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Creating Individual Opportunities
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There has long been a need for special attention yeshiva opportunities and programs for young men. Rabbi Salfer has said, “We can’t wait until a boy feels like he has failed before we find him a yeshiva for his needs. There is a short window that we have to reach him. Successfully identifying his talents and needs early on and challenging him appropriately, while giving him the opportunity to feel success in what he likes, will give him what to continue building on for life.”
Yeshivas Doresh is for learning challenged high school aged young men, who have challenges with kriah (reading), havanah (comprehension), or classroom attention/concentration. The students come from around the United States and Canada and live in Miami most of the school year. Rabbi Dr. Salfer has developed various techniques to help them develop skills so that they are able to feel comfortable davening, reading from the Torah (leining), writing, learning Gemara, and also enjoying it.
The yeshiva’s inception is an interesting story. Rabbi Salfer originally opened Yeshivas Doresh in Cleveland, after having learned in the Cleveland Telshe Kollel for fourteen years.While Rabbi Salfer always had as a goal to open the Yeshiva, the real push came from the desire of one 13-year-old student, who felt that he needed a yeshiva to be established for his needs. “Each day he would ask me when I was going to start it,” says Rabbi Salfer. “Until finally one day he asked what needed to be done to get it started and organized a meeting with a group of interested parents for me to meet with.” .
How the Yeshiva came to Miami is also interesting. Rabbi Salfer had repeatedly been invited by the previous rabbi of the Beit David Highland Lakes Shul, Rabbi Moshe Rothchild, to move to Miami and be an active part of the new BDHLS building that was near completion. “How many out-of-town shuls can boast of having a yeshiva in their midst and part of their community? It will be like a year-round SEED program,” said Rabbi Rothchild. Today Yeshivas Doresh is in the Miami Highland Lakes community, in the Bucharian Ner Avraham Shul. The community has opened up their doors and hearts to the bochorim (boys) of Yeshivas Doresh, through inviting them to their homes, family simchas, providing furniture for the dormitory (which a lakefront house in the community), bicycles, sports equipment, (even a paddleboat), dinners, etc.
Yeshivas Doresh has a vocational program for the talmidim. There are very few yeshivas which offer this kind of training. Rabbi Salfer’s mantra is that, “As there are needs of the students, the Yeshiva must seek to provide for those needs. One hallmark of Yeshivas Doresh is that we seek to develop good community laymen who are Torah true, as well as prepared to support their families. Our responsibility is also to give them the skills to earn a living. For more information about the vocational program and our English curriculum: Click Here
The goal is to develop a person who will be able to and will enjoy learning also during the rest of his life and be an active community person. As part and parcel of this goal, Yeshivas Doresh offers the students a full high school general studies curriculum, as well as vocational training opportunities so that each young man feels prepared to take the next step in his growth. Social skills training is integrated in the Yeshiva to groom each student to be equipped for his involvement in the community. For example, the students are encouraged to welcome people and introduce themselves properly. Training includes responsibility for cleanliness, organization, speech, handwriting, etc., in the Yeshiva, dormitory and everywhere in the public eye.
Yeshivas Doresh has been successful in creating a model that has reached so many boys and has given them the necessary tools to succeed in life. Rabbi Salfer has said that Yeshivas Doresh can be replicated elsewhere and, more importantly, many of the components that are key to their success can be easily modified and integrated in what already exists in many other schools and mesivtas. “Certain techniques can immeasurably help many young men in schools, without changing much to the system,” says Rabbi Salfer.
The bochorim recently began giving classes and posting them online. This has begun a way to offer an opportunity for the students to begin entering the role as a teacher and to feel that they have what to contribute.
The Yeshiva trains the students to be able to lead the davening services, read from the Torah, be the Gabbai, etc., whatever is needed to be an active community person. They even run their own minyan for Rosh Hashana with the boys leading the majority of the service. Yoel Muken from Cleveland, was trained by Rabbi Salfer to blow the Shofar and almost never had to repeat any of the blasts. He said, “I remember when I first came to the Yeshiva five years ago and we went on a trip to Lakewood during that first Elul semester. Rabbi Salfer had taught us how to blow shofar and when we davened in theSatmer Shteiblach, I blew the shofar after our minyan. Every one of the forty or more people in that minyan needed me that day. I will never forget."