Tuesday, December 4, 2007
My Unexciting (early) Life
(Telzer Yeshivah in Cleveland, that's NOT me in the pic)
I was asked by a commenter here why I never say anything nice about the Yeshivos I learned in or my father did for that matter. That - according to his logic - is proof that I'm also an ingrate who has this unbridled hate for everything not Lubavitch. Nothing can be further from the truth, as anybody that knows me can testify to. Yes, there were times that I was made to feel inferior by the powers that be because of my connection to Lubavitch (and nothing else) but never did I take that any further than the person or people involved, and in many case I laughed it off as childish on their part and not worth bearing a grudge at all, especially seeing from whom those comments came from. Being that my blog is not here to expose people for what they did years ago, but rather to discuss issues, so this discussion will also not turn into an expose' of people who "hurt my feelings." I'm not someone who's haunted by abuse or things of that nature, so there's really nothing like that that you can point to and say that this was where it all began, as many are wont to do when someone changes his life's direction. What we can do is discuss my general history, anecdotes and instances and see if we understand them the same way. I do hope that those involved in my life are ok with me mentioning them, albeit in a round about way.
My father's Telsher experience mirrors that of many hundreds of other Talmidim, namely that they don't consider themselves Telshers today. He was a child of 13 years old when his parents put him on the train from Chicago and he traveled with his very Hungarian mother to the Yeshivah in Cleveland. The first 3-4 years were spent at the Mechinah - which is what the Mesivta is called - under the tutelage of such Yidden as Reb Eizik Ausband, in whose home he slept for 2 years. He had the privilege of spending time with such luminaries as Reb Chaim Stein, LBCL"C Reb Mordche Gifter, Reb Pesach Stein, Reb Boruch Sorotzkin, and Reb Mottel Katz. My whole life is filled with anecdotes from "Yeshivah," which is basically short for Telshe. With some of those he had good relationships, and with some they were not so great, as is usually the case with any Bochur in any Yeshivah. There were other, less famous personalities there that he also speaks fondly of; Rabbi Davis, Reb Meir Zelig Mann, Rabbi Helfand, Rabbi Hildesheim and others. He was there for the famous fire in the winter of '62 and for the visits of Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshivah who would visit the Yeshivah on their trips and stops in Cleveland. A year or so later the branch was founded in Chicago, and 2-3 years later he was called home to continue his studies near home. In Chicago there was 4 more years in Telshe and there were Reb A C Levin, Reb Chaim Shmelcer, Reb C D Keller among others.
Despite spending all of his formative years in Litvishe Telshe he never did become a "Telsher." Yes, we're on the alumni list of both branches and receive candles, honey, Charoses, and tapes of all kinds of Droshos, Shmuessen etc. from all the Roshei Yeshivah past and present, but it never did permeate his being like it did for many others. Other past Talmidim make every effort to be back in Yeshivah for the Yomim No'Roim, and even bentsh in the special Telsher Nusach, my Tatte ZGZ doesn't. Others davened in the Telsher Minyan in BP, we davened across the street, it so happens, not that we were avoiding the shul, c"v, that's just how it worked out. My father has many friends from Yeshivah that he's still very friendly with today that are just the same way, they never became Telshers, and their kids probably know much less about Telshe than I do. In any case, having said that, when my father married my mother, a girl of similar Hungarian background, he moved to New York and soon needed to find a place to educate his children. The girls had started out in Bobov and continued in Margareten, Beis Aizik Tzvi and Bais Yaakov,, but the boys had no place yet. So my Tatte asked a Telsher friend who already had a son in Cheder and he advised a Chassidisher Cheder in Boro Park that was named after a Transylvania town - Spinka. This decision had a profound impact on my entire immediate family and changed our life's course, I think.
Enough for one day, More later iy"h.