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Monday, February 17, 2020

Nearly 180 MTA students assembled on June 4 in Yeshiva University’s Furst Hall to celebrate the school’s sixth annual yeshiva-wide siyum. The event marked a year of great accomplishment and Talmud Torah growth with the completion by each student of an entire massechta in Shas.

At the end of the school day, the boys quietly made their way into the elegantly adorned room, accompanied by their parents and guests from all over the metropolitan area, MTA Rebbeim and faculty members, and YU Roshei Yeshiva HaRav Hershel Schachter, HaRav Mordechai Willig and HaRav Yaakov Neuburger, shlita. This was, as in previous years, a tremendously important event for the boys, and many upperclassmen were thrilled to celebrate their third and fourth siyum at MTA. Mrs. Miriam Goldberg, chair of the YUHS Board of Trustees, was also in attendance, as were a number of rebbeim from local yeshiva elementary schools, who were invited by their students, currently in MTA, to share in this joyous occasion.

Rabbi Michael Taubes, MTA’s Rosh Yeshiva, began the event with brief remarks about the incredible achievement of so many students from across all academic levels making a siyum, which should be a source of great pride for everyone present. He lauded both the talmidim and rebbeim for their efforts. Citing an interpretation on the weekly parsha, B’ha’aloscha, by HaRav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, zt’l, Rabbi Taubes pointed out that a Rebbe must be someone who not only teaches and imparts information, but also connects to students on a personal level. That connection shapes the character of each student. Rabbi Taubes added that an accomplishment like a siyum and a celebration like this one helps foster that important relationship. He also gave well-deserved credit to Rabbi Netanel Danto, Maggid Shiur and Grade Mashgiach in the eleventh grade, and Rabbi Rafi Pearl, Maggid Shiur in the ninth and tenth grades, for their extraordinary work in coordinating the truly momentous evening. Special thanks were likewise extended to the many individuals who generously served as event sponsors.

Rabbi Taubes then introduced HaRav Hershel Schachter, who spoke about the importance of this occasion as a milestone in life. He talked about the value of having so many talmidim of different ages learning together, and of the idea that through Torah learning, one can get a glimpse of what HaKadosh Baruch Hu himself is all about, and thereby come to develop a personal connection with Him. Following his remarks, Rav Schachter was presented with a small piece of artwork as a token of MTA’s appreciation for his having taught regular chaburos to numerous groups of MTA students throughout the year. The same presentation was made to Rav Willig and Rav Neuburger, and, in absentia, to HaRav Aharon Kahn, HaRav Mayer Twersky and HaRav Moshe Weinberger, shlita, who similarly learned with our students on a regular basis during the school year.

Yisrael Friedenberg (‘15) subsequently began the siyum itself, having completed Masseches Kesubos, and he also introduced the most recent issue of Pirchei Yitzchak, MTA’s annual student and faculty Torah publication, which appeared “hot off the presses” in time for the siyum. Josh Matatov (‘15), Michael Kolber (‘16) and Josh Appel (‘17) then completed the formal siyum on behalf of their almost 180 classmates who had studied Massechtos Megillah, Tamid and others.

After the Kaddish, which ended the siyum itself, the boys, their parents and their Rebbeim took the floor for a half-hour of joyous and highly spirited dancing. The energy in the room was palpable, and, in the words of one faculty member, “Events like this are truly unique. It’s just an incredible opportunity.” Yehoshua Szafranski, an MTA alumnus from 2014, having just returned from his studies in Eretz Yisrael, joined his younger brother Eli, a sophomore, in celebration of his completion of Masseches Megillah. “I just couldn’t miss the annual siyum,” said the older Szafranski. “It’s events like this that truly make MTA special.” In a similar vein, Mrs. Deborah Rosensweig, mother of student Elisha (‘16) and graduates Chayim (‘12) and Moshe (‘14), remarked how this was an accomplishment and an event that can happen “nowhere but here.”

The evening concluded with a delicious Carlos and Gabby’s catered meal, a  guest dvar Torah from Rabbi Mark Wildes, director of the Manhattan Jewish Experience and father of Yosef (‘15) and Ezra (‘17), on the great importance of the effort and toil that go into Torah study, and the distribution of special seforim by all the rebbeim to their respective talmidim. Everybody left the event uplifted and inspired by the display of pride in a significant Torah accomplishment and of genuine kavod HaTorah.