The life and legacy of Rabbi Jacob and Deborah Rubenstein, z”l, was memorialized this week on the eve of their ninth yahrtzeit, at Yeshiva Heichal HaTorah’s annual dinner. The Rubenstein children dedicated a Sefer Torah, written in their parents’ honor, to the yeshiva, where their grandson, Isaac, will begin attending in the fall. Close to 500 people came to pay tribute to the Rubensteins and the other honorees—Guests of Honor Rabbi and Mrs. Josh Blass, and Mechanech of the Year Rabbi Pesach Skulnick.
Guests dined while the Heichal HaTorah orchestra of Yitzy Rozenberg, Nosson Schuh and Ari Yeger, ably led by the renowned Binyomin Ginzberg, played. After Birchas Hamazon, the Sefer Torah was officially dedicated.
Rav Sheftel Neuberger, shlit”a, menahel of Ner Yisroel, began the program with the recital of a chapter of Tehillim. Next, Rav Mordechai Willig, shlit”a, rosh yeshiva at RIETS, recited a Mi Shebeirach in honor of the Rubenstein family, whose gracious dedication was the highlight of the dinner. Rav Aryeh Stechler, shlit”a, rosh yeshiva and dean of Heichal HaTorah, followed by thanking the Rubensteins and highlighting their parents’ connection to the legacy and perpetuation of Torah that Heichal embodies.
“I remember vividly the time I met with Rabbi Rubenstein,” recalled Rav Stechler. “I posed the question how we could reach all the teenagers in the Jewish community, especially those who are not yet interested in Torah. Rabbi Rubenstein was emphatic that the Torah speaks to all children. If a talmid is uninterested, it only means the rabbi must mine deeper to find an opening to his heart.”
The Sefer Torah was then lifted by Daniel Rubenstein and his family, and the singing and dancing began in earnest. The talmidim of Heichal took center stage and began to joyously sing and dance before the Sefer Torah as it was escorted down the road and toward the Jewish Center building. Among the dignitaries were Rav Hershel Schachter, shlit”a, rosh yeshiva at RIETS, and Rav Beryl Weisbord, shlit”a, menahel ruchni at Ner Yisroel. They were joined by throngs of guests and community members who came out to honor the Rubenstein family and support Heichal HaTorah. The band played song after song, the people sang along, clapping and dancing, as the Torah slowly made its way into the building. Once inside, the celebration reached a fevered pitch as the Torah got closer to the Aron Kodesh.
Flanked on both sides by Heichal’s talmidim and rebbeim, Daniel Rubenstein carried the Sefer Torah up the stairs toward the Aron and, joined by Rav Stechler, placed the Torah in its new home.
“It is a night of firsts,” remarked Yehudah Jacoby, Heichal’s president. “The first Sefer Torah of the yeshiva; honoring the first rebbe; honoring a member of the original executive board; and the yeshiva will, im yirtzeh Hashem, be graduating the first class of talmidim.”
Now in its fourth year, Heichal currently has 85 talmidim. “The impact of the yeshiva on the greater North Jersey and Monsey communities is just beginning,” Mr. Jacoby continued. “I was privileged to speak with a few roshei yeshiva, ramim, mashgichim of various yeshivos in Eretz Yisroel. They told me how impressed they were with the boys—from their level of learning to their middos to their avodas Hashem. One mashgiach even told me they’ve been waiting years for a place like this to be started.”
“I cannot describe to you the thrill that I have coming to yeshiva every day,” said Rabbi Skulnick, “to see bnei aliyah develop in their davening, to teach bnei Torah who are shteiging in their learning by leaps and bounds, to share words of mussar and hashkafah to talmidim who are thirsting for the dvar Hashem. What more could a rebbi want?”
“I think that tonight is really a celebration of the entire 12th-grade class and 12th-grade parents,” added Mrs. Blass. “It’s so hard sending your child to high school in general. Certainly, sending them to an unknown school—as much as we knew the rosh yeshiva—it was still an unknown entity. Each one of these 17 students and their parents really took that jump—and we couldn’t have been any happier. Our son has not only grown into a ben Torah, which is definitely a reflection of his rebbeim, but he’s also learned to love Torah and live Torah, which I think is something that is so unique to Heichal.”