Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Mayanot Mazal Tov's:

Mazal Tov to the entire Mayanot Family!
May this New Year bring us all much simcha and nachas

Mushkie and Shalom Aber had twin girls
Golda and Shimon Yisroel Avraham had a baby girl
Margalit and Jacob Bleakley had a baby girl
Johanna and Moshe Chazzan had a baby boy
Chana Miriam and Elon Golub had a baby girl 
Nechama Miriam and Alex Ioffee had a baby boy
Sharon and Ayden Jacob had a baby boy 
Bar BenAvi and Avi Josef had a baby girl 
Rachel and Elliot Levine had a baby girl
Aviva and Josh Linton had a baby girl
Sara and Ariel Novick had a baby boy
Devorah and Yitzy Rothman had a baby girl
Natalie and Isaac Schapiro had a baby boy
Noami and Tuvya Shleifer had a baby boy
Sara and Yitzchok Shulkin had a baby girl
Mieke Rivka and David Simcha Sidorsky had a baby boy
Maly and Ilan Smolarsky had a baby boy 
Lauren and David Ussishkin had a baby girl
Rivka and Yosef Wolf had a baby boy
Aura and Adam Zartz had a baby girl

Chaya Lopez and Yehoshua Eitan Ruben
Ayelet Rachel Mehaber Shimron and Berel Yosef Polonsky 
Peshy Greenberg and Nosson Zand 
Shira Le Roux and Eitan Press 
Chana Harrison and Yaakov Kaplan
Aliza Robin and Shmuel Gomes
Chanie Yachad and Menachem Hecht
Kayla Wold and Daniel Tamir
Becca Zayon and Koby Rehman
Nicole Litvin and David Fisher


Our building committee chair, Ryan Shapiro and his wife Dinie, 
on the Bar Mitzvah of their son Dovie.

Paul and Nancy Hamburger on the birth of their grandson
Avraham Gedaliah (Evan Robert).

Our chazzan Barak Hullman and his wife Noga, 
on the Bar Mitzvah of their son Natan Chaim.

Our executive office administrative assistant, 
 Sarah Kramer-Rosen, on the birth of her first baby boy

Baby Avraham Gedaliah Hamburger

Mayanot alumnus Ronnie Sternberg (Sydney, Australia) 
and Schirley Msika (Paris, France)

Mayanot alumni Tal Lopez and Paultiel Ratzenberg 

Mayant Alumnus, Adam Zartz, and baby Allegra Molly

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Alumni Spotlight: An interview with Emily Shaaya

"If you know Alef , teach Alef"

Tell us about your background:
I attended the University of CA, Irvine where I double-majored and received a B.A. in Spanish and Social Ecology. Thereafter, in 2012 I received my Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. I am a licensed attorney in Los Angeles specializing in criminal defense. From October 2014- July 2018, I served as a Deputy Public Defender for Los Angeles County, representing those in L.A's indigent community facing criminal charges.

How did you end up at Mayanot:
I attended Mayanot during the Summer session of 2018. While I was initially only supposed to drop in on classes for a few days, I loved the program and the people so much, that those few days turned into the entire five week summer program.

What do you feel you gained on the program:
Mayanot has strengthened my foundation of Jewish knowledge and increased my desire to continue to learn and grow and share the knowledge I've received.

After completing an undergraduate and graduate degree, as well as working for several years, in so many ways my time at Mayanot just tops everything. You're learning about life, you're learning about your soul, you're meeting incredible people, and that is worth the world. What a gift to receive guidance and direction before choosing a path. I am giving my personal guarantee that you will be so happy about your decision to take the time as an act of self-love.

What will you take away with you:
The education I received at Mayanot has provided me with life perspective and reinforced my ability to prioritize the things that are important to me. I saw firsthand what it means to teach Judaism with complete love. I witnessed true acts of chesed (kindness) both in and outside the classroom. 

My experience at Mayanot this summer gave me the courage to begin to bring back knowledge of what I've learned to my community in Los Angeles. I am planning to start teaching a class 1-2x a month starting next week. I hope I am blessed with the opportunity to return to Mayanot to continue my learning. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

5 Reasons to Spend a Semester in Yeshiva

Via: Chabad.org
Written By: Tzvi Freedan

Dear Rabbi,
I’m an undergrad at a private college, doing really well and working hard to get into graduate school. I’m also very active with Chabad on campus. My Chabad rabbi has been bugging me to take off one semester to study in a yeshiva “some time before graduate school.” It’s still not clear to me what yeshiva is all about, and definitely not clear why I should take off in the middle of my studies to go there.
—A Student

Dear Student,

Before there were universities, there were yeshivas. There were people who sat around in yeshivas the whole year, discussing and studying and discussing some more. And then there were people who worked the farm or traveled afar to sell their merchandise, and then turned up at the yeshiva whenever they had a chance, to join in the study and discussion. Jews were always a literate society, and every Jew was expected to be involved somehow in the learning going on in the community.

