For 31 years, Rabbi Yaakov Lonner, YCQ’s Executive Director, has gone above and beyond the call of duty. Despite the long hours and the many responsibilities that come with the job, Rabbi Lonner took time out of his busy schedule to teach the students of our Yeshiva. Every week, students who participated in the afterschool Mishmar program had the opportunity to hear words of Torah and wisdom from Rabbi Lonner.
When Rabbi Menachem Rottenberg z”l retired, he asked Rabbi Lonner to teach the weekly Mishmar slot. Mishmar was not part of the job description for either one of them. Rather, this was something that they initiated on their own to further connect with the talmidim they were giving so much to during the day.
Mishmar with Rabbi Lonner was an experience like no other. Though there were always snacks, raffles, and end-of-year trips, the real excitement was watching Rabbi Lonner truly bring the material to life. He would act out stories in the parshah, Pirkei Avos, and other sources, and help students relate the Torah to their everyday lives.
Rabbi Lonner made it a point to create a curriculum that stressed midos tovos. He would emphasize the importance of making a kiddush Hashem and the obligation we have as B’nei Yisrael to be an or la’goyim. He helped students become better people and better Jews by helping create an emotional and genuine connection to Hashem.
When Rabbi Lonner recounted the experience of teaching Mishmar since 1991, he was glowing and explained that it was one of the most satisfying experiences of his career. He described how he would walk out of each session feeling invigorated and that the enjoyment of sharing Torah was something immeasurable. He was especially proud when parents would tell him how their children gave over the lessons that Rabbi Lonner had taught earlier that week at their Shabbos tables.
Rabbi Lonner’s unwavering commitment to education, kindness, and compassion has inspired generations of students, and will continue to do so for many years to come. On Tuesday, Rabbi Lonner led the final Mishmar of the year with a group of fourth graders who will remember the experience for the rest of their lives.