CTL Winter Fellowships

Every year, we are pleased to welcome back a significant number of alumni who choose to spend their winter break in Yeshiva. This year, CTL put together a program specifically catering for visiting alumni currently in College and provided fellowships for successful candidates who display leadership involvement and potential.

We are proud to present the inaugural CTL Winter Fellows and their leadership statements:


Danny Abboudi

Danny Abboudi2My leadership experience centers around my involvement in Bnei Akiva. In High School, I was first a Madrich in the Bnei Akiva Snif in Philadelphia and then I was the Rosh Snif during my Senior Year. During the summer, I have worked at Camp Stone for four sessions. I have worked in the Beit Midrash, which is responsible for Shiurim and Chinuch in camp, as well as a Madrich for the Oldest Bunk where we focused on educational messages such as leadership, responsibility, and maturity.

I am currently a Boger Bnei Akiva; as such, I have been involved in the Philadelphia Snif. I am currently a Rosh Snif for Bnei Akiva in East Brunswick as part of Bnei Akiva of New York (BANY). Lastly, I am also a Rosh Shevet for 4th-6th graders in the New York area, which means I am responsible for running events throughout the year through Bnei Akiva for any Chanichim in 4th-6th grade. This allows the Chanichim to be involved in Bnei Akiva outside of a camp environment.


Jacob Bernstein

Jacob Bernstein (YHE ’10-’11) is currently a senior at Yeshiva College, majoring in Jewish History and Mathematics while minoring in Business Management, withJacob Bernstein2 aspirations of entering the Rabbinate. He is also currently enrolled in the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, working to receive a master’s degree in Jewish History. Jacob and his wife, Penina (Migdal Oz ‘10-‘11), live in Washington Heights, NY and serve as the Alumni Coordinators for the Etzion Foundation. As a proud alumnus of Gush, Jacob also serves as an Editor-in-Chief of Harerei Etzion - a new publication featuring divrei Torah by faculty and staff of Gush and Migdal Oz.

While at YU, Jacob has served in numerous leadership roles, including his current position as Vice President of the SOY-JSC Student Council. Previously, he served as both the Logistics Director and Vice Chairman of the Honors Program Student Board in Yeshiva College, and has been the President of the Student Holocaust Education Movement (SHEM). Jacob is currently a fellow of the YU School Kollel Fellowship, and in that role teaches every Friday at Yeshivat Noam in New Jersey. For the past year and a half, Jacob and Penina have been the Youth Directors at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue, where they are responsible for all programs and events involving children ages five and up.  In the summers, Jacob serves as Director of the Boys' Beit Midrash Program (BMP) and works directly with the administration and educational staff, teaching and planning educational programs at Camp Morasha.


Josh Blachorsky

Josh Blachorsky2Being able to hone my leadership skills through with the CTL at Yeshivat Har Etzion is a unique opportunity that I cannot expect to receive elsewhere. Being on a college campus presents many challenges to the committed Jew and in order to thrive religiously, I feel I need to keep my connections to my Yeshiva strong, and having the CTL here to help is a tremendous resource. At Rutgers, while there is a large Jewish community, there is a dearth of content filled Torah learning. However, I and other bogrei Yeshivat Har Etzion have started a Beit Medrash Program to attempt to change this, and we are excited to be partnering with the CTL which has graciously agreed to help us achieve our goals. To be able to return to Yeshiva and draw on the years of experience the CTL has in starting Talmud Torah programs will most certainly be helpful in helping us lead our program at RU. 



Moshi Broner

Moshi Broner2I grew up and was raised in both the Chabad and Mizrachi communities, and therefore have role-models from both worlds, who inspire me to grow in Torah, see G-d in every facet of the world, and share my love of Torah and passion for Judaism with all those I come in contact with.

Post my two years of learning in Yeshivat Har Etzion, I dedicated my time as a Madrich of Bnei Akiva; leading years 12, 11 and grade 3's. I have also been Rosh Machane and Rosh Tochnit of camps in Melbourne, as well as a regular member of the Bet Midrash and YG kollel. With thanks to my parents, our home has been open to University aged Jewish students for an Oneg Shabbat, Motzaei Shabbat, or Sunday fun activities.


