Expands In Amherst
a cool autumn afternoon in Cheshvan, 5759, Mesivta Menachem was born,
bringing the warmth of Torah to Amherst, NY.
is home to a small, yet enthusiastic Lubavitch community committed to
growth. Though Lubavitch is still among the smaller groups in this city
of 25,000 Jews, their presence is strongly felt. Just five years ago it
proudly opened the doors of the new Jewish Heritage Day School. Boruch
Hashem, the school has met with much success and is growing rapidly.
Encouraged by this achievement, a few active Baalei Batim dared to
entertain the notion of starting a new Yeshiva. This may be considered a
tremendous undertaking, especially in Amherst, which boasts a relatively
small observant community. As such, the proposal was greeted with
reluctance and reservations. However, with positive answers from the
Rebbe’s Igros Kodesh the dream began to materialize.
members of the community, who courageously took on the challenge,
formulated the current form of the idea just two years ago. Their
objective: to enhance the religious atmosphere currently being fed into
the city’s lifeline. The man to be the head of this bold attempt would
have to be a man as strong in his belief in chinuch as he is in his
attachment to the Rebbe, and the job was placed easily over the
responsible shoulders of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Munitz. Rabbi Munitz, with
a quarter century of teaching experience, has been known for his
influence on bochrim from any and every background.
the help of local philanthropists, a house - uniquely built, seemingly
with the Mesivta in mind - was acquired in the suburb of Amherst.
Located just across the street from the Jewish Discovery Center, run by
the renowned shliach and lecturer Rabbi Heschel Greenberg, it further
allows for easy interaction between shliach and future shluchim. On a
cool autumn afternoon in Cheshvan, 5759, Mesivta Menachem was born,
bringing the warmth of Torah to Amherst, NY.
is a picture-perfect American community, in fact rated as the safest
city in the US. With parks and recreational facilities just around the
corner, Gashmiyus was dealt with effortlessly. And, with able direction
by Rabbi Munitz, it seems that Ruchniyus, too, just develops naturally
here. Individual attention soon became his hallmark, and Hiskashrus to
the Rebbe MH”M becomes a matter of simple progression as soon as any
boy walks through the doors of the Mesivta. With kind encouragement,
balanced with strong discipline, the boys are guided in the proper
direction. At farbrengens and private one-on-ones the bochrim are
instilled with the true sense of what it means to be a chossid, and are
inspired to conduct themselves accordingly. They are also motivated to
collectively learn Maamarim and Sichos in preparation for the Mesivta
trip to the Rebbe for Yud Shvat, as well as the Mesivta’s birthday
present in honor of Yud Alef Nissan.
staff members assist Rabbi Munitz in his goal, each with his own
abilities well advanced: Rabbi Yehuda Lipskier, Yanky Majeski, Mendel
Munitz, Elie Estrin and Dr. Zev Zelenko. Each of them performs his job
with a skill truly inspiring for such young men. In addition, Rabbi
Heschel Greenberg gives a shiur klali once a week, and Rabbi Avrohom
Meir Shuman treats the boys to instruction in Seider Birkas ha’Nehenin.
A truly special experience is shared by students and staff alike, as
twice every month they attend an advanced shiur given by Rabbi Meir
Greenberg. One of the first Tmimim in America, he is the former Chief
Rabbi of Paterson, Rosh Yeshiva of the Rabbinical College in Morristown,
NJ, and a foremost Torah scholar.
begins Daily at 7:30am and ends at 9:15pm with breaks for wholesome
meals and relaxation from the rigorous learning. Twice a week the boys
enjoy an hour of swim and gym in well-equipped facilities. Of course,
following the Rebbe’s example, Chassidim never rest, many bochrim
spend their spare time learning with the dorm counselors and shluchim.
