The Right Yeshiva for the Right boy. Many of us have friends or a family member with a son who finds the typical yeshiva system challenging. We all ask ourselves, “What can we do?” In 2006 Rabbi Sender Y. Kaszirer stopped asking- and began working on the solution by founding the Mesivta of Eatontown to serve the needs of those students who were not succeeding elsewhere. Rabbi Kaszirer is well known throughout the educational community for his deft touch and keen understanding of the teenaged student, and is a go to resource for parents, Rabbanim, and educators for help with the educational issues.
Until just a few years ago Rabbi Kaszirer, Talmid of The Novominsker Rebbe and a musmach of Beis Medrash Govoah was a rebbe in a typical mesivta with typical bochurim and the more he experienced in the yeshiva system, the more acutely he felt the need for an alternative to the normal yeshiva system.
“The principles of the Yeshiva and Bais Yaakov system are perfect, we should surround children with Torah and the love of mitzvos. I believe that dropping out and being in a system which is not a yeshiva, is not an option. Boys who are struggling don’t need another method of schooling or program, they need a yeshiva just like everyone else, but they do need the right yeshiva.” Says Rabbi Kaszirer
Eight years ago Rabbi Kaszirer acted on this belief, forming the Yeshiva Toras Sholmo Dov- The Mesivta of Eatontown. The right yeshiva for the right student and now this unique yeshiva is moving to Lakewood.
Many classrooms, one education
The Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta of Eatontown, Reb Sender Y. Kaszirer is more than the titular leader of the school; he is the very heart of the MOE and is devoted beyond words to the education and wellbeing of his talmidim.
The Mesivta of Eatontown is the destination for many talmidim who were not encouraged to succeed by the typical yeshiva. At MOE they have the same three sedarim a day, the same daily schedule as any other yeshiva but with a different approach
“It is vital that we don’t give up on the boys, we want them to succeed in the context of a Yeshiva, we tell them that they can and must handle the yeshiva schedule. If we replace the yeshiva schedule with some other program we are essential telling the boys, you can’t succeed in a yeshiva.” Says Rabbi Kaszirer.
Learning is done in small classes with dedicated rabbeim who strive to instill lessons that go far beyond the day’s shuir. Interspersed with Gemara, Chumash,and halacha is divrei mussar, lessons in haskafa and inspiring stories. The Mesivta also has a fully accredited secular studies program that prepares the students for their continued education and parnassah.
In addition to the normal yeshiva activities there are many incentive programs and events that the yeshiva holds through the year.
Purim, Yomtov, and Shabbos are all opportunities for the hanahala to teach and to influence the bochurim.
In addition each week, the Mesivta has an exciting Motzei Shabbos program. A kumzitz, melave malka and a small trip provide a healthy use of this very vulnerable time.
The highlight event of the year is the annual MOE ski trip. This year the Mesivta traveled up to Vermont with the student body, rabbeim and a few friends of the yeshiva.
“This trip gives the rebbe-talmid dynamic a new format and in a relaxed atmosphere there is great potential for bonding. The fact is, sometimes you can accomplish more on the ski lift than in an entire year,” says 11th grade rebbe R’ Avrohom Yeshaya Mermelstein.
The Rosh Yeshiva is quick to point out that incentives and programs are not the focus of the boys’ growth but are rather a means to an end.
“Chazal say Psach Libi B’torasecha- all there needs to be is a small opening. Sure, we give the boy incentives and hold fun events, but it is all to create the pesach, the impetus for the real growth come from the Torah. Our boys have no lack of emunah, they are just beset with the myriad nisyonos of our society. Barasiy yetzer hara, barasiy Torah tavlin. Therefore the only solution comes from the Torah that they learn.”
The Mesivta also give the boys clear goals and purpose. It is common for rabbeim to discuss the future both long term and short term with their students.
“We will ask a boy, what type of job do you want? What are your goals? What do you see yourself doing in 6 months, in a year? What type of family do you envision raising? What type of life do you want? By giving them realistic goals they feel a sense of purpose that drives their enthusiasm.” Says R’ Binyomin Meisels, 9th grade rebbe.
Working with the talmidim takes a team effort and MOE works hand in hand with parents, therapists and others to ensure their success students.
“Many boys who are struggling in yeshiva have issues outside the classroom that affect their drive and ability, it is important to address all the issues our boys are facing so that they can reach their full potential,” says Rabbi Kaszirer.
This balance of love, encouragement and concern with expectations, accountability, organization, and direction creates a nourishing, nurturing atmosphere and a clear direction for the bochurim to succeed.
My Rebbe, My father
A major part of the success of MOE comes from the level of devotion the Rosh Yeshiva and rabbeim have for their bochurim.
“We are responsible for more than their limudim, we are responsible to show them that we care about them and to encourage them as much as we can. We work hard to build trust and respect with our students and if you have teenage children you know that that is easier said then done. Our job as rabbeim requires us to listen, not just to their shaylas in Gemara, but their questions about life and helping them make decision big and small. “ Says Rabbi Kaszirer
The lessons that are learned in these more intimate settings are implanted at a deep level and the dividends are clear.