Aharon Chemel

Aharon Chemel2Up until now I have been a member of Bnei Akiva South Africa. I have previously been a Sgan of a shichva on camp helping run and organise the logistics and activities. This year I was Rosh Winter camp as well as going to be the Rosh of the Grade 9 year on Machaneh.

I attended MTA (2011) and Kfar (2008) leadership programs where i attended the Gush and Kfar Etzion respectively. I hope to ascertain higher leadership in Bnei next year and be a part of their nationals team where I will please G-d get the opportunity to be a part of the decision and policy making. In order to help Bnei continue to improve and reach greater heights.



David Chernick

David Chernick2I am currently in my third year of Actuarial Science at the University of Witwatersrand. In 2011, I spent a year growing, connecting and developing my relationship to Torah and Hashem at Yeshivat Har Etzion. I cultivated many relationships with various incredibly knowledgeable, caring and influential Ramim and Madrichim, many of whom I still am in contact with today.

After my year in Israel and Yeshiva I returned to South Africa to begin my studies and my involvement in the community. I began to take up leadership positions in Bnei Akiva where I started to really understand the importance of the movement, while unexpectedly, gaining a lot of personal growth in turn. Over the years of 2012 until the middle of 2014, I lead the Youth Minyan at the Yeshiva College Campus every shabbat. This role included teaching the kids the meaning and importance of davening and ensuring that the minyan grew over time for both girls and boys.

Throughout 2013, I was the Johannesburg Bnei Akiva Treasurer and I was also the treasurer for Winter Camp in 2013. During 2014, I lead a group of 107 kids to Israel during their July holidays, on a Bnei Akiva programme called Hadracha Tzeira. I am looking forward to continuing my active involvement both in my community as well as furthering my Torah studies in the future.


Jeremy Cooper

Jeremy Cooper2Blessed with an unbelievable year of Talmud Torah and with clearer direction on how to be an 'עובד ה at yeshiva, I have been able to direct my personal growth to being a leader both in my hometown, Memphis, and at Columbia University. In Memphis, I have begun my dream of imparting Torah to others, delivering a number of שיעורים to high school students. During Pesach, I now coordinate our family program’s array of דברי תורה and שיעורים.

Despite the understandably harsh stigma toward secular college, I have actually had the opposite experience at Columbia College as a leader in the Yavneh community. With prudent time management, I have been able to place learning and teaching as priorities, including heading the daily הלכה יומית after davening.

In the long-term future, it is certainly my hope that I will be מלמד תורה. As הר עציון has imbued in me, my passion for Talmud Torah and commitment to the betterment of כלל ישראל will always be what I hold most dear.


Pinhus Dashevsky

Pinhus Dashevsky2As a college senior, I will continue to take responsibility for those around me. I will continue inviting Jews from all walks of life for Shabbat meals, and engaging them in religious dialogue. The Young Zionist Leadership conference taught me that leadership can take on many roles and that Zionism has many faces. This allows me to interact with people with whom I disagree in a non-confrontational way. Studying Talmud has always been a priority and I try to help those around me study Talmud as well. I have many Skype and Telephone Chavrutas for those who I cannot meet with face to face. Ultimately a greater appreciation for learning is something that I value from my year in YHE and I hope to be able to convey that to others.


Dani Edelman

Dani Edelman2I recently became an NCSY Advisor, I help lead a YU club that has YU and Stern students teaching science to public schools in the area. I also lead groups of guys to Colombia Hospital on Shabbatot to visit sick children affiliated with Chai Lifeline. In general, I gained a tremendous sense of responsibility from my year in Gush to be an active leader in the Jewish community.


