Looking for Yeshiva Suggestions for a Mature BT With a Passionate Approach to Yiddishkeit

We recently received the followed request for suggestions for an American Yeshiva for a mature BT.

I’ve been shomer mitzvos for about 5 years, and am still struggling to get a foundation in learning. I’m exploring opportunities to step back from full time work and learn in yeshiva. Israel is a possibility that I’m exploring. But it might be best to do it in the States for a variety of reasons. I’m looking for any suggestions you might have about U.S. yeshivot that are appropriate for mature BTs. I’m aware of three possibilities and plan to explore them in the coming months: Ohr Sameach and Kol Yaakov in Monsey, and the Lubovitch Yeshiva in Morristown.

I clearly want a solid foundation of gemara skills, but don’t want to neglect Tanach and m’farshim. And while I have a strong intellectual background (engineering followed by medical school) I gravitate toward chassidus and a passionate mode of prayer and joyous avodas Hashem.

Any suggestions?

24 comments on “Looking for Yeshiva Suggestions for a Mature BT With a Passionate Approach to Yiddishkeit

  1. I resent the statement that Chabad lacks in Gemarah knowledge.

    I would actually say the oposite.

    In addition to knowing and teaching how to learn Gemarah, Chabad also teaches how to learn Gemarah in the way of serving G-d and not to become the next Godol Ha’Dor.

    Morristown is the best I have seen. Great variety of intelligent Rabbis, great programs, great group of guys, and the school is split into born relgious and returnees in a different hall which gives boys a chance to become friends and learn together.

    It is lehavdil the Hogworts of the Jewish world.


    Stay FAR away from http://www.truekabbalah.org.

    The Rabbi who runs it recently went spiraling out of control. He may have suffered a severe nervous breakdown due to the miscarriage his daughter recently had.

    He’s no longer kosher, so I would run as far as I can from anything affiliated with him.

  3. Here is a great opportunity to check out Rabbi Pinson’s Yeshiva in Brooklyn next weekend!

    Musical Mystical Shabbaton in DUMBO

    Fri Jan 5 2007 – Sat Jan 6 2007

    Shabbat is the holiest day of the week, and we are enjoined to celebrate and sanctify it with song, dance, prayer, gourmet foods, rich wine, our most beautiful clothes, and relaxation. It is the time for experiencing pleasure and spirituality by making these acts Divine, experiencing Shabbat is a taste of Heaven. Meet new people and share in this special community celebration. Join us as we welcome the Shabbat Queen with song, ceremony, delicious foods and stimulating discussions. Everybody is welcome to come with an open mind, questions, reflections, to a unique and memorable Shabbat experience with Rabbi Pinson and a warm-hearted, open-minded community of friends, known and not-yet-known. Reservations are suggested; please confirm your participation by sending email to info@iyeshiva.com and put “Shabbat” in the subject line. On-site accommodation is available.

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  4. Hi there! I am also very much into Chassidus. There are some yeshivas in Israel that I know of. First there is a yeshiva called Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo which is inspired by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and you can learn all times of Chassidus there. Also at this yeshiva there and his name is Rabbi Sholom Brodt and he sends out a weekly dvar torah on the parsha of the week and he is absolutely amazing. He comes to the States to lecture as well sometimes.
    Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo – the Carlebach Yeshiva in Jerusalem, Israel http://www.shlomoyeshiva.org
    Yeshivat Bat Ayin – Chabad and Breslov teachings http://www.batayin.org
    Isralight – Rav Kook/Chabad/Breslov/Rabbi Carlebach all in one. also excellent weekly dvar torah emails
    Ascent of Safed – Here is a place where there is lots of Kabbalah learning and hospitality in the holy city of Tzfat http://www.ascent.org.il
    The Yeshiva: A school for mind body and Spirit – a new yeshiva in Brooklyn that is in Dumbo section of Brooklyn run by Rabbi DovBer Pinson. He is an excellent author and speaker and teacher of Kabbalah and Chassidus http://www.iyeshiva.com
    Also, in the meantime, to learn more Kabbalah you go to http://www.aish.com and click on Spirituality and Kabbalah 101 and there are so many articles about the topic. http://www.chabad.org, http://www.inner.org, http://www.kabbalaonline.com, http://www.breslov.com, http://www.ilovetorah.com, http://www.tiferet.org, http://www.thetrugmans.com are websites in the meantime that you can go to and learn more Kabbalah. I hope that helps.

    P.S. I do not know where you live but if you live in NYC starting Thursday 12/28 at 8 PM at the Carlebach Shul Rabbi Citron is giving a 3 week lecture on Reb Nachman of Breslov. I am definitely going to be there.
    Carlebach Shul- The Carlebach Institute http://www.carlebachshul.org They also have very leibidik Friday night davening every week.
    I hope that helps. Please keep in touch

  5. Yeshiva Shor Yoshuv in Far Rockaway runs a good operation. It has a new campus, dorm, is located squarely within the frum Long Island South Shore community, is close to mass transportation, and has numerous other amenities.

  6. Awesome and Beautiful.
    That’s what it feels like to put out a question to the leaders of this blog, and subsequently get a flood of helpful and though-provoking responses from readers. What a delightful suprise. I had no expectation that this would come of the question that I sent in. It’s been only a day and so many concerned holy yidden have responded with their thoughts and suggestions.
    Beautiful. Really Beautiful.
    Yasher Koach to everyone involved.
    I welcome further input.


