Yeshiva Week

January 17, 2013 – January 24, 2013

My Week at the Boca Raton Synagogue – BRS

BRS Shabbos Bulletin – Parshat Bo

Yeshiva Week – noun.

Celebrated to its fullest in Florida.

You’ve heard of New Year’s break, mid-winter break, and even Spring Break… but what about Yeshiva Week? This is the week when Jewish schools have off and it usually falls around mid-January – this year, it falls around the week of January 19th – January 29th.

Thursday – January 17, 2013

Took the 7:00 PM Southwest flight to Fort Lauderdale with my wife and daughter.  Went to visit our daughter and family in Boca Raton.

Friday – January 18, 2013

Took my wife to the Kosher market.  They have a magnificent selection of prepackaged salads, fishes, and other delicious foods. It was mobbed.   Got ready for Shabbos.

Shabbos Friday Night – Parshas Bo – January 18th

Went to Shul Friday night at the Boca Raton Synagogue.  The Shul was packed with few empty seats. I would estimate that there were 400 men and 100 women.  After davening, announcements were made and the first thing said was welcome to “Yeshiva Week”.  This is the first time I heard this phrase.  The Yeshivas have winter break every year during the third week of January, which incorporates Martin Luther King Jr. day.  In Florida it is called Yeshiva Week and all of the schools are on vacation from left to right.

Went home and had the Shabbos meal.  Delicious Shabbos food.  Slept for a few hours and got up.  I decided to take a Shabbos walk around Montoya Circle.  Very few people about at 11:00 PM.  I did meet a woman and some kids who were from Albany, NY.  Got home and learned Daf Yomi.  I was stuck for three days on the 12th Perek of Shabbos, HaBonah, and used the solitude of Shabbos to fight through my road block.

Shabbos Morning – Parshas Bo – January 19th – Three Classes and one Speech

Danny, my son-in-law, davened at the Neitz Minyan at BRS.   I got to Shul at 8:15 AM, late for the Hashkama minyan which started at 7:25 AM.  I arrived right before the reading of the Torah portion and decided to listen to Krias Hatorah – the Torah reading.    I said the Shachris Shomei Esray as the Hashkama minyan was davening Mussaf.   It was now 9:05 AM.  I went upstairs to listen to the Ba’al Shem Tov Shiur given right before the Shtiebal minyan.  At 9:30 AM, I went downstairs to listen to Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda’s Shiur in the Board room.   Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda asked a question: Why is there so much emphasis on the 10 Makos, who translates as plagues (even though Makos really means hits)?  The Seder’s emphasis should only be on the fact that we were slaves, God redeemed us, and we are free.   There was quite a bit of discussion.  After the Shiur I mentioned to Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda that I spoke to Chazzan Moshele Kraus.  He was excited as Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda enjoys Chazzunus and has met Chazzan Moshele Kraus.  Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda knows the song I needed from Chazzan Kraus.

After the Shiur, I went into the main Shul (10:45 AM) to listen to Rabbi Efrem Goldberg’s speech.  Great Drasha – speech.   Rabbi Goldberg talked about Mantei Teo and Lance Armstrong.  They were selfish, narcissistic, win at all costs – especially Lance Armstrong.  They did not care who got hurt and in the case of Lance Armstrong, tried to bully anyone who challenged him.   The Torah in Parshas Bo talks about the ninth plague, the plague of Darkness.   Not only was it the absence of light, the Darkness was a thick substance.   The Darkness froze people at the position they were in at the time the plague hit.  Rabbi Goldberg mentioned the explanation of the Torah Temimah, that Darkness was cataracts, the people were blinded.  Rabbi Goldberg then said a homiletic explanation of the Chidushei HaRim,  which wrapped everything together.  The Torah presenting the plague of darkness states:

23. They did not see each other, and no one rose from his place for three days, but for all the  children of Israel there was light in their dwellings.

The Chidushei HaRim say that – Darkness is when people live in their own world – they are selfish, everything is about their needs, their happiness,  and “They do not see each other” – they  do not see the pain and suffering of others.  This is Darkness in society.

Rabbi Efrem Goldberg ended his speech by reading part of one of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s sermons.

Great – great speech.