Another popular form of “relaxation” here is learning Tanya by
heart; to which rewards are distributed on a general and individual
basis. Incentives include trips such as to Niagara Falls, and a Skiing
Shabbaton, as well as monetary prizes. One boy has already earned $360
for learning the first twelve chapters by heart! The Mesivta plans on
reaching a collective goal for this year to learn 5,760 lines by heart!
the Mesivta’s remarkable success, Mr. Moshe Chodorow, the
Menahel Gashmi, commented at a recent board meeting, “Last year the
difficulty was putting together a group of fourteen boys. This year the
problem was choosing just nineteen boys from seventy applicants!”
community benefits ad infinitum from the presence of Mesivta. Mivtzoim
on Fridays reach the not-yet-religious, and those already in the fold
gain immeasurably by hosting the bochrim to Shabbos meals once a month.
Besides, many times members of the community join Mesivta’s
farbrengens to inspire and to be inspired.
unique addition to the yeshiva is the video library. Every Motzaei
Shabbos the boys watch videos of the Rebbe, and every other week, a
video is shown about the wonders of the Aibershter, whether it be in
human, animal or mineral life. The response from the bochrim is very
strong, for they have the keys to fulfill the instructive of the Rebbeim
to think about Hashem’s wonders of the world before davening every
S’farim library, a basic necessity in every yeshiva, was enhanced
considerably due to this year’s Torah-thon fundraiser, in which the
boys were able to purchase more than a thousand new S’farim! It seems
as though every day there is a new world of S’farim to go through as
they arrive, and the bochrim jump at the opportunities eagerly.
Rabbi Munitz is farbrenging, you may be certain that it’s revolving
around the topic of Moshiach. As the bochrim listen intensely, drinking
up every word, one cannot help but feel the genuine excitement of
someone truly living with Moshiach. Addressing the bochrim, Rabbi Munitz
speaks gently, yet with the force of truth. “You know that Moshiach
will soon be here. When he comes, we, his front line soldiers, will be
placed on stage in front of everyone. All the Yidden alive now, and all
those from the past, will be there. They will be looking at us in awe,
saying to each other ‘Wow! Look how lucky these soldiers are to be
part of Moshiach’s army! They are the ones who brought about
Moshiach’s revelation!’ Now just imagine if you are standing there
with a clean pressed uniform, buttons polished, covered with many
medals: how proud the Rebbe MH”M would be! Or, you could be standing
there with out any medals, no clean uniform, or… let’s not speak
about even worse. How would you feel then? You would want to run and
hide, but you will have to stand in front of everyone! Chevre, chapt
arein! Now is the time to make sure you are prepared befittingly.
Every thing you think, say or do has to be permeated with preparing to
greet Moshiach. If you work on yourselves during these remaining
seconds, you can give yourself a facelift! Your entire appearance will
be different! You will have the right to stand there, gazed upon by
everyone since Avrohom Avinu…” This in fact is the underlying theme
of Mesivta Menachem; placing constant emphasis on the Rebbe’s Nevua
that Moshiach will be revealed imminently. Being that this is
reality, we must start living with it!
stress placed on the subject of Moshiach is well taken. Here, Moshiach
is removed from the abstract. Through his knowledgeable and thorough
explanations, Rabbi Munitz scrubs off the layers of Galus mentality that
sometimes cover the youth of our generation. As the yeshiva finished the
Seifer “B’suras HaGeula” together the first time this year, Rabbi
Munitz gave a short, yet rousing, speech. “The Rebbe MH”M’s words
speak for themselves. The Rebbe kindly shared with us the good news that
the time of our geula has arrived, the work of Galus is completed and we
now stand in the days of Moshiach. We in turn must share this precious
knowledge with the rest of the world! Why hold back the exciting news?
Is it better to hear about school shootings?! Let them know that there
is a future; a future much greater than anyone’s wildest expectations!
People would rather hear the wonderful things, which are in store. The
Rebbe said they’re ready, so tell them all!” The message rings loud
and strong. Inspired, every day takes on new meaning with this outlook,
and the boys’ learning and characters shape accordingly.
the boys themselves prove that their teacher stands on solid ground: As
the Rebbe passes by this group, he will definitely be able to smile, and
say, “See the seedlings whom my shluchim have nurtured! A Yeshiva
truly fit for its name”