Monday, June 24, 2019

Kyle Seidel (Woodmere) and Avi Roth (New Rochelle) in the Gush beit midrash. (Credit: Yeshivat Har Etzion)

Avi Roth is studying at Yeshivat Har Etzion (“The Gush”) in Alon Shevut. He grew up in New Rochelle, attended SAR for elementary school and TABC for high school. His family davens at the Young Israel of New Rochelle.

His next stop? Yeshiva University.

Why did you choose to study at “The Gush?”

After speaking with my family, friends, rabbis and teachers from my high school, I decided that this yeshiva would be the place that would help me the most, in terms of its rigorous schedule, intense level of Torah learning and overall opportunities for refining character traits and becoming a ben Torah. I look up to my rebbeim and peers that have attended this institution and wanted to follow in their footsteps. After considering everything, I decided that “The Gush” would be the place where I could best learn Torah and grow as a person.

What kind of goals do you have for the year?

I had many goals going into the year, some of which were improving my ability to properly analyze a topic in the Gemara, learning to formulate my own ideas in a concise fashion and gaining in my knowledge of everyday halacha. Since I came here, I have realized the importance of making time for other areas, such as learning mussar.

What have been some highlights of your year so far?

One of the most exciting moments in yeshiva was getting to know my fellow talmidim over the first Shabbat that we spent together. While I knew several of them from my high school and neighborhood, I was really looking forward to meeting people from all over the United States, Canada and Europe.

One of the most inspiring moments of the year so far was the tiyul we had around the second week of yeshiva, when we traveled around Gush Etzion learning about the history of the area and, more specifically, the yeshiva. The tiyul gave my studying another purpose, to make the sacrifices that many people have made to allow us to learn here count. The history I learned about my yeshiva on that trip made me feel like I was part of something bigger than myself and my personal growth, namely part of the yeshiva itself.

What kind of challenges have you faced coming to Israel?

The biggest difficulty in being away for the year has been finding time to reflect on my experience, and making changes in my daily plans. While I am very happy to have a schedule filled with learning Torah all day, I have not been able to find time to step back and decide in which areas I need more work and where I need to focus more.

How has your year been different than your expectations?

Before I came to “The Gush,” I anticipated having a hard time adjusting to yeshiva living, such as learning all day and not going back to America to be with my family and community. However, going to Morasha kollel in the summer immensely helped with the transition process, as it buffered the transition from being in high school where many subjects are learned in a short time frame, to sitting and learning all day for long periods of time, and from coming home every night to relax and refocus, to living in a dorm with friends.

Where is your favorite place to go for weekends / Shabbat so far?

So far, my favorite place to be for Shabbat has actually been in yeshiva, where I can be in the facilities with which I am familiar in a more relaxed setting, just be with friends and go over my learning from the previous weeks.

Who is a teacher at “The Gush” who you connect to especially well?

All of the rebbeim in “The Gush” are incredibly knowledgeable and friendly. I feel comfortable asking them any questions of halacha and Jewish thought, and about how I am doing in yeshiva overall.

Which is one of your favorite classes at “The Gush?”

One of my favorite classes is Rabbi Leibtag’s Tanach classes. His teaching  is very different from my previous exposures to it, and my appreciation for Tanach has been growing further because of his classes.

I also enjoy Rabbi Kaye’s weekly Gemara shiur in night seder, where he goes into detail on a topic that everyone has seen, so far, that week when learning the yeshiva’s masechta, Gittin, with their night seder chavruta.

What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?

Over the year, I am looking forward to seeing the land of Israel.. I have enjoyed every tiyul I have gone on so far, as on each one of them, I get to see even more of Eretz Yisrael. This was one of the reasons I specifically came to Israel: to learn to appreciate fully the Jewish homeland.

By JLBWC Staff

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