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Rosie and Mark Friedman

Visiting with our son at Orayta, a yeshiva which is imbued with the kedusha of the Ir HaAtika of Yerushalayim was an inspiring experience. In a sense, we were taken back in time through the 3800 year history of the Jewish nation. The tiyul by bus through the Jordan Valley and into Beit She'an was fascinating and informative, and gave the parents an opportunity to fraternize with their sons' friends, fellows, madrichim and rebbeim.

We were impressed to see the multifaceted methods of learning in place at Orayta. Students had the opportunity to attend shiur in either Gemara or Chumash, and to learn b'chavruta with either another student, or with one of the fellows or rebbeim. Parents were encouraged to learn with their sons.

Shabbat was the highlight of our stay. It began with the magnificent Kabbalat Shabbat on the roof of the Yeshiva's crusader fortress building, overlooking the Kotel, led by Rav Binny Friedman. The davening was a very moving experience, enhanced by the achdut, friendship, and mutual respect that was evident amongst the students and Rebbeim. During the Shabbat meals, the parents were encouraged to tell something about their children, and this created an atmosphere of laughter as well as an appreciation of our differences, and the individuality of the students. Many of the students gave Divrei Torah. The presence of seven Orayta alumni over Shabbat was a wonderful addition - in addition to their Divrei Torah, they conveyed to the first year students the understanding that their time in Orayta was a precious gift to be used wisely.

The Rebbeim at Orayta promote an atmosphere of knowledge, kindness, passion and compassion. Their love and respect for the students is expressed through the kind and gentle manner with which they teach and lead. They encourage the students to ask the difficult questions, and strive to provide responses which are meaningful and honest.

What we found to be so educationally vital was the daily learning of the Rabbanim with the fellows – a diverse group of young Rabbinical students. Discussions of methodology, stories and all types of learning impart to the fellows the philosophy of Orayta. They learn to stress to the students certain elements of the seforim they are studying such as the embracing of Hashem, and learning from the tales of our Avot and biblical figures. The skills necessary to learn Mishna and Talmud are developed.

We are so thankful to have met Rav Moish Kornblum during the Israel night program at Ramaz. He was the first person whom Aryeh met from Orayta, and was the catalyst, with Hashem’s help, to lead Aryeh to this program. We want to express hakarat hatov to Rabbi David Aaron, Rav Binny, Rabbi Sam, Rav Noam, Benny Rofeh and Yehuda HaKohen for their tremendous scholarship and hitlahavut, for inspiring Aryeh to continue his journey through study and introspection, and for their kavod for, and trust and confidence in Aryeh and all the students of Orayta. We want to give thanks to the very devoted madrichim who have the difficult task of getting the boys to fulfill their responsibilities while still maintaining a meaningful and close relationship with them. Kol hakavod to Josh and Yoni on Chabad street, and Yaakov from Rechov Tuppim.

We loved meeting the families of Rabbi David Aaron, Rav Binny Friedman and Rav Moish Kornblum. We were so fortunate to experience that side of these giants of Torah and Chessed. We saw that all the families knew the students of Orayta. When we introduced ourselves to Yair Friedman Shabbat morning, he said: “Aryeh’s your son? Oh, he’s a really good guy.”

We also want to thank Scott Apfelbaum, Devorah Moss and Shlomit for organizing such a magnificent and delightful Shabbat for all the parents and students, and for their constant patience and understanding.

In conclusion, “Ve’Eleh Shemot Bnei Yisrael” – we are thankful to HaKadosh Baruch Hu for keeping our son, Aryeh, and his fellow students, involved, committed and filled with a thirst for Limudei Kodesh, as they continue their quest to become proactive mebers of Klal Yisrael. We are so touched that Aryeh now has, Baruch Hashem, a place in Yerushalayim, on Misgav Ladach street, that he can always call his own in a beautiful, warm Beit Midrash filled with the light of Torah. Tihiyu Bri’im to all who dwell and slumber on Rechov Chabad and Rechov Tuppim.

Shabbat shalom to all of you!

B’Kavod Rav u’B’yedidut

Rosie and Mark Friedman

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