Monday, July 10, 2017

Mayanot Celebrates 50 Years to the Liberation of Israel’s Capital

For their a gala celebration, 
the Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem 
tracked down the whereabouts of 5 alumni, 
and the results are impressive!

Written by: Anav Silverman

The Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies recently celebrated the miraculous victory of the Six Day War and the renaissance of Jewish education that has flourished in the Jewish people’s eternal capital ever since its reunification, in a special Jerusalem Jubilee evening on Sunday, June 18.

Held at the Menachem Begin Center in Jerusalem, the co-founders of Mayanot, Rabbi Shlomo Gestetner and Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov honored some special supporters of Mayanot’s educational programs, which have impacted thousands of young Jews around the world.

“Mayanot has brought over 50,000 students to Israel through Birthright Israel and other programs,” said Rabbi Shemtov at the opening of the event. “Each year, we bring around 5,000 participants. Thousands have made aliyah to Israel following our programs.”

Mayanot offers annual semester, winter and summer as well as post Birthright Israel study programs for women and men age 20 and over no matter their background in Jewish studies.

David Horovitz, the founding editor of The Times of Israel, who previously worked at the Jerusalem Post and Jerusalem Report, delivered the keynote address at the Jerusalem Jubilee. Mr. Horovitz discussed what it meant for him and his family to come to Israel.  He illustrated what it is like being a part of this great nation, with all its challenges and successes, “when for the first time in 2000 years the Jewish nation got their country back, how can you not want to be a part of it”.

(Mr. David Horovitz giving the keynote address) 

Honorees of the evening included Martin and Melanie Glatt who were the recipients of the Jerusalem Award for their work in enhancing the Jewish experience at the Western Wall through the Kotel Foundation and as dedicated partners in the educational work of Mayanot as well as their leadership of the Jewish Interactive.

Benjamin and Susan Shapell were the recipients of the Aliyah Award for their support of Jewish education and programs that improve life in Israel.

Nicky Newfield, a passionate Jewish educator and founder of the educational technology production house, Jewish Interactive, was the recipient of the Education Award for her pioneering work in Ed-tech.

(From Left: Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, Rabbi Shlomo Gestetner, Johnny & Nicky Newfield, Aviva & Jeffry Kashuk)

“I don’t feel I deserve any kind of award. Twenty years ago, I went to the Gestetners’ home for Shabbat, and they have been role models for me ever since then. Their home truly inspired me,” said Newfield, who made aliyah from South Africa with her family, four years ago.

David and Eda Schottenstein of Florida, were honored for their philanthropic projects including their support of the new Mayanot World Center and were the Recipients of the Leadership Award.

“We see the dividends of our investments in Mayanot. Everywhere we have met Jewish people, we are told about the time they spent in Mayanot and what a positive impact it had on the direction of their lives,” said David Schottenstein upon receiving the award. His wife, Eda, added that Mayanot has “an amazing domino effect that doesn’t seem to end.”

(From Left: Eda & David Schottenstein, Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov) 

One particular spiritual domino effect that Rabbi Shemtov highlighted during the evening was The World Tefillin Campaign that began 50 years ago in response to the imminent danger facing the State of Israel before the outbreak of the Six Day War. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, initiated a campaign to encourage Jewish men and especially IDF soldiers to put on tefillin, as a mitzvah to provide spiritual protection. When Israel had liberated the Old City and the Western Wall, the Rebbe immediately sent a telegram to set up a stand by the Kotel where any Jew could put on tefillin. Fifty years following the Six Day War, the Tefillin Campaign is still alive and strong. 

(From Left: Rabbi Shlomo Gestetner, Martin & Melanie Glatt, Aviva & Jeffry Kashuk, Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov) 

Martin Glatt initiated and sponsored, in partnership with Mayanot and Chabad at the Kotel, a new and improved Tefillin brochure to be used by the Western Wall. This was in honor of the 50th year anniversary of the World Tefillin Campaign and the liberation of the kotel, and every guest was gifted a copy.

Both Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat and Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Dr. Michael Oren, acknowledged the important work of Mayanot in letters shared in the event journals given out during the evening.

“Mayanot has contributed to the renaissance in Jerusalem through their Jewish Studies programs, their thriving synagogue, and their leadership in bringing thousands of students to Israel through Birthright Israel,” wrote Mayor Barkat.

