Mr. Avi Epstein
Student Activities Coordinator
With the exponential growth of our yeshiva, a Student Activities professional was brought on board to plan and facilitate an array of trips, shabbatons, recreational opportunities, sports and overall ruach among and for Heichal talmidim.
A native of Monsey, NY, Mr. Avi Epstein has already made a positive impact on the level and variety of activities that enhance the Heichal experience for everyone. A talmid of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim for six years, Mr. Epstein was recruited to the Mesivta of Waterbury, Connecticut, where he served as a mentor and role model for hundreds of boys. There, he created successful in-school programs, curricula and extra-curricular activities, which empowered students to increase their self-esteem and achieve success in and out of the classroom.
“If you believe in someone,” Mr. Epstein said recently, “they will produce no matter what. Once they begin to maximize their potential, it’s amazing what they will develop into. It’s incredible to see the results.”
In addition to his responsibilities at Heichal HaTorah, Mr. Epstein currently teaches in the middle school of RYNJ, where he is making an outstanding impact on students there as a very popular Rebbe and Assistant Program Director.
Outreach & Chesed
Whether davening, learning, laughing, singing, or dancing together, our Heichal talmidim love spending quality time with our friends from Yachad, who share our Yeshiva building. Chavrusah learning takes place between our respective talmidim, and we get together for special occasions and projects on a frequent basis.
Gemilus chasadim is one of the pillars of our faith and our students engage in a number of projects annually, both during yeshiva and on their own time. Among them: visiting with seniors at the nearby Care One, helping make minyanim there and bringing joy and gifts surrounding the various yomim tovim; volunteering for Nefesh B’Nefesh, to assist people as they prepare to make aliyah; packing clothing for lifts through Yad Leah to benefit our brethren in need in Israel; packing food boxes for Tomchei Shabbos and Masbia; sukkah building and snow removal for families in the local community; and helping with cleanups and rebuilding following natural disasters, such as the recent flooding in Houston, Texas.
Jewish Identity and Israel Programming
Heichal talmidim are exposed to a broad variety of Torah and Jewish personalities in an effort to impart a strong feeling of ahavas Yisrael and an appreciation for the beauty and breadth of our people. By understanding their place in our historical continuum, our talmidim feel a powerful sense of Jewish identity and direction that they will carry into their lives far beyond the walls of our yeshiva.
The Holocaust has undoubtedly left an indelible impression on our generation, and on Yom HaShoah we invite survivors to meet and speak with our talmidim about their very personal experiences.
On Yom HaAtzmaut, we recognize the miraculous establishment of the modern Jewish state and host IDF soldiers who discuss their various military missions, recognizing the Yad Hashem they experienced during their service.
On Yom Yerushalayim, we celebrate the reunification of our holy city with a gala celebration.
Shabbatons spent together offer special opportunities for bonding between talmidim and their friends and rebbeim, and are considered an integral part of the Heichal experience. Several times over the course of the year, we gather as a yeshiva in Monsey, Passaic, or Bergenfield for an “In-Shabbos.” The davening, meals, onegs, and sedarim during those weekends create an exciting, joyful and uplifting environment that is carried back to the yeshiva.
Additionally, twice a year, the entire yeshiva travels to a special location for a Shabbos of fun and inspiration. Whether in the mountains or in a giant mansion, the change of scenery and fresh air inspire our talmidim to build a more meaningful connection to Hashem. Highlights of our Shabbatonim include: lively singing and dancing at Kabbalas Shabbos, during our Leil
Shabbos Tisch, the three Shabbos seudos, and throughout our Melaveh Malkah; words of Torah and inspiration from the Rosh Yeshiva, rebbeim, and select talmidim; a gala Motsai Shabbos barbecue; picturesque hikes; and an array of competitive and recreational sports and tournaments.
All of our rebbeim live in the same communities as our talmidim, which allows for deeper connections and exposure to their own families. Rebbeim often invite talmidim over for Shabbos and Yom Tov meals.
Thursday Night Tisches
To help usher in the special elevated atmosphere of Shabbos, we host a Tisch every Thursday night. Anchored by divrei Torah and hisorerus by the inspirational Reb Moshe Tzvi Weinberg, the Tisches are enhanced by a delectable hot cholent, potato kugel and lots of singing.
Music, song and dance are potent conduits for the awakening of our spirits and souls as yidden. Our annual kumsitz with Reb Yosef Karduner and Purim chagigah with Eitan Katz afford our talmidim powerful opportunities to join together as they open their hearts, dance and sing to Hashem. Through heartfelt niggunim and leibedik dancing, our talmidim experience both an energizing boost and renewed commitment to their d’veykus and avodas Hashem. The exuberance displayed and achdus between our talmidim and rebbeim during these special events is inspiring to all.
In our mission to develop the whole student, we embark on a number of outings throughout the year, on both yeshiva and grade levels. These trips allow students and their rebbeim the opportunity to relax outside the structured yeshiva environment and help foster new friendships and camaraderie. This year, on the second day of yeshiva, we travelled to the Lehigh River for our annual opening-of-the-year rafting trip. As talmidim paddled down the river together, they got to know their new classmates and incoming freshmen and had fun being with their rebbeim in an entirely recreational setting. During the winter months, we head up to Hunter Mountain for our annual skiing and snowtubing trip. On Lag BaOmer, our talmidim play sports in Teaneck’s Votee Park. Heichal also rents out entire water and amusement parks for our talmidim to enjoy together.
We believe that physical activity is critical to the overall well-being of our young men. As such, exercise is scheduled for one hour every day, and our talmidim may take advantage of our regulation-size gym for a game of basketball or soccer, play ping pong in the student lounge, participate in weight and aerobic training in our fitness gym, and twice a week, swim in our gorgeous heated pool. These amenities are largely available to students after school, as well.
Our facility at 70 Sterling Place in Teaneck, NJ has been a longtime landmark and center for gathering for the local Jewish community. As such, we take our occupation of this space and the historical sentiment and responsibility that it brings very seriously. We host a plethora of community wide events throughout the year, with the participation of our talmidim and rebbeim, for example: a siyum HaShas and siyum Mishnayos; our Hei-Chol beis medrash program during bein haz’manim, in conjunction with Congregation Beth Abraham of Bergenfield; concerts; and our much anticipated Purim night mesibah, which is the largest of its kind in our area and is annually attended by hundreds, many of whom travel quite a distance to participate.