Mr. Yitzchok Rothstein came to Yeshiva Torah Vodaath from his home in Boston in 1975 when he was 12 years old and entering eighth grade. He remained in the yeshivah until 1985, one year after he got married. Today, Mr. Rothstein is a lawyer with Feder Kaszovitz LLP, and is an active member of Khal Kesser Yisroel Mordechai in the Midwood section of Brooklyn.
My father, Reb Dovid, and his brother, Reb Gershon, had both learned in Torah Vodaath in their youth. My mother’s father, Rabbi Chaim Feldberg, was also a talmid of Torah Vodaath, and was a classmate of Harav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, zt”l. Rav Scheinberg went on to learn in Mir in Europe, while my grandfather went to Radin to learn from the Chofetz Chaim Zt”l. Upon his return, he was a Rebbi in Torah Vodaath.
In Boston, where I was raised, there was no yeshivah high school. As I grew older and my parents began looking for a yeshivah for me in New York, Torah Vodaath was the natural choice, since the chinuch it offered was what they were looking for.
I learned Maseches Chullin with Harav Chaim Yisrael Belsky, zt”l, in preparation for learning Yoreh De’ah, and he was mesader kiddushin at my wedding. Afterwards, he was my Rav and posek until I settled into a shul. In my professional career as a lawyer, I spoke over many issues with him. I regularly suggested to my clients to insert into their contracts that all disputes would be arbitrated by beis din.
I once called Rav Belsky and requested to sit in and observe a din Torah so that I could learn the process, and he arranged it.
The friendships I developed in Yeshiva Torah Vodaath remain with me both in my personal and professional life.
My classmates consisted of a mix of different types. Some went on to serve the Klal as Roshei Yeshivos and marbitzei Torah, and others became professionals who were the ehrliche baalei battim that Rav Mendlowitz envisioned. But while we were in yeshivah, we joined together as one big happy family. Whether spending time side by side in the beis medrash or summering together in Camp Torah Vodaath, we became close friends, and remained so afterwards.
In my job as an attorney, I often work with friends from yeshivah who I have known for decades. In the shul where I daven, many of the mispallelim are Torah Vodaath alumni. Every year, I join with a classmate to sponsor a fundraiser for Kollel Maor Yeshaya, a kollel in Yerushalayim in which our classmate, Harav Dov Moshe Weinberg, serves as the Rosh Kollel.
Harav Avraham Pam, zt”l, the Rosh Yeshivah. His personality, gadlus in Torah, his temperament, his sterling middos and bein adam lachaveiro were remarkable. I was in his shiur the first year he was ill. We were scheduled to learn basar b’chalav and ta’aruvos, but due to his illness we only completed basar b’chalav. Yet his mesirus nefesh and perseverance as he struggled to come and give us shiur each day despite his pain was inspirational.
I remember once when I was in a store in Flatbush and the worker at the counter gave me extra change. As I returned it, a fellow standing next to me marveled at my honesty. I couldn’t help thinking that my Rebbi would be terribly disappointed with me had I not done so.
No matter where you end up in life, use your talents and energy to serve Hashem and Klal Yisrael.
I remember vividly the day Harav Elya Chazzan, Zt”l, returned to yeshivah after he recovered from his heart attack in 1982. The entire yeshivah went out to greet him, and it was extremely emotional.
I also have fond memories of the Purim chagigah when they put on a Purim shpiel, the chavershaft and atmosphere at the mesibah.
There are a few special memories I have from the time after I left Torah Vodaath. As I mentioned, my father was a talmid, and when he retired, he moved from Boston to New York and rejoined the yeshivah, learning with a chavrusa and attending shiurim with people who could be his children. (He even paid tuition.)
One Sunday, I was learning with my son, and we decided we would drive to Torah Vodaath and learn in the beis medrash. As we entered, we noticed my father learning alone, as his chavrusa was not there that day. So, we all sat together, three generations, learning side by side. Indeed, my oldest grandson, a fourth generation, attended Yeshiva Torah Vodaath while he lived in Brooklyn.
Another time, the legal holidays of December 25 and January 1 fell on Thursday. I attended the Hakhel shiurim delivered by Harav Yisroel Reisman. My office was closed on those Fridays, and for two weeks I went to yeshivah and attended Rav Pam’s Friday morning Chumash shmuess, sitting next to my father.
What would you like to see in the future for Yeshiva Torah Vodaath?
The next 100 years should continue producing the unique combination bnei Torah and ehrliche baalei battim it has produced for the last 100 years.