The Stamford Community was at a loss when Yeshiva Bais Binyamin decided to return to its homeground in Monsey. However, a silver lining appeared in the person of Rabbi Kivi Attar, a third-generation Stamfordite, who started The Stamford Community Torah Learning Center—TLC—in August 2016, in partnership with The Young Israel of Stamford. Now housed at YIS, 69 Oaklawn Avenue, TLC provides multiple learning opportunities for the Jewish population of Stamford and the surrounding areas. The timing was perfect. With the surging growth of the Orthodox Jewish community of Stamford, people welcomed the chance to learn in the newly created TLC.
Rabbi Kivi Attar attended the Bi-Cultural School in Stamford as a child, went to high school in Denver, learned at the Mir Yeshiva in Israel and received semicha from Ohr Sameach in Yerushalayim. After spending several years as the assistant rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina, Rabbi Attar wanted to move back to the East Coast to be closer to his family and happily returned to his roots in Stamford.
Rabbi Avraham Lieberman, Rabbi Attar’s grandfather, was the Judaic studies principal at the Bi-Cultural School in Stamford for many years. (The school is now called The Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy—BCHA.) As a child, Rabbi Attar would accompany his grandfather on Purim, delivering shalach manot to the rabbi’s friends all over town. “Those friends,” Rabbi Attar explained, “were the immigrants and elderly people living all over town. My grandfather would teach me a kiddush poem that I could recite for these friends of his, who loved hearing a little boy speaking their language.” Rabbi Attar continues this tradition, today, with his own children, who accompany him on Purim, visiting hospitals and apartment houses, seeking out those people who would not otherwise be the recipients of Purim gifts were it not for the visits of the Attar family.
“My grandfather wanted to bring authentic Jewish education to the community,” Rabbi Attar explained, “and that continues to be my mission, as well. I’m interested in reaching out to as many people as possible and providing multiple avenues for learning.” TLC offers one-on-one chevruta-style learning, classes for both women and men, special programs and interesting speakers. “I’m interested in reaching out to those with strong Hebrew backgrounds as well as to those with lesser backgrounds. I want to create a product that can fit everyone in town.” There are currently more than 50 people attending various programs, which are all held in the evenings.
Especially popular is the Saturday night parent-child learning program, now in its seventh week. Open to families with children from 6 years old to bar and bat mitzvah age kids, the program includes learning, pizza and dessert together along with the chance to win raffle prizes, and offers families the chance to learn together, socialize and have fun. Rabbi Attar shared with us that he brings Parsha sheets to the Saturday night program that were created by his grandfather. The program has attracted more than 30 kids and their parents. TLC has also sponsored themed Friday night family dinners such as the crowd-pleasing Moroccan Dinner.
By Yvette Finkelstein