of Lander College for Men Beis Medrash L’Talmud, who was lauded for the love and connection he shares with his many talmidim, or his “living s’farim” that extend for years beyond their time at Lander College; alumni awardees Jordan & Shoshana Kaplan and Ira & Sara Suss, whose sterling character and unwavering commitment to giving back to Lander College on an ongoing basis is legendary; the Goldmeier family of St. Louis who were presented with the Family Legacy Award and whose personal values of charity, kindness, and honesty are emblematic of Lander College, where they chose to send five of their six sons; and Rabbi Lavi Greenspan, Community Service Award recipient, whose constant presence at Lander College is an inspiration to the students, staff, and faculty.

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