Afterwards I mentioned to Rabbi Goldberg that Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda is a cousin to the Torah Timimah.

Went home for the Shabbos meal.  Learned Daf Yomi with my son in law.  At about 5:30 PM went back to Shul for prayer services.  Between Mincha and Maariv I listened to Rabbi Ben Sugerman’s Daf Yomi Shiur.

Motzai Shabbos

After Shabbos, we walked 1 mile to Mentchies for ice cream.  Sat down outside the shop.  Three couples from Century City of Deerfield Beach sat down.  I started playing Jewish geography with them.  They had family related to Dr. David Rothner.  My son-in-law is related to Dr. David Rothner.  They also had family related to Rabbi Eli Gottlieb, who was a Rebbe at Skokie Yeshiva.  I was best friends with Rabbi Gottlieb’s  son growing up.  I told them that my last name is Morgenstern.  They told me that their downstairs neighbor is Kaufman and that his mother was a Morgenstern, and a descendent of the Kotzker Rebbe.  They called Mr. Kaufman for me and we had a 20 minute conversation.  We made up to meet during the week.   I continue to amaze myself how good I am at Jewish geography  I was excited because about a year ago I heard that there was a Kaufman in Chicago years ago who owned Kaufmans bakery and was a Morgenstern.  There is a Kaufmans Bakery in the suburbs and I was unsuccessful when I tried to contact the owner

I could not sleep so about 12 midnight I took a walk to the Shul.  The Shul plays Jewish music at its outside entrance.  They also have a Holocaust memorial garden.  I sat down on the bench in the memorial garden, listened to the music and contemplated.   I called my sister Karen in New York and we talked.

Sunday, January 20th – Two Classes

Went to the 7:00 AM Daf Yomi Shiur and prayed at the 8:00 AM minyan.  Attended Rabbi Menachem Genack’s Chaburah – advanced Torah Lecture, and also attended his community lecture on Kashrus issues given after the Chaburah.   Rabbi Menachem Genack is the CEO of the OU’s Kosher Division. Rabbi Genack also talked about the greatness of Rabbi Eliezer Silver.   Rabbi Genack was in the Rov’s Shiur when the Rov annoucned that he will finish the class early, so th eRov can travel to Cincinnati to attend the funeral of Rabbi Eleizer Silver.   After the community lecture  I met  Mr. Malinowitz.    He is about 85, grew up on the lower east side, and knew my uncle, Rabbi Yosef Maza, TZL and Rabbi Yosef Maza’s parents.  He also knows my Aunt Shirley.   He was good friends with Jackie Mason and remembers Jackie Mason telling jokes on Broadway in the lower east side.  His nephew is married to a daughter of the late Rabbi Bernard Maza.  When Jackie Mason performs in Florida he attends and then goes backstage to say hello.

Sunday afternoon we took the kids to the Hollywood boardwalk.  We walked along the boardwalk, had the kids play in a play area by the mermaid and found a Yogurt place, proudly displaying the OU  Kashrus symbol.  From the boardwalk we drove to Tower 41 to go to dinner with my mother, sister, and her family.  Great dinner.  We were able to watch the end of the Baltimore-New England football game.  I met a couple and their kids from Argentina.  I tried to make a connection but could not.  After the meal we met a group visiting from Toronto for Yeshiva week.  They live in Thornhill, Ontario, daven in the Baytt,  and carpool their son with my niece and her son to Yeshiva Derech Hatorah in Toronto.

Monday – January 21st – Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday

Attended Daf Yomi.  I attended some of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda’s class.  Spoke to a Dr. Landa.  He learned by the Rov.  We took the kids to Sugarsand Park.  The park is phenomenal.  It has a huge play area and a very nice indoor center.   There were many families at the park.  I was watching my granddaughter Tiferath who is special needs.  I spoke to a  Lubavitcher family whose oldest son has Asperger’s.  They have him attending Hebrew Academy, however, it is difficult.  They are considering sending him to the South Florida Jewish Academy,  This is the first I heard about this school.  The video on their web site is worth seeing.  My cousins are in the video.

