Monday, Jun 10, 2024

A New Era of Aish Dos

 

For nearly three decades, Torah Umesorah’s Aish Dos program has been guiding new rebbeim as they ascended from beginners into dynamic stars of chinuch. This pivotal program that has shaped today’s chinuch world is entering a new era under a new banner of legendary visionary Reb Yaakov Rajchenbach zt”l.

It’s no secret how robust and stimulating a cheder classroom can be. Vibrant rebbeim impart eternal chinuch fundamentals to a new generation of children, lighting up timeless lessons with an unprecedented vibe of excitement and color to match the needs of contemporary kids. Standing behind this advancement is Aish Dos, a training program founded and run by gedolim and veteran mechanchim, which has been molding {star} rebbeim for the last quarter century. The vast majority of rebbeim in Lakewood today are Aish Dos graduates.

The goal of Aish Dos is to empower every rebbi to become a dynamic, caring, and engaging mechanech. By giving every child the best rebbi he can have, each child will be motivated and inspired to realize and become his full potential.

Aish Dos has achieved a success that is nothing short of remarkable. A look at today’s bastions of Chinuch in the tri-state area and beyond reveals classrooms led by a new caliber of chinuch professionals, each with boundless creativity and infinite love. Years of mentoring, guidance, and networking by Aish Dos on its alumni have made an indelible impact on the chinuch institutions of today, with a remarkable impact on the future generations of talmidim.

A Mission of the Gedolim

Aish Dos was initially founded by Rav Shraga Feivel Mendelovitz zt”l, and was reincarnated in 1995 at the behest of Rav Elya Svei zt”l. Rav Elya recognized that many choshuve yungerleit wanted to join the ranks of chinuch and earn the coveted title – being a melamed Torah l’amo Yisrael, yet, they lacked the crucial skills needed to excel at this lofty mission. He approached the talented and erudite mechanech, Rabbi Dovid Bernstein, and asked him to lead the program. Rabbi Bernstein agreed and eagerly put his heart and soul into Aish Dos, turning it into the incredible success it is today. With tremendous siyata Dishmaya, Aish Dos has, to date, trained over 1,400 yungerleit, with over 980 currently teaching!

While every yungerman has gone through the yeshiva system and spent years in Kollel acquiring a wealth of yediyos haTorah, he still may not have the skills to give over the ikrei emunah, a pasuk in chumash, a mishnah or a gemara, in a way a child can understand it and internalize it. The Aish Dos program imparts those skills into the future rebbeim of Klal Yisroel, allowing bnei Torah to tap into their lifelong wellspring of Torah learning and to pass it on to the next generation.

Launching Stars of Chinuch

Aish Dos is much more than a course. It guides the young man, coming straight out of bais medrash, into the sea of chinuch, imbuing in him a broad range of skills he needs to become a master in the field.

Yungerleit interested in joining the Aish Dos program go through an interview and intake process, determining if he is suitable for chinuch. Aish Dos carefully chooses the cream of the crop, those with the potential to grasp these skills and fly with them.

Aish Dos is an informative and enjoyable course that gives yungerleit the tools to be successful rebbeim. The courses weave together the numerous aspects of classroom learning to give a broad picture of many important teaching topics. Presenters include prominent roshei yeshiva, who give hadracha and hashkafa, and master rebbeim and menahalim. Classes are geared to rebbeim of any grade level and cover topics about the chashivus of teaching, the mahus of a rebbi, and how to inspire talmidim to be the best they can be. Some classes are geared to specific grade levels on methods to teach chumash, mishnayos, and gemara. The yungerleit learn how to set goals, plan lessons, how to capture the boys’ attention, motivating and actively involving every single talmid, making sure the boys understand and enjoy the material to the best of their ability. They are taught to forge a kesher with each child, becoming effective role models. Yungerleit are also taught to recognize when a boy may need something extra, ensuring that no boy slips through the cracks. The yungerleit also learn effective classroom management and discipline, empowering them to be successful rebbeim from their first day in the classroom.

Aish Dos is not just about teaching the information, but actively works on developing skills on a practical level. Once the yungerleit are well versed in the basics of teaching, they move on to prepare their own lessons, and are given the opportunity to present them in small groups. These groups are moderated by a veteran menahel, who gives them invaluable pointers to help them perfect their techniques. Each yungerman is also paired up with a mentor who will hone in on his unique talents and abilities, guiding him to put his limudim into action.

The yungerleit become a cohesive group as they learn and grow together in an inspiring and exciting atmosphere. Many alumni of Aish Dos attest that a vital aspect of the course is the networking with other new rebbeim, providing support and a great soundboard for ideas as they develop into expert rebbeim.

Another priceless aspect of the program is the gaining experience through substituting opportunities. Any yungerman who feels ready is offered the opportunity to substitute in classrooms – a critical tool to help him prepare for his future career. Aish Dos supplies him with all the material he will need in order to turn a hefker ‘subbing day’ into an exciting and organized day where the boys actually learn.

After a yungerman completes the course, Aish Dos uses its extensive network to find him a teaching position in a school that is his personal best fit. Because each yungerman has a mentor, a menahel who knows him personally, and because he has already substituted in schools, these menahalim can vouch for him and smooth the process.

