Part 2-Yeshiva Torah Vodaath at 100: Talmidim of the Mesivta Speak

“Since the class of ’65, there has never been such s’chorah!” Those were the words of the renowned shadchan Reb Yisrael Ber Orenstein, z”l, who took pride in the graduates of Yeshivah Torah Vodaath Class of 1965.

This group included many talmidim who went on to achieve great accomplishments both in their personal and professional lives. The roll call includes Roshei Yeshivos, marbitzei Torah, doctors, lawyers, and businessmen who used their talents and dedication to be mekadesh Shem Shamayim.

Mr. Chaim Leshkowitz was a member of that illustrious class, and he generously gave of his time for Hamodia readers to learn a bit about his experience with the Mesivta.

Why did your parents choose to send you to Yeshivah Torah Vodaath?

I had an older cousin who attended Torah Vodaath, and my parents liked the product that the yeshivah put out, both in terms of the limudei kodesh and the secular studies.

Which Rebbi, Menahel or Rosh Yeshivah did you associate with while in the yeshivah?

During my years in the mesivta (high school), I was close to Harav Yitzchok Yaakov Sekula, shlita, who eventually became the Menahel Ruchni of the entire yeshivah, and also Harav Reuven Scheiner, shlita. In beis medrash, l had a very close relationship with Harav Avrohom Pam, zt”l, and I was also close to Harav Moshe Dov Ber Rivkin, zt”l, from whom I received semichah.

Who was your role model?

Rav Pam left an indelible impression on me, and I maintained my kesher with him forever after. His conduct, both in his bein adam lachaveiro and bein adam laMakom drew us close to the Rosh Yeshivah.

In every situation, I always consulted with Rav Pam, be it personal choices, professional or in klal work. He gave me hadrachah and guidance in everything I did.

For over 30 years, you have served with distinction as the chairman of the board of directors of the yeshivah. May I assume that Rav Pam was involved in your appointment?

Rav Pam certainly was involved. He approached me when the yeshivah was going through difficult times. The Rebbeim had not been paid for a while, and there was turmoil. Rav Pam asked me to become chairman, and I begged off. I told Rav Pam, “I just started building my business, which takes up a lot of time, and I don’t have enough time for my family.”

The next day, he called me and said that he knows he can’t force me, but felt I was the best person to bring together all the factions needed to make the necessary changes. But once again, I had to refuse. Sure enough, I received a call from Rebbetzin Pam.

“Mr. Leshkowitz,” she said, “If Rav Pam thinks that you are the right person for this position, what right do you have to refuse? If this will make his life easier, how dare you say no!” You can imagine that after that mussar shmuess from the Rebbetzin, I had no choice but to accept.

What special character trait did you gain from Yeshivah Torah Vodaath, which you feel is unique to the Yeshivah Torah Vodaath talmid?

The Rebbeim and the yeshivah instilled in us the sense of achrayus that we must have for our fellow Jews. They challenged us to utilize our abilities to the highest levels. Even in the secular department, Rabbi Moshe Lonner, z”l, the principal, would counsel us to do our best, and thereby be mekadesh Shem Shamayim in all our endeavors.

Mr. Chaim Leshkowitz’s yearbook picture from The Scroll, the YTV yearbook, 1965.

What is your fondest memory of your Yeshivah Torah Vodaath experience?

The friendships that we formed, which lasted a lifetime. I also look back with pride at the oiben uhn (front row) of the beis medrash, which was lined with extraordinary talmidei chachamim, yet they were all so approachable.

Can you name some of your contemporaries in Yeshivah Torah Vodaath who went on to serve Klal Yisrael?

Harav Eli Brudny was a classmate, and as a Maggid Shiur in the Mirrer Yeshivah, he is today one of the premier Roshei Yeshivah in America. Mr. Avrohom Biderman, who was drafted by Rav Pam as president of Shuvu around the same time he charged me with being chairman of the board in Torah Vodaath, was also in the yeshivah in my time, as well as Mr. Gedalia Weinberger and other members of the presidium of the board.

Many of my contemporaries became doctors, lawyers, and businessmen, and are examples of the ehrliche baal habayis which Harav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, zt”l, envisioned.

What would you like to see in the future for Yeshivah Torah Vodaath?

That they should continue developing talmidim, in their next century, who will be great in Torah, avodah and gemilus chassadim, and continue to be vital participants in all aspects of Klal Yisrael and role models for all yeshivos.