After a Two-Year Hiatus, Torah Tours Has Returned
The Aaron and Blanche Schreiber Torah Tours program at Yeshiva University gives undergraduate men and women the chance to strengthen the holiday experience of 24 smaller Jewish communities across North America. Although Torah Tours hasn't occurred for the past two years due to the pandemic, this year it returned in full force. When I received an email in my inbox to participate, I, along with a hundred of my peers, jumped at the opportunity.
While I was excited to find out my own assignment, I had some reservations, because this was my first time doing Torah Tours, and I had chosen to go in completely blind. I didn’t request a specific community, nor a friend to travel with. When I got my sheet, it was a surprise — I got assigned to Beth Israel Congregation in Miami Beach.
I also got to meet the other member of my group, Shai Vadnai (YC ‘23), whom I had never met before. Over Yom Tov, as we were introducing ourselves to our hosts, he and I would also learn more about each other.
My worries about the intensity of the volunteering assignment proved unfounded. My time in Miami was nothing short of a vacation, with beautiful weather, delicious food and enthusiastic Jews. The community, as it turned out, was vibrant. Shai and I were there to keep up the energy mid-hakafot, but we were never alone in singing. We were supporting the congregants of Beth Israel.
Members of the program in other groups also enjoyed their experience. Yedidya Schechter (YC ‘24), who was assigned to Memphis, shared this enjoyment. It “was incredibly special to have the opportunity to be in an out of town extremely hospitable community with a great chevra,” he wrote to me about his experience in Memphis, adding that he appreciated the ability to “enhance others' Yom Tov by noticeably adding simcha and Torah to all those around us,” particularly through helping the community with the traditional dancing.
For others, it was a learning experience. “Getting to see a whole new community in a town I had never been to before really gave me perspective on how widespread we [Jews] are,” Kiki Arochas (YC ‘25) wrote. He visited Ner Tamid in Baltimore. He thought people appreciated the divrei Torah and ruach his team brought to the proceedings, and he appreciated learning more about their own unique situations and challenges that can arise in smaller communities.
Learning about the diversity of Jewish communities was a sentiment others shared. “It was an amazing opportunity to get to be a part of a community different from my own and be able to join in their Simchat Torah traditions and celebrations!” Avygayl Zucker (SCW ‘24) related about her experience in Albany.
Overall, Torah Tours was an absolute blast, and I, as well as others, am looking forward to future opportunities to help out in a meaningful way.
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Photo Caption: A Sefer Torah
Photo Credit: Yeshiva University