“Through Mayanot, thousands of young Jews have developed a deep connection to Israel and the Jewish nation,” noted Oren, who was the former Israeli ambassador to the United States. “Tonight’s honorees are outstanding examples of our people’s commitment for tikkun olam.”

Guests were honored by a special video presentation of Mayanot alumni impacting society and Israel.

The presentation focused on Etan Efrati’s work at OurCrowd an Israeli Start Up, Eugene Kontorovitch’s work as Director of The Kohelet Policy Forum, Esther Fuerster’s work at the Ministry of Justice, Tzvi Maller’s work as co-owner of Crave gourmet street food in Jerusalem, and Danny Sack’s work as Director of the Mayanot Birthright Israel division.

One audience member, Scott Spiegel, 23, of Miami, who was visiting as part of a Birthright Israel: Mayanot trip, said that his first visit to Israel had been amazing.

“I haven’t felt connected to Judaism that much since my Bar Mitzvah. This trip with Birthright Israel: Mayanot has made me appreciate my Jewish heritage so much more. I know this experience will continue to inspire me in the future.”

To view the live stream of the keynote address, click here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Judaism Isn't Just My Religion It's My History

What Impact Mayanot Israel Had On Me
By: Heather Franzman, Birthright Israel: Mayanot Participant

Growing up I was raised in a household where religion didn’t hold much importance. Both of my parents are Jewish but felt that because they were made to follow a religion growing up, they didn’t want to make their children do the same. Attending public school never shaped any religious beliefs and I was never surrounded by many Jewish people.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve felt as though there should be a place for religion in my life. I knew I wanted to go to Israel and become absorbed in Jewish culture and Birthright Israel allowed me to do so.

Mayanot Israel not only allowed me to see the beautiful country of Israel but to learn about the history of Judaism and immerse myself in the culture. Through each experience during the trip, from seeing the beauty of Tzfat, touring Masada, riding camels in the desert, to Shabbot at the Western Wall, Mayanot not only showed me how Judaism isn’t just my religion, it’s my history.

Mayanot allowed me to see a place I wouldn’t normally have gone to visit, and as a result, has showed me that I want to be come more involved in Jewish life. In addition to becoming involved in the Chabad club of FIT (the Fashion Institute of Technology), I hope to learn Hebrew in the future and go back to Israel very soon.

Not only have I learned more about my religion, but the trip introduced me to new people that are now very good friends. Birthright Israel: Mayanot reintroduced me to the religion I was meant to observe and has given me great friends that will last a lifetime. I strongly urge everyone interested in Birthright Israel to go with Mayanot because they gave us the best experience possible.

Via: Chabad at FIT

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Mayanot Jerusalem Jubilee

The Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies 

cordially invites you to join us in celebrating 



Keynote address from Deputy Minister  

Dr. Michael B. Oren 


Sunday, June 18th 2017 

7:00 - 10:00pm 

The Menachem Begin Center, Jerusalem 

(6 Sh.A. Nakhon Street)


Martin & Melanie Glatt 

David & Eda Schottenstein 

Benjamin & Susan Shapell 

Nicky Newfield 


Join us as we celebrate together!

To purchase tickets, click here.

Reception beginning at 7:00 PM 
Ceremony Beginning at 7:30 PM 
Special keynote address by Deputy Minister, 
Dr. Michael B. Oren 

"The 6 Day War & Its Relevance For Us Today"

For any questions or to become an event sponsor, 
please email: 

To Purchase Tickets 

Dr. Michael Oren's books will be available for purchase. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Mayanot Shul Shavuot Program

The Mayanot Shul is hosting all night Learning!
A wonderful community atmosphere, with light refreshments served. 
Commemorating the 50th Reunion of Jerusalem 

Tuesday May 30th, 2017
28 Narkis Street, Nachlaot Jerusalem
נרקיס 28, נחלאות ירושלים, בית כנסת מעיינות

(Each Class is 45 Minutes)

Workplace Halacha
Rabbi Ari Wasserman
12:00 Midnight

Jerusalem: From Conception To Resurrection
Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Poupko 
1:00 AM 

Jerusalem: Through The Prism Of Chassidut 
Rabbi Shlomo Gestetner
2:00 AM 

ליקוטי מהר''ן 
רבי אופיר שבח 
12:00 - 2:00 AM

"Making The Torah Real In My Life Time"
Rabbi Ami Weisz
Dr. Yoni Stanleigh
2:30 - 4:00 AM

NOTE: Shachrit at Mayanot begins at 9:15 AM 
For inquiries or to sponsor, please contact: 

To join the Mayanot Shul Facebook Page and receive updates, click here.


