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Thursday, February 22, 2018

MMY students (l-r) Rivky Elberger (Elizabeth, NJ), Yael Weis (Seattle, Washington), Ruby Jacobs (Atlanta, Georgia) taking a final group photo before Shabbat. (Credit: Rivky Elberger)

Rivky Elberger is studying at Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim in Jerusalem. She grew up in Elizabeth, attended JEC for elementary school and Bruriah for high school. For the past two summers she has attended the beit midrash program at Camp Moshava-IO. Her family davens at JEC and the Elmora Hills Minyan.

Her next stop? Lander College for Women, to study psychology and business.

Why did you choose to study at MMY?

I chose MMY for a myriad of reasons. First and foremost, MMY provides a variety of learning opportunities by having both beit midrash time and taught shiurim. I wanted to choose a program that would offer me different ways of approaching Torah from the ways I’d been taught before. MMY is a place to build my knowledge of Halacha and to strengthen my emunah through learning textual sources.

What kind of goals do you have for the year?

Going into this year, I had many goals I had been thinking about throughout high school. My main goal was to obtain the tools that would allow me to open a sefer and learn on my own so that my learning won’t have to end when I leave seminary. I also want to expose myself to diverse experiences by spending every Shabbat in a different community, learning about different people’s ways of approaching Judaism each week. I hope to gain more understanding of other people and become more accepting of others.

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

It’s hard to pinpoint one moment as the highlight, because simply being in this country is such an amazing experience and a blessing. One moment that was very memorable for me was sitting in shul Friday night on my first “out” Shabbat, listening to the voices of a hundred Jews harmonizing Kabbalat Shabbat, while looking out at the pink and blue sunset over the mountains of Yerushalayim.

What kind of challenges have you faced coming to Israel?

My biggest challenge so far has been trying not to fall into the trap of taking where I am for granted? and instead trying to keeping the flame of Israel alive. Fortunately, since it is my first time in Israel, I often look around in the shuk or in shul, and the flow of emotion and gratitude easily comes back to me.

How has your year been different from your expectations?

Coming into this year, I had very high expectations of what the learning would be like and what I’d be able to experience while in Israel. The past few months have, baruch Hashem, lived up to those expectations. Israeli culture is an adjustment coming from America, but it’s easier to get the hang of it after learning the bus schedule. The learning here is challenging, but the amount of knowledge I’m gaining makes it worth it. I had the expectation that I’d be learning all day for the most part, but I’m happy that it’s mixed with tiyulim and new experiences.

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

So far, my favorite place to go for Shabbat was Yerucham. It was eye-opening looking to the right and seeing homes and parks, and looking to the left and seeing miles and miles of desert. The people themselves are also very welcoming and creative. I was there Shabbat Parshat Noach, and the theme of the kiddush was “zugot” (pairs), just like the animals on the teiva.

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

A teacher whom I connect with well is Mrs. Brofsky. She teaches a shiur on Rav Soloveitchik’s “Lonely Man of Faith” integrated with Tanach. Mrs. Brofsky has the ability to identify with her students and she delivers the Rav’s lofty ideas in a way that her students can understand. I also enjoy that she integrates psychological ideas in her shiur.

Which is one of your favorite classes at MMY?

One of my most enjoyable classes in MMY is Jewish medieval philosophies taught by Rabbi Finkelman. We go through the writings of many philosophers and discuss their theories on ideas such as faith vs. knowledge and reasons for mitzvot. I have never had a class like this and I like that it allows me to think in new and creative ways.

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

I want to make the most of all the opportunities I have this year that I won’t necessarily have again. I am looking forward to the connections I will make with the amazing people I am meeting in MMY and around Israel. I also want to visit as many places in Israel as I possibly can and experience everything this magnificent country has to offer.

By JLNJ Staff/Israel