Traditionally, most of the study in yeshiva was in pairs—two companions poring over a text together, debating its details to achieve clarity and full knowledge. A lecture is generally full of lively give-and-take between students and teacher.Traditional Jewish learning is all about asking good questions, as well as collaborating with others to come up with solutions.

That’s why a yeshiva, unlike a college library, is a rather noisy place. In many ways, the methodology of study in yeshiva is way ahead of that applied in most educational institutions.

Today, there are all sorts of yeshivas. Some specialize exclusively in Talmud. Others diversify, studying practical Jewish lawhistory, ethics, Kabbalah and chassidic thought, etc. There are yeshivas dedicated to young men and women such as yourself, who just want to take off a semester to enrich their Jewish souls, and then get back home and finish their degree.

Chabad has a number of such yeshivas, and that’s the general thrust in these places—to give students a strong background, skills to build upon and the inspiration they need for a lifetime—and then get them back on track into their careers. Only that now, the bright lights of their Jewish soul are shining.

Now that I hope I’ve given you some vague idea of what a yeshiva is, let me provide you with 5 reasons why you should attend:

1.    It's an Investment
This could be the biggest investment you’ll ever make.
You’re bright enough to know that your future’s not made of money alone. The biggest investment you’ll ever make in your life is the person you’ll marry. Out of marriage comes a home, a family, eternity. You need to build a portfolio that can get you a great spouse and build a beautiful family. Add those yeshiva months to your portfolio, and you’ve moved up several notches on the Jewish marriage market.

2.    You'll Gain Skills
You can pick up the basic skills for a lifetime.
One semester isn’t enough time to learn one-zillionth of what you want to know, but it’s long enough to get you some basic skills so you can continue back home.

You’ll learn what books contain what, how to open a Talmud and get an idea of what’s flying in there, what sort of problems require an expert rabbi to solve, and how to dazzle your guests with some fascinating words of Torah at your Shabbat table. You’ll have some of the classic answers to fundamental questions under your belt, and you’ll know where to look for more.

Perhaps even more important: You’ll have the tools, the learning and perhaps even the wisdom to help you get through those bumps and crashes so unavoidable in life.

3.    You Plan to Start a Family
Get respect from your kids.
You may not have even started thinking about it, but you likely will want to send your kids to a school where they’ll learn Torah part of the day. When they have a question or need help with homework, guess who they’re going to ask? And if they see their parents enjoy learning Torah, guess how that will influence their attitude to school?

4.    It's Your Wealth
Cash in on your inheritance.
Jews have been bantering about ideas in yeshivas for thousands of years. And Jews are bright people.

Over these millennia of study, debate, creativity and more debate, we’ve built a ginormous structure, a palace of wisdom, ideas, practical guidance and approaches to knowledge. It’s a magnificent blend of harmonies, an intricate web of wisdom, an edifice of incomparable beauty—and the entire estate is yours, just waiting for you to come and pick up the keys.

Without ever entering a yeshiva, you could still enter your estate. You might make it into the front, and even explore around a little. But if you want to feel at home in your rightful home, you need that immersive yeshiva experience.

5.    You'll Get Inspiration:
Get the blast of a lifetime.
Imagine yourself in an environment where everyone around you is aflame with the fire of Torah. Torah is alive. You can dissect an animal, a philosopher, a poem or a book, an atomic particle or a mathematical equation—and all have one thing in common: when dissected, they are dead.

No one comes out of a philosophy class singing and dancing. But they do when they dissect Torah. Because Torah is alive—every cell of it, no matter how you cut it.

Imagine Shabbat in an environment where Torah is the driving force of life. You can’t. You have to be there. But years down the road, when you’re desperate for that inspiration to keep you going, you’ll close your eyes and see yourself back there again. From that experience you’ll draw eternal life.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Worthwhile Way To Spend Your Time?

It is obvious that today’s world is fast moving. Every piece of information is available in our pockets, people can talk face-to-face with their friends on the other side of the world, and kids hover around on electric gadgets.  We are living in a 1950’s science fiction novella.  

This seeps into our subconscious, and many people find themselves moving from experience to experience, while still finding it difficult to take in the moment.  With all of our advancement, and the benefits that comes along with it, we also suffer the pitfalls of not being fully attached to our reality.  

This issue, however, is something that can be worked on, believe it or not, by dedicating time towards learning in Yeshivah! A person can begin to develop a sensitivity towards how we spend our time, while learning Torah.  