Shavuot Kids Program at the Mayanot Shul
Shavuot Day: 
Wednesday May 31st 2017 
In the Main Shul Courtyard
10:30 - 11:45 AM

Program Includes:
Hear the Aseret Hadibrot (Taking place at 10:40 AM sharp in the Main Shul)
Refreshments and Prizes
Games and Activities
Story Time 

Sponsored In Memory Of:
Alta Shula Bat Yosef Yitzchak & Hinda Swerdlov 

We look forward to celebrating with you!

For any questions please email:
Chag Shavuot Sameach!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Kindness Coming Round Full Circle

It was 1987 and six young Yeshivah students, who were Shluchim at Ohr Elchonon in Los Angeles, decided, one day, to skip the Yeshiva lunch and dine at the Milky Way Restaurant on Pico Boulevard. 

The proprietor of the restaurant was impressed with the students, and in her signature generous spirit offered some special dishes ‘on the house’. However, she did more than just offer complementary delicacies to  the Yeshiva students;  she listened to them, discussed life with them and in general made these out-of-town young students totally welcome in her restaurant, as if it was her own home. What they soon learnt about Leah Adler, the proprietor of The Milky Way Restaurant, was that she was an extraordinarily kind, wise, and giving person.

Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, executive director of the Maynot Institute of Jewish Studies, was one of those six shluchim. “Leah, or Lee Lee as she was known, cared personally for her customers she listened to their stories, to their problems and rejoiced in their joy”, he shared.  When he heard the sad news of her passing he knew that Mayanot should honor this unique person.
Born in Cincinnati, Leah developed a love of music, learning Piano at age five. She studied at the Music Conservatory and graduated from the University of Cincinnati. She opened her own art gallery in Scottsdale and later her restaurant in Los Angeles. In 1945 she married Arnold Meyer Spielberg, and they had four children — Steven, Anne, Sue and Nancy. She is survived by her children, her eleven grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

On Thursday, March 23rd, 2017, together with Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon, the founder of Kosher Supervision of America (KSA) in Los Angeles, a special Shloshim commemoration took place in loving memory of Leah ‘Lee Lee’ Adler at both the Mayanot Men’s and Women’s campuses. The Mayanot women’s program studied Mishnayos, in merit of Lee Lee. At the Men’s Program, the students all participated in a Siyum masechta and special fabrengen with several guest speakers who all knew the nifteres.

Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon, spoke at both events. As the Rav haMachshir of the restaurant, he knew Leah Adler very well and described her unique qualities and emphasized how we can all learn from her kindness, open heartedness and listening ear. “She was a gem of a human being” he said. “She had an incredible personality and truly made an impact on you, even if you only spent a short time with her.  Her character, her warmth of spirit, and her ma’asim tovim were remarkable”.

Moshe Stein shared the first time he and Leah both met the Lubavitcher Rebbe at the Machane Israel Fund talk in 1990, and how he spoke to Leah right after she met with the Rebbe in New York. “It was absolutely phenomenal”, he said. “Lee was really inspired by her meeting with the Rebbe, she was beaming like a ray of light, shining… I am so grateful for that memory”.

When Leah and Bernie Adler first desired to provide fine kosher dining in Los Angeles, they approached Rabbi Lisbon and told him they would only embark on this project, which at the time was uncharted waters, if they would receive a letter of blessing from the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Rebbe’s letter is prominently displayed in the restaurant, to this day.

Faigy Zilberstein, an old friend of Lee Lee, was kind enough to come to Mayanot and share her memories with the students at the Women’s Program, which was greatly appreciated by all.

This special Shloshim event was coordinated with the help of Leah’s son-in-law and daughter, Shimon and Nancy Katz. The Mayanot family sends their condolences to Leah’s children and their spouses and their families; Steven Spielberg & Kate Capshaw, Shimon & Nancy Katz, Danny & Anne Opatoshu, and Jerry & Susan Pasternak, May they all be comforted with the mourners of Israel.

This summer Mayanot will be hosting over 4,000 Birthright Israel participants, and is dedicating the volunteer activities in Leah’s merit, the activities which so greatly reflect her life, l’zchus - Leah Faigel Bat Shraga Feivel. May her nesahmah have an aliyah and may her memory be a blessing and an inspiration for all of us!