Nachi Farkas

Nachi Farkas2My experience in Jewish leadership after Yeshiva has been driven by a responsibility to improving Jewish communal life at Queens College. I became active in the community, serving as the VP of the Hillel for 2 years. In that time I facilitated the hiring of a new Executive Director who was sympathetic for the need of a regular shabbat life, acquired 2 loaned Sifrei Torah as well as provisions to house these Torahs safely, succeeded in impressing the need for communal Rabbinic direction and the subsequent hiring of a JLIC couple: Rabbi Robby and Shoshana Charnoff who have been instrumental in the evolving dynamic, as well as cultivated tens of student leaders to become active and responsible for creating the community they wished to see, and lastly raised hundreds of dollars for different learning and religious initiatives. As a senior there are now over 400 Jewish students who reside around the campus. Many are NY and NJ residents but we have attracted students from Florida, Chicago, Rhode Island etc. The community does not buckle under its potential for absorbing post Israel students who begin their transition back into the secular world. Instead I am incredibly proud to report that our students are achieving new spiritual highs and are making active commitments to their religion.


Betzalel Fischman

Betzalel Fischman2Betzalel has been a staff member at Camp Stone for three summers, spending time in both hadracha and chinuch roles.  There he was involved with teaching various types of shiurim and leading sichot.

As a talmid at Yeshivat Har Etzion, Betzalel was a regular at the periodic Achuzat Sarah shabbatons, going with friends to bring ruach to a children’s home in Bnei Brak.

Since arriving at YU, Betzalel has taken part in the Torah Tours program. He and two friends spent Simchat Torah in Youngstown, OH. There, they led tefillot and hakafot and gave all sorts of shiurim throughout the yom tov.

Betzalel is passionate about Jewish learning and community and aspires to be involved in them either professionally or as a lay-leader going forward.


Chaim Goldberg

Chaim Goldberg2During high school I had a number of leadership roles, both in Denver as well as Skokie. In Denver, I started and organized a late minyan for guys in high school/yeshiva during vacations and summers, which, on a good vacation, also had a breakfast and learning component afterwards. During my senior year in Skokie, I was the editor of our newspaper, content editor of our yearbook, and coordinator of fundraising for our class trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Additionally, there were a few NCSY Junior Shabbatons which I was an advisor on. Both in Denver and in Chicago, I would (and still do) lain regularly, often for minyanim that had a difficult time finding one otherwise, such as nursing homes, youth minyanim, or hashkama minyanim (including Gush Etzion's own budding Givat Hachish community).  

More currently, the previous two summers have found me in Camp Yeshivas Hakayitz as a learning rebbe, the first summer teaching 7th graders and this past summer 8th graders. In additon, this year I will B'ezrat Hashem be an advisor for the Georgia NCSY region.


Aminadav Grossman

Aminadav Grossman2As a college student, I have been involved heavily in the beit midrash committee at Columbia/ Barnard Hillel, serving as the co-chair for a year, organizing shiurim, guest speakers, chaburot, and other Torah programming. I still coordinate a weekly peer- led shiur at the Hillel, where I guide and empower students to create a source sheet and give a shiur, often for the first time. I have given shiurim in the Hillel as well as in other shuls and communitites that I've visited. I was a madrich this past summer on Mach Hach Hesder. I have coordinated several Gush shabbatonim and visits by Ramim to Columbia.

I plan on pursuing a career in avodat hakodesh - likely in chinuch or the rabbinate, or otherwise in the Jewish professional world, generally contributing to klal yisrael in the best way I can do so. 


Michi Hayman

Michi Hayman2After MTA 2007 I returned to Sydney for 6 months. During those 6 months I was Rosh PR for Bnei Akiva, a madrich for high school students, I gave shiurim at Moriah High School and led davening for the primary school students. 

From August 2008-2011 I completed my undergraduate degree at Yeshiva University. While in New York I worked for Yachad where I organised shabbatonim for people with disabilities throughout the New York area; coordinating volunteers and running programming. I had a job on campus as Resident Adviser. I spent the summer of 2010 in Dimona as a madrich on YU's Counterpoint program with Rabbi Bednarsh. We taught English to underprivileged children in a context of social justice.

After YU, i moved to Melbourne Australia. All being well, I am on track to completing law school in the upcoming few months. I work, part-time every day, at Yeshiva College, a high school, as a remedial teacher. I work one-on-one with students with disabilities. I have taught a few students bar-mitzvah and liaise closely with their parents. I have a few chavrutot with members of the community in the Mizrachi beit midrash.