Time is a space in which we live our lives, and it is divided up into moments; and, it is within these moments that life is experienced.  It is easily missed, but when it is experienced you know that you have been a part of it.  The instances that make up the definitive events of our lives often take place in the most subtle and mundane experiences.  Simply commonalities, such as the way two friends greet each other with a side-ways handshake.  Picking up on these subtleties and enjoying them requires that we be attentive to our present surroundings.  

Investing time in authentically learning about one's heritage, identity and the benefits of dedicating time to discuss ones connection to Judaism, is difficult to describe in words, or replicate in any other setting. The positive impact of dedicating time and 'taking time out' to learn can allow us to live in a more conscious way.

The delusion of the world passing us by can be terrifying.  Learning Torah in a full time manner places a person at odds with the expectations that are placed on us in the outside world.  It is, in a true sense, a stepping out of the paradigm that is set for us by the world and our society.  In doing so, it becomes possible to really live in the moment.  

For example, a person is inevitably going to be faced with challenges or discomfort in their life.  It is possible to deal with this in one of two ways; we can run away from the discomfort into some sort of distraction or we can face the discomfort head on.  By choosing the latter, we are given a space to grow.  

The Yeshiva environment creates a space where a person can learn how to dive into the uneasiness and mine out the pieces of gold that are hidden beneath it. In other words, gaining practical tools in how to deal with life's challenges. What an unbelievably worthwhile way to spend ones time, gaining skills that will help one succeed in every aspect of life. Who wouldn't be interested in such a meaningful en-devour? Actually taking time out, to be able to deal with ones time and those special moments that are the sum total of our lives. 

Written by: current men's learning program student, Ben Shannon


Ben has been studying at the Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem for the past two years, gaining all that he can from the amazing teachers and mentors. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Partnering With Amazing Leaders

We are so honored to work with such incredible Rabbi's 
and educators, who make such a positive impact. 

Rabbi Chaim Lipskier (kneeling, bottom left) 
with the group of students from the May Birthright Israel: Mayanot trip.

Rabbi Chaim Lipskier, co-director of Chabad at the University of Central Florida, returned home tired but happy after leading his 18th Birthright Israel trip. More than 700 students have joined Rabbi Lipskier on the Birthright Israel: Mayanot tours over the last nine years, while another 600 have gone on trips organized by Chabad of UCF.

The 10-day trip travels all around the Holy Land, seeing ancient and modern sites, taking in Israel's history, culture, politics and stunning natural beauty. The intensive tour gives the participants a deep insight into their Jewish identity and its connection to the Jewish homeland.

Rabbi Lipskier joined the trips to act as a spiritual leader, while expert Israeli tour guides taught the students about the history and meaning of the sites they visited, from museums to beaches, and deserts to archaeological digs. The groups also spend a meaningful and restful Shabbat in Jerusalem.

"My experience as a participant on Mayanot Birthright was one of the most special experiences I've ever had as a young Jewish woman." said Sadie Weintraub, who went on Birthright with Rabbi Lipskier in May. "Being able to spend Shabbat at the Kotel added not only the connection to my Judaism, but also to the land of Israel."

Rabbi Lipskier encourages students to take part in the transformative Birthright Israel trip, and many of the participants are inspired to become active in Jewish life on campus on their return.

"The Mayanot trips are always wonderful experiences and it's great to get to know the students so well and see them learn and grow," said Rabbi Lipskier, "But the most important thing is the lasting impact that it has on so many participants, giving them an inspirational grounding on which they can build a lifelong commitment to their Jewish Heritage."

Mayanot works in partnership with more than 250 Chabad on Campus centers around the world to provide Birthright Israel trips.

Rabbi Lipskier is already looking forward to his 19th trip, planned to take place this winter.

To find out more about Mayanot's many trip options, click here.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Your Glowing Reviews

We reached out to our amazing Facebook community of students and alumni and requested our followers share their experiences at Mayanot with us. Here are a few of the glowing reviews we received. (Yes we are shamelessly self promoting, but we knew our readership would appreciate these, almost as much as we do!!!)

Thank you to everyone that responded and shared their experiences with us!
To view all 50 recommendations or write a review yourself, click here.

Mayanot Women's Program is not a one-time experience, but a place that continues to provide warmth, support, and family for the rest of your life. I came to Mayanot at two different times in my life, and I was amazed to find that it completely adapted and was able to fill the role that I needed it to during those different times. Mayanot allows for a lot of independence and flexibility in Jewish studies, and therefore attracts the most incredible, dedicated, curious girls to the program. 

The staff and teachers are supportive, unique, and approachable (and often funny!), and they're so talented at what they do - not just teaching, but also guiding young women who come from such different backgrounds and are heading down different paths, but all are exploring their Jewish roots. Mayanot continues to be a place that I go back to every chance I get, whether to sit in on a class, visit a friend or teacher, or pop in for one of the social events. More than any one thing, it's the general spirit of Ahavat Yisrael, love of your fellow Jew, that makes Mayanot such a welcoming, positive, and uplifting organization.
-Meital Boim 
It's all about the people at Mayanot. The director of education, Rivka Marga, treats other with an incomparable love and warmth. She is the voice of reason to thousands of alumni and students who continue to turn to her for advise long after we've left the Mayanot doors. 