Daas Torah at Every Juncture

Since its founding, every aspect of Aish Dos was overseen by gedolim, ensuring that the chinuch of tomorrow remains both timely and timeless. Recently, Aish Dos was tremendously fortunate to be led by a new Vaad Roshei Yeshiva, who are actively involved in every detail of the course, including choosing presenters and topics. The Vaad includes Rav Mendel Slomovits, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Toras Chaim; Rav Uren Reich, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Ohr Zechariah; Rav Uri Deutch, rov of Forest Park; and Rav Henoch Shachar shlita, rov of Ohr Tuvia; and is led by Rav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, rosh yeshiva of Bais Medrash Gavoha. Rav Kotler has often repeated that there is no greater vocation for a ben Torah other than to be a mechanech, and he said that he sees Aish Dos as the stepping stone of yungeleit in Bais Medrash Govoha as they go from yungeleit into mechanchim.

These roshei yeshiva and rabbonim, who are keenly involved both with today’s yungeleit and with the chinuch scene of today, are constantly guiding Aish Dos as the program continues to stay at the forefront of an ever-evolving world. They make sure that each year’s Aish Dos program continues to be optimized with new presenters and features to reflect the needs of the younger generation.

The program also has an active Vaad Menahalim, comprised of menahalim from within the Lakewood community, who go through every single aspect of the course and actively involved in keeping the program focused and pertinent. As menahalim who run chadorim, they have firsthand knowledge of what today’s chinuch needs are and are able to shape the program with real-time needs. Aish Dos is currently directed by Rabbi Yehuda Abramsky, who, aside from overseeing the day-to-day operations of the program, also maintains a kesher with the yungerleit of Aish Dos, helping to cater to the individual needs of each yungerman.

Continuing the Legacy of Reb Yaakov Rajchenbach zt”l

Today, Aish Dos is embarking on a new era, becoming Machon Aish Dos al Shem Reb Yaakov Eliezer Rajchenbach, in memory of Reb Yaakov Eliezer ben Reb Yitzchok halevi Rajchenbach zt”l, an incredible philanthropist and well-known baal chesed. Reb Yankel, as he was affectionately known, was born and raised in post-war Lodz, immigrating with his parents to Nebraska when he was 10 years old. With his parents realizing there were no feasible chinuch options in Nebraska, they tearfully sent him on a 36-hour bus ride to learn in yeshiva in New York. After his marriage, the young Rajchenbach family settled in Chicago, where Reb Yaakov became a selfless askan, doing whatever he could to raise the flag of Torah across the Midwest. Having been met with tremendous success, Rav Yaakov was recruited by Reb Elya Svei zt”l and the Vaad Roshei yeshiva of Torah Umesorah to become nasi of Torah Umesorah. Rav Yaakov agreed, and he subsequently served as nasi for 25 years.

All throughout his time as a leader in Torah Umesorah, Reb Yaakov’s first and foremost attention was on rebbeim. It was a holy mission, entrusted upon him by the gedolim.

One incident always remained etched in his mind. It was at a meeting with the Novominsker Rebbe, zt”l, which focused on rebbeim, when, just as he was about to exit the room, the Rebbe asked him to share a personal message with the board. “These rebbeim are very talented individuals,” the Rebbe asserted. “They could have just as easily gotten lucrative jobs and made a nice parnassa like any other successful baal habos. But they chose not to,” the Novomisker Rebbe continued. It was the Rebbe’s final words that made their mark. “Instead of investing in nursing homes, they chose to invest in your children. Make sure you invest in them!”

And invest he did. Reb Yaakov’s reverence for mechanchim, who, in his words, “are molding our most precious assets,” knew no bounds, and it guided him as he remained at the helm of Torah Umesorah’s board throughout all the years.

Reb Yaakov’s esteemed son, Reb Chaim Rajchenbach, has undertaken to perpetuate his father’s legacy through Aish Dos to further his father’s vision for the rebbeim of tomorrow.

Under this new partnership, Aish Dos can blossom into an even greater program. The program is expanding in how it guides its rebbeim. From the rebbi’s first day in the classroom after he begins his new position and through the first years, Aish Dos will continue to be there for him as he gains more experience.

The new Yaakov Rajchenbach Aish Dos will continue to support the new rebbi by pairing him up with a veteran rebbi of the same grade level. The veteran rebbi will act as a mentor, offering everything from material to tips on classroom management and everything in between. In addition to the new mentorship program, Aish Dos is also planning new networking sessions, specifically for rebbeim in the first, second, or third year of teaching.

Several other projects are in the pipeline as Aish Dos expands into a new era. The focus is to build the core tenets of Aish Dos that have been a resounding success for the last 28 years while widening its impact and offering broader support for perspective rebbeim.

As the foremost rebbeim training program in the United States, Aish Dos understands its enormous responsibility. The yungerleit joining the course are going to teach the future of Klal Yisrael, thereby shaping and molding the future of Klal Yisrael. We need to ignite the fire of the Torah within every child because they are our future. There is no greater investment in Klal Yisrael than investing in our rebbeim – the ones who will build the future doros of Klal Yisrael.

Throughout the generations, choosing to become a rebbi was the noblest quest. It allows a yungerman to stay in the daled amos of Torah while at the same time being able to give over to our future. Although becoming a rebbi may not bring physical riches, the eternal reward is everlasting and multiplies over and over as the talmidim, in turn, become bnei Torah – the fathers, mechanchim, and leaders of generations to come.

Aish Dos has a proud history of serving Klal Yisrael in this capacity. And now, under the new banner of Reb Yaakov Rajchenbach, Aish Dos is primed to continue molding the rebbeim of the future.

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