  7. I suggest learning at Machon Meir. Its a fine institution which will teach you the finest skills for learning. Its also in Eretz Yisrael and will give you a foundation for not only understanding Torah and Mitzvot but what it means to be part of the Jewish People and our collective goals as a nation. The Rabbi’s are all Talmei Chachamim and have served in the the IDF. It is a Baalie Tshuva Yishva with a diverse group of guys from the US, Israel, UK and all over the world.


  8. I’ve learned at a few yeshivot for mature BTs in the US and in Eretz Yisrael, and can say there’s nothing like learning Torah in Eretz Yisrael. If you can work it out, learning anywhere in Eretz Yisrael makes the Torah come alive much more than in chutz l’aretz.

    If you are thinking about Eretz Yisrael, I can strongly recommend Yeshivat Darche Noam/Shapell’s in Yerushalayim. The learning there is designed to give guys a foundation in all types of learning. During the morning seder everyone learns Gemorrah b’iyun, and in the afternoon there are classes in Hebrew, Halacha, Tanach, Tefillah, Gemorrah and even Chassidus.
    As the name of the yeshiva implies, it’s geared towards Dirachei Darche Noam, both among the Rabbanim and students. There are several Rabbis on staff who are either full-fledged Chassids or have strong Chassidic leanings.
    The yeshiva is geared for BTs who have been frum for a few years and want a serious learning environment. The student population is divided between fresh college graduates and people who have been working for awhile and want to take off time from their careers.

  9. You didn’t really expect one answer, did you? :-)

    When I first went to Ohr Somayach in Yonkers in 1978 (which eventually became OS in Monsey) after a month there I left for OS in Yerushalayim. I was given an interesting piece of advice from the person who was running the yeshiva at the time, Rabbi Mordechai Schiller (definatly a chossid – he’s the brother of OS’s founder, Rav Nota Schiller who’s definatly NOT a chassid). He said I needed OS to develop the learning skills but I should venture out of the yeshiva to grab all the chassidic warmth Yerushalayim had to offer. There are rebbe’s tishes to visit and chassidic homes to eat over at and in that way both can happen.

    It worked for me. I’m not a chassid but the warmth I received form venturing out to those homes and places was just what I needed.

    Just an idea.

  10. You mention that it may be better for you to be in the US. If it has to be, fine. but I would try very hard to go to EY. Unless you plan on living there, the time that you spend full-time learning, may be the only opportunity you’ll have to be there full time. (Mashiach should come soon.) It is not something to take lightly.

  11. I have never heard anyone recommend Morristown or any Chabad institution for developing learning skills, especially in gemara. I have met at least one serious Chabadnik who felt compelled to come to Aish Jerusalem to learn gemara precisely for this reason.

    I have no idea why Anonymous keeps referring to Chassidus in reference to Ohr Someach, which is a decidedly Lithuanian yeshiva, notwithstanding the chassidic bent of the Schorr family. The surrounding community is also, for all practical purposes, not chasidish, though in Monsey at large that is of course not the case.

    Kol Yaakov is a more bare-bones experience (I am an alumnus) but you are more likely to get personal attention there than in OS. But you must take a close look and see what can be done for you there today. Spend a week to try it out.

    I am also an Aish alumnus and cannot concur in the recommendation for Aish Passaic given your situation. It is really for beginners and is a brand new program as well. Aish Jerusalem is something else.

  12. Only check out Morristown if you’re convinced you want to become Chabad and only want to learn Chabad Chasidut, since they won’t teach you anything else.

  13. Check out Morristown – there’s nothing quite like immersing in a chassidishe environment and you’ll still find someone to learn tanach with :)

    It’s like when I went to law school and I told my father I wanted to be an entertainment lawyer. He laughed and said “just be a lawyer – learn to read a case, read a statute, counsel a client – then you specialize later on” It was sound advice and I’d recommend a similar regimen – first get yourself into an environment and headspace where everything makes sense. The pieces all fall into place thereafter.

  14. As a veteren of both yeshivos in Monsey that you mentioned, first I would recommend OS over KY.

    Both yeshivos, though, are located in or around densely populated Chassidic neighborhoods, giving you access to several types of Chassidus, including, if you like, Chabad.

    Rabbi Simcha Schorr is the RY of OS. He is an unbelievable talmid chacham and chassid. Every Thursday night he gives a densely packed shiur in Sfas Emes. He is really off the charts in terms of knowledge, not only in termo of Chassidus but nigleh as well (he’s also chief editor of the ArtScroll Gemaras).

    The Mashgiach there is Rabbi Braun, a talmid chacham, an extremely warm man and, IMO, one of the few people who really knows baalei teshuva, their issues and what they need to grow in ruchnius while intergrating into a Torah community in a realistic way.

    OS also has other great rabbeim, and at any given time a smattering of doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs learning in their beautiful bais medrash either part time or full time.

  15. I would suggest that you look into YU’s JSS/Mechinah progam or Ohr Sameach or Chapell in EY. Both emphasize the development of learning skills.

  16. I strongly concur with Baruch’s reccommendation. Before one can be oveid HaShem b’simchah, it’s a good idea to learn what the actual avodah is. Also, any mossad associated with Aish is probably not for you.

  17. Regarding Mark’s suggestion: if you come to Passaic and need a base while you are searching please look us up. –Chana–

  18. Rav Moshe Soloveichik has a yeshivah in Chicago Yeshivas Brisk and he is very good at teaching students how to learn. If you would consider a place outside of NY perhaps you should consider that as an option. If this is of interest to you if you e-mail me at baruch@avichai.org.il I can provide with his contact information. What ever you decide to do I wish you much success in learning and in everything.

    Kol tov,


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