Took the kids for pizza.  Went with Danny for Mincha /Maariv.  Spoke to Rabbi ______.  He was learning with his son.  I asked him the one question about the one missing item from BRS.  Why isn’t there a Kollel?  He said there was one until the downturn in the real estate market hit.  I asked why don’t they bring in a Kollel and have an Executive Director who will be responsible for fundraising as is done in Chicago.  He said it is a discussion and did not have the time.

Tuesday – January 22 – 1 Class  

Attended Daf Yomi.  Took Shoshana to work and Tiferat to school.  At 11:00 AM took the family to the South Florida County Fair in West Palm Beach. Saw quite a few families at the fair on vacation during Yeshiva week.  I listened to a band playing music from the sixties and seventies, the music I grew up with.  The people listening were all 60 and above.

People of the Book Lecture – Rambam Morah Nevuchim

Went to BRS at 8:15 PM to attend the People of the Book  lecture.  Tonight’s installment was on the Rambam – Moreh Nevuchim by Rabbi Yosef Kassorla.

R. Menachem Mendel of Kotzk said, when he saw a chassid glancing at Moreh Nevuchim: “For someone who’s filled himself with Shas and poskim, it’s a Moreh; if not, it’s Nevuchim.”

I was blown away by the Shiur.  Informative, scholarly.  Rabbi Kassorla said that Morah Nevuchim  was meant only for the Talmudic scholars, the intellectuals, which is what the Kotzker said.   Rabbi Kassorla knows my nephews, the Schwartz boys.  Rabbi Kassorla is a Talmud of Reb Aaron Lichtenstein.  I told Rabbi Kassorla that he should talk to Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer.

Wednesday – January 23, 2012 – 1 Class

Attended Daf Yomi.  Took my daughter to work and Tiferat to school.  Went to the Shul and sat in the Board room to work.  Went home to see if everything was okay and then went back to the Shul to attend the Lunch and Learn given by Yosef Sebag.  He is with the Zionist Organization of America.  Very informative lecture.  I did not agree with everything he said, but I greatly appreciated the history of Israel and the need to constantly defend Israel.

My sister, Lisa, came at 1:30 and we went to visit Yaakov Yosha Kaufman.   Yaakov Yosha Kaufman is a third cousin to my father.  My sister came with her husband, son Naftali, and my mother.  My brother – in –law went to visit a friend who is in a nursing home in Boca and my mother came  to spend time with my kids.

A 19200 – A19461 – What is in a number?

Mr. Kaufman shared a number of stories about how his childhood had been in Auschwitz.  His number is A19200 and my father’s number was A19461.  Eerie, only 261 numbers apart,


Rabbi Yaakov Yosha Morgenstern
Oldest son of Reb Dovid – born 1839, died 1907

  1. Yosef  Ber Morgenstern
  2. Daughter – Chaya Toba –married Yosef Ber Kaufman
  3. Son  – Yaakov Yosha Kaufman

Rabbi Chaim Yisroel M’ Pilav
Second son of Reb Dovid – born 1840, died 1906

  1. Reb Tzvi Hersh Morgenstern – Lukover Rebbe
  2. Son – Rabbi Avrohom Meir Morgenstern
  3. My father, Yisroel Yaakov Morgenstern
  4. Myself and my sisters

Yaakov Kaufman told me that he remembers my father from the late 1940s when my father was single and my father would visit his uncle in Queens.  Yaakov Yosha’s sister lived in Chicago for a number of years and my mother was good friends with her.  The hour and a half went quickly.  Yaakov Yosha Morgenstern is writing his life story. We met his daughter who is visiting from New York.

Drove home and went to dinner at the Boca Pita Express.  Good food.  My brother – in –law had Yahrzeit for his sister so he went to BRS to daven.  The Shul was packed and he sat down with Naftali at a table.  During Davening he looks at the person on the other side of Naftali, knows him, but could not place him.  After davening they say hello and Sidney realizes that the man is his Mechutan’s father from Boro Park.   Had my brother –in –law sat at a different table he would not have recognized his Mechutan.  As they say it was Bashert.

My mother stayed with us and I drove her back to Miami at 8:30 PM.

Thursday, January 24th

Went to Daf Yomi, took Shoshana to work, and Tiferat to school.  Took the kids to Kohls to purchase clothes from our grandchildren.  Drove to the airport for our 6:00 PM flight.

Yeshiva week is over.


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