Monday marked the day that the international Jewish community commemorated Yom HaZikaron: a day that was perhaps more solemn and meaningful than ever before. MTA talmidim can all relate to the current matzav in Eretz Yisrael. Many were in Eretz Yisrael on October 7, and since their return have heard many speakers who add to the talmidim’s understanding and appreciation of what is happening now. Everyone is living through the War of Iron Swords and is acutely aware of the rise in anti-Semitism everywhere, including their own neighborhoods.

MTA’s programming on Monday was incredibly powerful and moving. A tekes was held, the Mi SheBeirach LaChayalim was sung, but what was perhaps the most poignant part of the morning programming was hearing about Captain Ori Shani, a captain who was unfortunately killed on October 7, on Kibbutz Kissufim. One of the things found among Captain Shani’s possessions was a list titled “Al Atzmi,” and looked much like a list someone might write during the time of Aseres Y’mei T’shuvah, when one takes on a kabbalah towards self-improvement.

Rabbi Konigsberg delivered a powerful presentation to initiate a school-wide campaign to adopt one item from Captain Shani’s list. An inspiring program served to encourage all MTA talmidim to sign up for one of several chaburos that focuses on the same kabbalos that Captain Shani was intent on working on throughout this year. In an effort to continue his legacy and allow the spirit of his neshamah to live on, MTA talmidim and rebbeim will pick up where he was forced to leave off, by growing in their personal avodas Hashem in areas like learning Mishnayos, strengthening their study and observance of halachah, self-reflection and working on midos, among other items from Captain Shani’s list, in his merit.

In addition to this moving morning program, talmidim packed the library later that day to hear from MTA alumnus and current RA of the MTA dorm, Kovi Pahmer (’20) who returned a few months ago from active duty, after being called up on Sh’mini Atzeres. Kovi told his own story of getting back to Eretz Yisrael to re-enlist, as well as the unfortunate losses he personally lived through. The packed room was silent as he spoke about his experiences, and everyone left with a bit more of an understanding of what it has been like to be called up to serve in Gaza.

As MTA transitioned from Yom HaZikaron to Yom HaAtzmaut, there was a much deeper feeling of appreciation for the role that Eretz Yisrael plays in everyone’s lives, and how important it truly is to every Jew, regardless of where he lives. It is the hope that all of the talmidim will take that feeling of belonging to something greater, and support acheinu B’nei Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael in every way possible.

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