This past Shabbos, Ezra Academy launched its newest community engagement program. Multiple times throughout the year, Ezra will be sending Rabbi Elie Geller to several Queens communities as scholar in residence. Rabbi Geller has been a rabbi in the school for more than ten years.

The programming for the Shabbos began with Rabbi Geller speaking in the main youth minyan in Beth Gavriel. The topic of the shiur was the blessings and curses mentioned in this week’s parshah, finishing off with the idea that the Torah tells us that Moshe Rabbeinu was born from “a man from sheivet Levi and a daughter of sheivet Levi” to show how he was human, just like all of us, and that we all have the potential to achieve greatness. The shiur went on for a half hour and kept everyone in the room engaged throughout. Afterwards, Rabbi Israel Iskhahov, rav of the minyan, spoke about the beauty and uniqueness of Ezra Academy. Some of the members were so impressed with the shiur that they asked Rabbi Geller to give a shiur on Shabbos morning following the seven o’clock minyan.

Following a Shabbos dinner, a special oneg for alumni was held at the home of Mr. Alex and Mrs. Alla Yakubov. The Yakubovs are the parents of Moshe, a graduate from Ezra Class of 2014, and graciously hosted Rabbi Geller and his family for Shabbos. Several alumni came to catch up with their rebbe and hear words of chizuk and inspiration from him. Rabbi Yossi Mendelson, rabbi of Congregation Machane Chodosh and the Yakubovs’ rabbi, joined the oneg and shared divrei Torah, as well. The oneg came to an end after one o’clock in the morning, when they finally looked at the clock to see how late it actually was.

On Shabbos morning, Rabbi Geller prayed at the seven o’clock minyan in Beth Gavriel. The older Ezra alumni showed a tremendous kavod to the rabbi and the school, eagerly purchasing kibudim for him. Following the minyan, Rabbi Geller gave an interactive shiur, which touched upon many different ideas. The shiur was so engaging that people from other minyanim kept coming in to hear the Torah and partake in the discussion. After the shiur was over, countless people went over to Rabbi Geller to express how much they enjoyed the shiur. Many of them, being alumni, went to Ezra before Rabbi Geller began working there and wanted to introduce themselves to him. Others, who weren’t as fortunate to have gone to Ezra, played Jewish geography with their family and friends who did.

Thorough Shabbos afternoon, recent alumni and current students kept coming to the Yakubov residence to spend time with their rebbe. Some students even walked from Fresh Meadows and Jamaica Estates, approximately six miles away! All the boys walked Rabbi Geller to Rabbi Asher Vaknin’s shul for Minchah and s’udah sh’lishis. Rabbi Geller spoke at s’udah sh’lishis about sheivet Shimon’s lacking a blessing and curse, and how we are able to rise over the need of brachah. Again, the shiur kept everyone engaged and wanting more. Rabbi Vaknin followed up by expressing how great Ezra is and how much of a vital role it plays in our community.

Going into Shabbos, we were unsure how the program would be received. Within no time after Shabbos, we began hearing back from alumni of all ages. The Shabbos was groundbreaking and has the community thirsty for more. People were proud to be associated with Ezra Academy and wore the title of alumni as a badge of honor. Rabbi Geller will likely be visiting as scholar in residence again in December, as the yamim tovim are approaching and the school’s Shabbaton will be held in the next few months. If you would like your community to host an Ezra scholar in residence Shabbos, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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