Watch the video of the event, here.
For more information about Mayanot and its many learning programs please visit: 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Women’s Israel Reunion on Yom Yerushalayim

The Mayanot Israel Alumni Women's Network gathered on Tuesday May 23rd, for their second meeting. Graciously, Mrs. Rivka Marga Gestetner, the Mayanot Women's Program educational director, offered her home for the gathering. 

It was fitting that the women's reunion occurred the evening of Yom Yerushalayim, celebrating the anniversary of 50 years of the reunification. The city was celebrating a reunion and so were the Mayanot women! It was a wonderful atmosphere, as all of the women who gathered, have made Aliyah themselves, building a life here, in Jerusalem. 

The group spanned several years of Mayanot alumni. Some students present had attended the very first year of the program, while others represented the most recent graduating class. It was wonderful catching up, and being able to hear what everyone is doing in their life, building families, careers and doing it in Israel. 
The new Scholar in residence, Mrs. Freidy Yanover shared Torah relating to Shavuot and was lucky enough to meet all of the Alumni in attendance. 

Mrs. Yanover eloquently spoke about receiving the Torah on Shavuot, the Jewish people's marriage to G-d, and our level of choice at Sinai & in our everyday lives. She shared how, "the Sinai experience is a feminine one, in that it’s fluid and not static. We may feel far at times, or even down, but we must always remember our relationship can never be ruptured, it can always be repaired."

Rivka Marga, whose hospitality is unparalleled, prepared a beautiful table including: cheesecake, homemade jam, granola, yogurt and wonderful platters of Israeli fruit. She fabrengened with the women regarding gratitude, sharing, "It's amazing that G-d gave us a neshamah (soul) but it's even more amazing that he let us know that we have a neshamah (soul)." 

Mayanot thanks all the women that came out and participated in this wonderful evening of sharing, fabrenging and learning, and hope that this beautiful tradition of gathering to learn, and reconnecting only continues! 

To find out more about hosting Mayanot alumni events in your city, please contact: 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Personal Account of S'firat Ha'Omer

Sharing what a Mayanot Women's Program student has learnt about this period of time, between Passover and Shavuot, and how it can impact our lives in a practical way. 

Written by: Lauren Buckman

We are currently in the period of S'firat Ha'Omer, the Counting of the Omer. The 49 day count starts on the second day of Passover and ends on Shavuot, the holiday celebrating the giving of the Torah. Back in Temple times, the seven weeks were counted from the day the barley offering was brought to the day the wheat offering was given on Shavuot. These 49 days also correspond to the seven expressions of our seven characteristics, which we work to strengthen in order to prepare ourselves to receive the Torah on the holiday of Shavuot. 

Why? When we were slaves in Egypt we sank to the 49th level of spirituality (the 50th level being the lowest level of which there is no return). Let’s just say we were not people to be proud of... G-d gave us ten miracles (the Ten Plagues), we saw them, and then we went on our merry ways. We did not internalize what was happening around us and were not grateful to G-d for what he was doing for our people. 

Alas, we were about to reach the lowest level when G-d freed us from Egypt. We left Egypt on the morning following the Seder (the first Passover Seder in history) and seven days later we crossed the Reed Sea. 
We were out. We were free people. Gone were the days of slavery in Egypt. 

Why did G-d really save us from the hands of Pharaoh and the Egyptians? 
It wasn’t just to be free physically, perpetually wandering the desert, but to be free Jews. We left slavery specifically to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai and practice the faith of our people. And this is what the Jewish people have been trying to do ever since. Not only to be Jews, but to be practicing, thriving, progressive Jews. 

Now, during the counting, we are on a journey to take full advantage of the miracles of Pesach and each of the miracles we experience every day: waking up in the morning, every breath we take, and every opportunity we get to do good in this world. 

The circumstances of today would be unimaginable to our ancestors. For thousands of years, Jews have faced persecution in order to practice our religion. We were exiled from our land and only until very recently do we have our own state (as of 69 years ago). Now we have a place to call home which is very accessible, we have religious freedom in the countries where we live, we have the unimaginable. I cannot even begin to tell you how fortunate I feel to be living in Eretz Yisrael, with the freedom to study Torah and do Mitzvot. 

I look forward to these final weeks, soaking up as much of Israel and Torah as I can, to ultimately bring this light home and around the world.