Ilan Lavan

Ilan Lavan2Ilan Lavan is an MTA alumnus from 2010 and has returned to Yeshivat Har Etsion for his Summer Uni Break. At home, in Sydney Australia, Ilan is heavily involved in Bnei Akiva where he has previously been Director of Israel programs (2011), Director of Machane (2012), and Executive Director (2013). Furthermore Ilan is an integral part of the Department of Informal Jewish Education at Moriah College and has led the year 10 students on Israel Study tours in the past few years. Ilan is currently studying a Bachelor of Commerce at Sydney University.


Doron Levine

Doron Levine2Rav Soloveitchik powerfully articulated the force of community. In his seminal essay aptly entitled “The Community”, the Rav asserts that the halakhic Jew is existentially molded by his radical commitment to the klal. The Jewish Nation, explains the Rav, is not merely a mutually beneficial arrangement of quid pro quo utility, "but a metaphysical entity, an individuality…a living whole”.

Leadership is the archetypical instantiation of this communal-consciousness that the Rav so masterfully limns. Not content with abstract emotional-cognitive experience, the Leader demands reification. Not content with playing the scholar, exclusively invested in notional enterprise, the Leader dons his overalls, rolls up his sleeves, and plunges into the public fray. Such is my motivation for joining the ranks of the Center for Torah Leadership: to maintain the scholastic, while immersed in the concrete.


Tzvi Levitin

Tzvi Levitin2I think it is extremely important for young Jews to get involved in Jewish leadership as early as possible, for the sake of both the community and the individual. Leadership is essential for the future of the nation, but it is also an important tool for young people to figure out who they are and what their hashkafa is. When in a position where our decisions may affect the opinions and points of view of others, we think more critically about what we think is important and why. There is no limit to the potential we have to spread Torah and the values it professes. We all have hopes and aspirations for the future of our community, and we are the ones that must take action to make them happen. Through our joined actions as united leaders in a global community, we make the future brighter for all of Am Yisrael.




Gabriel Levy

Gabriel Levy2I am currently a madrich for Bnei Akiva in South Africa. I have been involved in the movement most of my life and for the past two years, after MTA, I have been heavily involved in Bnei Akiva. Bnei Akiva is a huge part of my life and I am always doing things for it, whether I am organising camp launches, going for school visits, being a madrich on three camps and always trying my hardest to make sure our numbers are rising. I will still be involved in Bnei Akiva for the next few years and I hope to inspire more and more children.



Yonatan Mehlman

Yonatan Mehlman2There is great value in being a leader. The ability to positively influence and impact others is priceless. I personally have had many opportunities to act as a leader in the past, and I look to continue to lead in the future.

Kulanu is a local organization in Woodmere, NY, whose goal is to provide services to families in the community who have children with intellectual disabilities. Amongst my high school leadership positions, I am proud to have led a branch of their mishmar programs for the majority of my high school career.

Currently, I am engaged in many informal leadership opportunities. Having just begun YU, the chance to help others in the beit medrash, in classes, or just in general is very much present. I seize these opportunities whenever I can. 

In the future, I hope to be involved in many more leadership roles. Specifically, there is a new initiative called "Music VS" where students visit the elderly and children struggling to overcome medical conditions, and use song, music, and dance to enhance bikkur cholim. I hope to continue even beyond YU, leading wherever I find myself, professionally and in my community. I seek to galvanize my potential as a ben Torah to give shiurim, and lead by example. With the strong footing I have received from my time in Gush, participating in the CTL initiative, and beyond, I hope to continue to have a valuable and lasting impact on individuals and perhaps even communities.