“Even if a boy doesn’t respond well during high school, many years later when they start building their own home or moving forward in life those positive experiences will come to the forefront and influence the way they live their life. In Shema the posuk says “V’samtem es devari elah al levavcham”, Torah lessons are not only in the heart they also stay on the heart biding their time until they can enter, even many years later!”
The Mesivta Eatontown derech is, sharing your life with your talmidim.
“Once the school day is over, the teaching begins“ says R’ Mottchy Kaszirer 10th grade rebbe. “Bochurim need to be invited into your life in order to show them that you care. Many times bochurim will spend Shabbos with my family or other rabbeim. The lessons they pick up from how we conduct our personal lives are crucial to their long term hatzlacha”.
Rabbi Mermelstein added, “I got mishloach manos from a boy.
He signed it, ‘Love, Your talmid/son.’ This is the way they feel all the time.”
If the Rosh Yeshiva is MOE’s heart, then the bochurim are the yeshiva’s soul. The effort and love the staff at MOE puts in to each bochur merely serves to leverage the boy’s own innate abilities and potential.
“We give them the leg up by providing the right structure, but it is the boys willingness to grow, and perseverance to shtaig that ultimately catapults them to greater and greater heights. ” Says Rabbi Kaszirer
The Mesivta stands beside their bochurim with placement in post High School yeshiva or college. By insisting on an active relationship that continues well after graduation The Mesivta of Eatontown fulfills the dual promise of being both a yeshiva and a family.
A well-earned reputation as upstanding young men has made MOE seniors a recruitment target by many post high school yeshivas in Eretz Yizroel
“We love the boys from Eatontown, they come well prepared and with a willingness to shtaig”. Says a well respected Rosh yeshiva form Eretz Yisroel
A parent once called the Rabbi Kaszirer on the first day of Channukah.
“Rabbi Kaszirer I want to tell you something when I lit the menorah and made the bracha of Al Hanissim I had in mind two nissim. The neis of Channukah and the neis of my son’s improvement. Just a short time ago he was making all the wrong choices and was engaged in terrible behavior, today my son is learning and shtaiging in a prestigious yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel all due to the efforts of the rabbeim of Eatontown”
The building of a home
In addition to providing a home for its students, the Yeshiva is a haven for its alumni and their families as well. The Rosh Yeshiva gives a well-attended weekly shuir to former students and has started night kollel this past zman. An alumni N’shei was recently started by wives of the hanhalla with monthly with shuirim and projects.
“We project strong growth in our enrollment and B”H our alumni body keeps on getting larger and larger. We needed a place that our talmidim past and present, can call their own.” Said Rabbi Kaszirer, “We expect our unique brand of yeshiva to be very attractive to many of those, in the Lakewood community, both MOE graduates and those who learned elsewhere, who may have never had a place for their family to feel accepted.”
Every family needs its own home and that is why the Mesivta of Eatontown launched “Foundations”, their months long building campaign to raise the funds necessary to provide their ever growing family with its very own home.
Not just a yeshiva but part of the community
The Mesivta of Eatontown is an integral part of the Lakewood Community.
“A Yeshiva such as the Mesivta of Eatontown is as important a community facility. We provide something that the kehilla desperately needs. These days everyone knows of someone, a neighbor, a friend, or a family member, who has a child who is not doing well in typical yeshivas.” Says R’ Pinter 12th grade rebbe.
The Mesivta fills that desperate need.
In addition MOE hopes to become a destination for torah and tefilah for Lakewood residents.
“Our dream is to involve Lakewood yungeleit and balebatim into our talmidim’s education. By interacting with adults who show them care and understanding, our boys will have an even easier time reaching their goals.”
Many Lakewood Rabbonim and the Roshei Yeshiva of BMG have welcomed MOE move to Lakewood with open arms and are intimately involved in day to day decisions of the yeshiva.
“The time has come for a yeshiva like Mesivta of Eatontown to be in Lakewood,” said one of the Roshei Yeshiva.
In todays society people struggle with stigma and the fear of being looked down upon if their son is different. The MOE wants to change that.
“It must become normal for a boy who is struggling to have a choice to go to a yeshiva that is better suited rather then going to a unsuitable yeshiva and suffering needlessly as a result. It is sometimes hard to accept that your child is struggling,” says Rabbi Kaszirer “Parents worry how it will affect their reputation and shidduchim, and acceptance in the community. But the truth is, if intervention is made at the beginning it is so much easier to help a boy, than after the damage is done. “
A parent said by a recent Mesivta of Eatontown gathering,
“I went up and down the Turnpike looking for the right yeshiva for my son, any yeshiva but Eatontown. Finally when all else had failed, my son and I went to see Rabbi Kaszirer. After seeing his demeanor and meeting the rabbeim and few of the bochurim in the yeshiva, I knew this was the right place for my son. Today my son is a masmid and I thank Hakodosh Baruch Hu every day that I overcame the stigma and enrolled my child in the Mesivta of Eatontown.”
The Mesivta of Eatontown is holding its Cornerstone dinner this coming Wednesday, May 28th at Ateres Reva 7:00pm. For dinner ads, reservations and dedications or more info please call 732.415.8578 Or visit ww.themesivta.com/ads
To contact Rabbi Kaszirer call 732.232.2799 or email [email protected]