Wednesday nights are buzzing with the energy and excitement of animated Torah study as Emet Outreach’s TorahConnect is once again in full swing. Held at Beth Gavriel, the men’s installment of this popular program has been drawing a weekly crowd of over 70 participants for chavrusa-style learning.
Since its original debut for women in the fall of 2019 and for men in early 2020, TorahConnect has been a successful forum where Emet students of varying Jewish backgrounds have been paired with members of the community to connect and learn Torah in-depth.
“Aside from the incredible learning, the secret to TorahConnect’s appeal is the special care our team takes to introduce community mentors to students who have compatible personalities and interests,” said Mrs. Rivka Muskat, Associate Director. “One of our goals is to help students form relationships with their mentors so that they can eventually spend Shabbos and Yom Tov with community families. We’re grateful to the community for responding so warmly.”
Participants in TorahConnect are from a multitude of backgrounds. On the Emet side, the majority are public school graduates who are filling the gaps in their Jewish education. There are undergraduate college students as well as a variety of young professionals. The mentor side is comprised of established community members who are professionals and businessmen, as well yeshivah and kollel members from Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim in Queens and Yeshiva Zichron Aryeh in Far Rockaway.
“We’re about halfway through this eight-week session, and every week it’s an incredible experience,” said Rabbi Ari Hertz, Emet Mekarev and TorahConnect Program Coordinator. “Each of the chavrusos selected his own study topics and many of the partners are learning Gemara. I love the enthusiasm and dedication.”
Students were eager to share their impressions about the program. Nisan Katanov said, “This is my first time joining TorahConnect and I really feel like I’m part of something important. My first session got off to a funny start. I grabbed some food and sat across from a great guy, Yoyo Yachnes. We hit it off instantly. Then Rabbi Hertz came over and asked how we knew we were learning together. He had intended to set us up, but we actually found each other on our own! That shows how much time goes into making sure we have the right partner.”
Jonathan Koyenov added, “TorahConnect has been a wonderful experience where I’ve been getting to know some great people including my learning partner named Avi. With Avi, I am able to voice my thoughts about Judaism, philosophy, and what matters in a comfortable and inviting environment that encourages learning and education. We get to bounce back ideas and concepts. I thoroughly enjoy the sessions and I would absolutely recommend the program!”
Emet welcomes more students and community members to join the men’s TorahConnect, which will run until Pesach and then resume after Yom Tov. Anyone who is interested in volunteering to be a mentor should please contact Rabbi Hertz at 786-413-4859.
The women’s TorahConnect is also underway. Please visit EmetOutreach.org/TorahConnect to become involved.