Asher Parkes

Asher Parkes2I have been heavily involved in both the Beit Midrash in Melbourne, and Bnei Akiva this year. I was part of a Kollel program in which we committed to learning 10 hours a week in the Beit Midrash. In Bnei Akiva I led year 12s, and was involved in arranging the visits and interviews with the Ramim from all the Yeshivot and Midrashot for their post school year in Israel. As well I was involved with the Zionist Youth Council of Victoria as Rosh Chinuch, and helped facilitate both the educational and operational sides of a camp and a few other events for all 6 of the Zionist youth movements in Victoria. Additionally I was involved in outreach by leading on the Jewish camp in Adelaide for a week. Next year I plan to continue being involved in both Bnei Akiva and the Beit Midrash, and I feel that time spent back in Yeshiva allows to help “recharge” my inspiration and knowledge of Jewish Education.


Yehuda Rabinowitz

Yehuda Rabinowitz2I was a member of the Judaica Committee at my school (2008-2009), which was responsible for organising Jewish-related events, such as assemblies for Purim, Yom Ha'atzmaut celebrations, as well as ceremonies for days such as Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaShoah.

In 2008, I was one of 30 South African students to be chosen to participate in a Partnership 2000 (now called Partnership 2gether) educational trip to Poland.

I have been a member of Bnei Akiva South Africa since 2006, and a Madrich since 2008/2009. I have been on 3 end of year camps as a Madrich, and will be going to the end of year camp as a Madrich this year and next year (my final year). I was also a Madrich on the Hadracha Tzeira 2013 program - in which we bring Chanichim from South Africa for a 3 week tour of Israel.

As a member of Bnei Akiva, I was Sgan Rosh Shevet Eitan (Deputy Head of the grade 9 year) on camp last year (2012), and was Rosh Shevet Eitan (Head of the grade 10 year) during this year (2013), both of which involve a large degree of organisation (organising the camp program, and organising events and outings during the year respectively).


Aaron Schweitzer

Aaron Schweitzer2From eighth grade and throughout high school, I started and ran the team minyan at my shul, which featured teens running the entire minyan and a kiddush every week hosted by different families.  In school, I was the head of the tennis team, the editor in chief of the paper, the captain of the model UN team and head of the philosophy club.

Currently at Penn, I am on the board for the Night Seder Program, am a mashgiach for the kitchen and have organized Heart to Heart meals for Jewish students on campus. I am hoping to continue to be an active and dynamic personality in the Jewish community by leading shiurim and heading various events. I hope that I can also start a tutoring group for the SATs and become the head student in the lab in which I work.


Aaron Senior

Aaron Senior2I am currently studying at the University of Pennsylvania and I am a devoted member of the Orthodox Community at Penn (OCP). I am currently the head of the Shiurim Committee, which organizes 2-3 shiurim per night for the Orthodox students at Penn. This leadership role gives me the opportunity to spread Torah and empower students to give shiurim on top of the amazing staff of Rabbis and educators already provided by JLIC and the OU. Along with being the head of the Shiurim Committee, I am also one of the heads of the Dvar Torah committee. 

On top of these roles, last year, I helped found a night seder program from 9-11 PM every night in the Penn Beit Midrash. I am currently the head of the growing program called NSP (Night Seder at Penn). After establishing NSP, we have increased attendance and the overall learning on campus. Because of the Beit Midrash and its programming we have decided to keep the open for an extra hour two times a week. Special NSP programming includes a night strictly devoted to chavruta learning, a coordinated chabura program, in which we invite learned people from the Philadelphia community to give chaburot and sichot and Tuesday night Mussar, which is given by a talmid at 10:30 PM. 

I hope to continue to foster a learning environment at the University of Pennsylvania for the remainder of my time here. I intend to employ the skills and values I received from Gush in all my future Torah endeavors. 


Jonty Sidney

Jonty Sidney2I believe that leadership is simply being true to yourself and the ideals that you believe in. It is not something extra that you do. It is being proud of what you are and what you stand for. People respect that self-confidence and belief. From my experiences in Bnei Akiva, I have found that you are able to affect more peoples’ lives if you are simply honest about who you are and what you stand for, than through grand gestures whose impact disappears in a matter of days. To sum it up into one phrase, I believe that leadership can be embodied in the term “Dugma Ishit” – a personal example. By showing others what Torah values in a modern world are by living them honestly will lead more people than deep, inspirational shiurim and events.