Freidy Yanover, the Dean of Student Affairs, came to the scene with expertise in chassidus and teaching women in a deeper and more thoughtful way than most of us have experienced before. She pays attention to every student in the class and is able to teach a class to students of various levels while making everyone feel comfortable yet challenged. 

Mayanot hires only the creme of the crop in terms of shluchos (counselors), and they really make the program what it is. The shluchos work day and night to enhance the student's learning experience, making nightly activities, farbrengens, bonding sessions, seder niggunim, and more. 

And of course, the students, who come from every single type of background imaginable, from being the only Jew in a tiny rural town in Georgia to being a convert from a South American country to growing up Modern Orthodox in LA to growing up Chabad in Crown Heights. Learning from and with the other students is a totally unique and special Mayanot experience. 

Mayanot is an incredible oasis of love and acceptance and challenging, honest Jewish learning in Jerusalem.

-Bracha M. 

Mayanot was the most meaningful experience of my entire life! The faculty and staff members are warm, inviting, and SUPPORTIVE!!
-Sophia B. 

Mayanot is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I have never seen a program as dedicated and caring for theirs students. Every part of the program is geared towards the students so that they will have the most meaningful time possible.

Mayanot gives the students an authentic Jewish experience, while respecting the level of observance of every person and not pushing anything on them. Mayanot is a life changing experience and one of the most incredible non-profits out there!
-Faigy D. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Experiencing the Holiday of Shavuot

The Repairing Process, A Metaphor For Shavuot: 

Imagine that you have just inherited a house.  The side panels are beaten up from the wind.  Walking into the back yard, it becomes pretty clear that some of the windows are going to need to be replaced.  When you step up the front steps onto the deck, one of the steps breaks under your foot.  Inside, the couches in the living room are worn out and barely staying together.  In the dusty kitchen, you notice that the antique oven is rusted over and the table is barely standing on its three and a half legs.  Topping it all off, there is a hole in the ceiling of the upstairs bedroom, which has resulted in the room becoming acquainted with all four of the seasons.  With all the work that needs to be done, maybe it would have been better not to have been given the house at all.  
Without the proper funds, there is not a chance that the house will be in livable condition.  Out of nowhere you get a call from your Dad and he tells you that he is willing to back the project, on the condition that you do the work.  Over the next few days you collect the supplies and commence the project.  Every day you show up, and, little by little, what seemed at first to be a dilapidated mess, begins to look like a home.  Some days a friend comes by to help, other days it is just you.  Either way, each day there is clear progress.  Whenever you feel like giving up you are able to look back at what the house looked like and how far it has come.

The last task is to get the electricity running; however this is a costly bit, so you call your Dad again.  He has seen all the progress that you made and sends an electrician by to get everything running.  Before turning on the lights for the first time you realize that there would be no better way of experiencing this moment than with your closest friends.  At nightfall you and your companions flip on the switch for the first time.  All of the panels are freshly painted and the windows are crystal clear.  Instead of moldy chairs, there are couches.  A smell of freshly baked Challah floats out of the kitchen and the fixed table is covered with an assortment of cheese cake.  The ceiling has been fixed upstairs and the house is comfortably inhabitable.  Moreover, it is a place that you are able to have guests. 

Making It Practical, Shavuot Insights:

After the Jewish people had suffered years of forced labor coming out of Egypt, after Pesach (Passover) was a bit like inheriting a beat-up house.   We have inherited our relationship with Hashem (G-d) from our forefathers; Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov.  This profound unity with Hashem has to be revealed from underneath the hardship and trauma of slavery.  During the Counting of the Omer (the time in between Passover and Shavuot) is when we begin this process of repair. This is each individual’s process of cleansing and refining his or her emotional faculties. This procedure enables a person to be a proper vessel to receive the Torah.

Matan Torah (receiving the Torah) is the revelation from Hashem.  It is only once we have prepared ourselves and made ourselves into vessels which are fit to receive this G-dly expression, that we actually do.  By setting each of our individual houses in order, we receive this G-dly revelation.  We are then able to go forth and truly affect change in the world by revealing that truly we are all part of a single Home.  

While at Mayanot, I have felt a part of a single home and am very grateful for the experience of being here for the second time, for Shavuot, after learning at Mayanot for the last two years. I am very familiar with the process of repairing and rebuilding through receiving Torah, in my own life,  and I hope we are all able to receive the Torah together this year. 

Written by: Benjamin Shannon, Current Mayanot Men's Program Student