On Wednesday morning, January 9, Yeshiva Primary’s Kitah Gimmel celebrated a unique Chumash party. With her trademark passion, enthusiasm, and love for her students, Rebbetzin Channah Hecht, second and third grade Limudei Kodesh morah at Yeshiva Primary for over 20 years, welcomed everyone. She stated, “Each child is a diamond, as the Lubavitcher Rebbe taught. When they learn Torah and mitzvos, they shine like a beautiful diamond.” She shared that she teaches each child as she would want a morah to teach her child. “They are my children!” She noted that when Hashem gave the Torah, He asked, “Who will be our guarantors?” The parents shouted, “Our children will be our guarantors.”
Rebbetzin Hecht pointed to the smiling row of students lined up on stage, many of whom recently transferred from public school to yeshivah. “These are our guarantors!” She taught that the Hebrew word ben, which means son, has the same root as boneh, which means to build. “Children are the building blocks of the future of klal Yisrael.”
Morah Yocheved Abramovitz, longtime fifth and sixth grade Limudei Kodesh teacher at Yeshiva Primary, accompanied the students on keyboard with beautiful music as the students sang heartfelt songs about the Torah, Shabbos, and the Beis HaMikdash.
Next, Rebbetzin Hecht shared the story of the man who asked Hillel to teach him the whole Torah on one foot. Hillel taught, “Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want them to do to you. V’ahavta l’rei’acha kamocha. Love a fellow Jew as you love yourself – that is the basis of the whole Torah. Now go and learn the rest.” She stated, “Every Jew is our sister and our brother.”
Following this, the students acted out the story of the two brothers who demonstrated love for one another by secretly leaving wheat for the other one in a certain place, and that became the very place Hashem chose to build the Beis HaMikdash. The students are beginning to learn Parshas Lech L’cha. Individual students stepped forward and recited p’sukim from the parshah. Rebbetzin Hecht emphasized that we have emunah and bitachon in our DNA right back to the times of Avraham Avinu.
Next, the students sang “Sh’ma Yisrael” with Morah Abramovitz’s stirring accompaniment. Hearing the children sing this song --the beauty of that moment went straight to the listener’s heart. When we reflect on the fact that many of these students come from parent or grandparents who lived in the Soviet Union and were not allowed to learn Torah or perform mitzvos, its truly a wonderful thing to see their descendants learning in yeshivah. Hashem’s promise of Jewish survival is right here in front of our eyes in Queens, baruch Hashem!
For the finale of the program, the students sang the song, “Yibaneh HaMikdash.”
After this, Rabbi Zalmen Deutscher, Founder and Dean of Yeshiva Primary, gave each student an individual brachah, as Mrs. Judy Klein, Menaheles of Yeshiva Primary, handed each student his or her brand new chumash. Rabbi Deutscher wished the children hatzlachah and brachah with their Torah learning, and he spoke to them about how to care for the chumash and to treat it with respect.
Yeshiva Primary was founded by Rabbi Deutscher in 1969. The yeshivah’s goal is to help students to progress to mainstream yeshivos and to go on to lead lives filled with Yiddishkeit and love of Torah. A high percentage of the students do move on to mainstream yeshivos. Through the progress of its mechinah program, Yeshiva Primary has successfully provided a smooth transition for its public school students to adjust to a yeshivah curriculum so that they can become our future leaders.
Among many successful and noted graduates of the school, Mr. Shimon Kolyakov is helping to spread Torah to millions around the world with the program he and his brother Rubin founded and direct: TorahAnytime.com. Mr. Kolyakov shared that he first began learning about Yiddishkeit in a JEP program when he was in fourth grade, and the director of JEP, Rabbi Yaakov Finestone, helped Mr. Kolyakov to get admitted to Yeshiva Primary.
Yeshiva Primary is located in Holliswood, Queens, and is staffed by dedicated professionals who truly want to make a difference for their students. Most of the graduates over the past 30 years advanced to college and to professional careers. Ninety percent of the graduates move on to study in mainstream yeshivah and Bais Yaakov schools.
Rabbi Deutscher’s philosophy of kiruv is two-fold. Look at each child as an individual, not as a number. Don’t worry about their ruchniyus. Instead, love the child. First worry about their physical well-being, then you can win their ruchniyus.
The teachers in limudei kodesh and secular studies are dedicated professionals who bring academic excellence, warmth, and caring to their students.
The school includes a science lab program. It also boasts a state-of-the-art literacy program under the direction of Dr. Ann Douglas and this writer. Students also participate in computer science, art, and gym classes.
The menaheles, Mrs. Judy Klein, helps to create the warm atmosphere in the school, which encourages learning and brings out the highest potential of each student.
The creative projects, the artistic bulletin boards, deep classroom discussions all reflect the dedication and professionalism of the staff. Students learn to feel pride in their Jewish heritage. Many students bring the joy of love of Yiddishkeit to their families. The following anecdote related by Morah Abramovitz tells the true story of what Yeshiva Primary is all about. One year, a former Yeshiva Primary student came back to meet with the staff and principals at an annual teacher appreciation luncheon. She is married and wearing a sheitel. She said that because she and her sister attended Yeshiva Primary, their parents became frum and this extended to aunts and uncles, and eventually their entire family became frum.
Hashem should continue to bless this extraordinary yeshivah!
By Susie Garber