Leead Staller

Leead Staller2Leead Staller has been an active member of the Highland Park youth community for many years, serving as Gabbai and helping run events in the community. In his summers, he's worked at Moshava IO, both in the Beis Medrish and as a Madrich, taking advantage of every Chinuch oppurtunity he could. Since starting college in Penn, he's become involved in Greater Philly Bnei Akiva, lending a helping hand as a Bogeir. Additionally, along with other members of the Penn community, he has spearheaded a Mishmar in Kohelet, the local Yeshiva High School, where students from the local colleges come and give Chaburahs after school. Around Penn, he plays an active role in the Talmud Torah community, taking advantage of the numerous opportunities to teach Torah. Along with fellow Gush Alumni in Penn, Leead has been at the forefront of Night Seder at Penn, a new Night Seder program geared towards creating a community of serious Talmud Torah.


Jonathan Swartz

Jonathan Swartz2From Los Angeles, Jonathan Swartz is a junior at Cornell University where he is double majoring in Comparative Literature and Religious Studies. During the current academic year, Jonathan is studying abroad at the University of Cambridge in the UK. Prior to starting Cornell –– after graduating from YULA Boys High School –– Jonathan was a talmid of the Yeshiva in 2010-11. 

At Cornell, during his sophomore year, Jonathan served as the Advocacy Chair on the executive board of the Cornell Israel Public Affairs Committee. In that capacity, he prepared educational material and brought speakers to campus, which addressed important political, social and religious issues relating to Israel. Last year, Jonathan also served as Cornell’s MASA Israel Campus Intern. Drawing upon his formative year at the Yeshiva, Jonathan shared his experience of learning in Israel to cultivate peer relationships with students to help recruit them to study in Israel. 

Jonathan has also served as the Vice President of Communications and Recruitment for the Center for Jewish Living on campus. As a member of Cornell Hillel’s Religious Life and Education Committee, Jonathan helped plan Jewish religious and educational events that could serve the larger campus community. 

Jonathan currently plans to pursue a PhD and to eventually teach at the university level. He hopes to be a leader in higher education, Jewish life and talmud torah on college campuses in general.


Gabi Weinberg

Gabi Weinberg2Gabi Weinberg grew up in Queens, New York and is currently finishing his B.A. at Yeshiva University’s Jay and Jeannie Schottenstein Honors Program with a Major in English with a Minor in Economics. In his third year at Yeshiva he served as president of the Student Organization of Yeshiva – Jewish Studies Council that represents the entirety of the Yeshiva College men’s campus student body, including the Rabbinical students. He currently serves in his third year as the Teen Program Director at the Young Israel of Scarsdale, as he begins his Semikha at RIETS and M.A. in Jewish History at the Bernard Revel Graduate School. Gabi also works as a tutor for Door-to-Door Tutoring teaching students Hebrew reading and preparation for their Bar Mitzvah’s. Gabi also interned at the Affordable Jewish Education Project last summer, a startup-non-for-profit working to ameliorate the tuition crisis in Jewish day schools. 


Adam Weisel

Adam Weisel2My experience in yeshiva inspired me in a lot of ways. However, probably more than anything else, it gave me a immense appreciation for the power of chinuch. This changed the way I viewed things like being a counselor in camp. I came to realize how powerful an influence I was on my 15 year old campers and tried my best to instill in them a love of תורה, ה', שמירת הלכה, and ארץ ישראל.

Additionally, I am currently one of the gabbaim of the Orthodox Community at Penn; a community consisting about about 200 Jews on the secular campus. In that role, beyond just organizing minyanim and technicalities, we view ourselves as having a pulse on the religious state of the community and making sure things move in positive directions.

This year I have helped initiate a new program at Kohelet High School in Philadelphia along with my chavruta Leead Staller. After speaking to Rabbi Tzvi Sinensky, four of us (2 guys and 2 girls) have been giving over chaburot for an hour a week during their mishmar program.

Finally, last year I helped start the Night Seder at Penn (NSP) program, and this year, things have really taken flight. I've been working along with some close friends in trying to expand NSP's reach to create a community of תלמוד תורה with an atmosphere that fosters that learning.