Mordechai Sheinson is studying at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shvut (shana bet). He grew up in Hillside, attended JEC for elementary school and high school. His family davens at Adath Israel.
His next stop? Rutgers University, to study computer science.
Why did you choose to study at the Gush?
I am currently in shana bet at Yeshivat Har Etzion.
At first Gush wasn’t even on my radar, but on my second year of NCSY Kollel, we had a shabbaton in the Gush, and I discovered the amazing grounds, and the small lending library in one of the dorm buildings. Then, later, when I was at the YU Israel Fair I noticed that some of the more serious yeshivot mentioned how great their programs were in comparison to Gush. After attending the Gush presentation, and meeting with Rav Gottlieb for my interview, it seemed like a match made in heaven: an amazing campus coupled with one of the more serious learning programs, filled with amazing people.
What kind of goals do you have for the year?
Coming into shana bet, my goals were to improve on the progress I had made on my shana aleph goals: to incorporate learning into my everyday life, to improve my reading skills, and to work on my ability to understand the Gemara.
What have been some of the highlights of your year so far?
For me, Tishrei is always the most inspiring part of the year, with our intense focus on improving ourselves. However, every day I am constantly inspired by the people I see learning in the beit midrash during all the breaks. The most exciting moment of my year was the first day that I stepped into the yeshiva’s beit midrash. Seeing everyone learning reminded me of how much I had grown over my shana aleph, and everything I was looking forward to accomplishing in the coming year.
What kind of challenges have you faced coming to Israel?
The hardest part of being away from home is finding a way to deal with all of those little things that were so easy to solve at home, like buying healthy snacks, finding good reading material and keeping in touch with family.
How has your year been different from your expectations?
I had already attended NCSY Kollel for two summers, so my expectations were pretty much on par with what I experienced over the summers, and I felt very well prepared for my experience.
Where is your favorite place to go for weekends/Shabbat so far?
I really enjoy staying in yeshiva for Shabbat. I am free to hang out with my friends or just read a book in my room. I am able to learn whatever I’d like and don’t feel pressured toward anything specific.
Who is a teacher at the Gush you connect to especially well?
I think I connect especially well with Rav Waxman. I always enjoy speaking with him, whether about his Tanach class or Gemara shiur. I always feel like I come out of our talks with a deeper understanding of whatever the topic may be.
Which is one of your favorite classes at the Gush?
I really enjoy going to Rabbi Leibtag’s class. It’s always interesting, and his insights on Tanach are often game changing, and yet when he says them, they become the simplest, most obvious of ideas.
What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?
I look forward to always seeing what’s just over the next hill, be it a new person, a new book, or even a new way to understand a pasuk that I’ve been reading for my whole life. Every day brings about new discoveries and I can’t wait to see where it will all take me.