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Jewish Journal

The Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem

by Nolan Lebovitz

May 17, 2014 | 10:27 am

Go on an archaeological tour of the Old City of Jerusalem and the guide will undoubtedly explain to you how the stairs leading up to the Holy Temple was a spiritual experience. The act of climbing them forced one to humble oneself. I try to imagine the experience of climbing those steps to make an offering at the Holy Temple. Those steps led to humility and perspective – Those steps led to G-d.

Almost everyday for the last ten months, I arrived to the corner of Agron and Keren HaYisod in Jerusalem and entered the gates of the Fuchsberg Center. Then I approached the Beit Midrash of the Conservative Yeshiva (CY), a place where tremendous teachers transmit Torah at the highest level within an open and accepting atmosphere. Everyday as I entered the Beit Midrash I heard Isaiah’s words ringing in my ear, “For the law will go forth from Zion, And the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem.” And I was humbled.

American Judaism has a great deal vested in the Conservative Movement. After spending ten months at the CY in Jerusalem, I believe the CY to be one of the institutions that holds the keys to the future of the Conservative Movement and the future of Judaism. One of the eternal truths is that Torah and all revelation flows out from Jerusalem and from the people who touch Jerusalem and who are touched by her as well. The CY is not only a place where loving teachers help students learn and understand the Mesorah (the tradition), but also a place where the tradition is lived out on a daily basis. Every single Jew would be better off for spending time in the CY, but at the very least every Conservative Jew should experience it.

Studying at the CY binds you to the three core principles of Judaism – G-d, Torah and Israel. Nowhere, and I mean in no other single place in the world, can one experience all three at the same time other than in Jerusalem. And in no other Beit Midrash in Jerusalem, can one learn and grow with other open-minded, liberal, academic and curious students at all ages and levels from all over the world – other than the CY.

In recent days, I sometimes find myself gazing out the window at the stairs outside of the Beit Midrash. I can imagine my kids climbing up the stairs and jumping down as they’ve done so many times this year. I can see my daughter dancing and my son using the ramp to race Matchbox cars. And I hope and pray that my kids can return when it is their time to experience the true joy of this building.

There are many important causes in Jerusalem that deserve support from American Jews. There is no other cause that better reflects our core values than the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Yes, it needs our financial support, but more importantly it needs access to our greatest resource – our children. A trip to the CY cements Jewish identity. Spend a winter break program there and taste it. Enjoy a Summer session and sample a course or two. Learn there for a semester and it will open your eyes. Live there for a year and the CY will change your life.

The CY is not a school. It’s a family. I am proud to call myself part of the CY Family. I hope each and every one of you visit the website below and LIKE the Facebook page (www.facebook.com/conservativeyeshiva). Please engage in their long distance learning programs. Please visit the campus. Meet the teachers. I know that they’ll welcome you with open arms. They did for my family and me. And we’ll always be grateful.

I can’t wait until I humbly return to those steps outside the Beit Midrash, this time to offer my own kids to learn there. Lehitraot CY, I will miss you.

For more info about the CY, go to www.conservativeyeshiva.org or email any questions to yeshiva@uscj.org.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Nolan Lebovitz was born and raised in Highland Park, Illinois.  Growing up, he belonged to North Suburban Synagogue Beth-El in Highland Park and attended Solomon Schechter Day...

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