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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Elie (second from left) and friends in Jerusalem. (Credit: Elie Kern)

Elie Kern is studying at Yeshivat Lev HaTorah in Ramat Beit Shemesh. He grew up in Teaneck and attended Frisch for high school. In the summers, Elie has gone to Camp Lavi and Camp Nesher. His family davens at the Young Israel of Teaneck.

His next stop? University of Maryland.

Why did you choose to study at Lev HaTorah?

I chose to come here because I heard great things about the rebbeim and the atmosphere of this yeshiva from the alumni.

What kind of goals do you have for the year?

I wanted to improve my Hebrew, learn about the Jewish people and our homeland, connect to Judaism through learning, and to give myself the skills to learn on my own even after leaving yeshiva.

What have been some of the highlights of your year so far?

A few highlights have been our shabbaton in the Old City, and our hike in the Sinai Desert. On both of those I felt very spiritually and emotionally connected to Israel.

What kind of challenges have you faced coming to Israel?

Going out of my comfort zone to a country thousands of miles away from home, with a new culture, new language and completely new people I’ve never met before.

How has your year been different from your expectations?

It has been different from my expectations in that I’ve grown to really enjoy learning much more than I would have thought I would. I definitely had culture shock and was very overwhelmed at the start. After a full schedule of learning Torah every day from morning until night, I originally ended each night completely physically and mentally drained. Luckily, the rebbeim helped me personalize and adjust my schedule to help gradually ease into the learning, and now I feel very comfortable.

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

My favorite place to go is to my sister in Tel Aviv because I love the beach and it’s always so nice to be with my family.

Who is a teacher at Lev HaTorah whom you connect to especially well?

I especially connect with Rav Natanel Lebowitz.

What is one of your favorite classes at Lev HaTorah?

My favorite class in Lev is Rabbi Machlis’ class on the parshat hashavua. The man is a living, breathing definition of chesed who has touched so many lives. Just being in his presence for an hour a day is such a privilege that I so very much appreciate.

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

I am most looking forward to continue to build relationships with rebbeim and other students.