What makes the Yeshivas Aish Kodesh different

by | Jun 7, 2012 | Other News

When friends from outside the community ask me what is different about teaching at an Orthodox Jewish boys’ high school, usually they are most curious about the religious aspects of the school. As a general studies teacher, I could easily answer that I don’t teach in the Judaic studies portion of the school, and therefore that religion has little to do with what I teach. But the fact is that at the Yeshivas Aish Kodesh, the religious mission of the school illuminates and shapes all we do, even in general studies.

My students spend large portions of their day studying and practicing their faith. This may not seem unusual, or even exceptional, but it is. In my experience, students tend to focus their energies on two things. First, they participate in activities that will help gain admission to college. They work at their grades, join clubs, or run for student government. Second, and not a distant second, they like to do things that are fun: sports and other extracurricular activities. I taught for several years in Baltimore and my students there raised their devotion to lacrosse to a near religious fervor. At the Yeshiva, the students still work hard with college in mind and play sports, but their daily focus is on their Torah study.

The students at the Yeshivas Aish Kodesh do not do their study away from the world. They do not lead lives of isolation. Their study and worship takes place in the world and, specifically, in our community. Torah study not only requires support from the community at large, it requires active engagement on the parts of both the students and the students and the community. The relationship between “town and gown,” which in many places are separate and at times contentious, is more harmonious. The community appreciates what the students, and their study, are all about.

At the Yeshivas Aish Kodesh we see this in the fact that so many people who do not have sons at the yeshiva know the students. When I attend events in the community, I am surprised and delighted by how many people know the yeshiva students, even those who have come from away.

The yeshiva also receives incredible support from community organizations such as the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. Over the years, the yeshiva has received several grants that provided new textbooks and new technology to help our teaching. This year, one of those grants provided a Smartboard that will greatly assist in the teaching of math and science. The Federation also organizes conferences and events for teachers that help further our development as teachers in a religious school.

The community, which is central to the school, and which the mission of the school seems to mandate, makes the Yeshivas Aish Kodesh different from other schools at which I have taught. I feel more a part of the community here, and therefore feel a greater responsibility to my work in this community, but also a greater sense of respect for the community. I take great pride in teaching at the Yeshivas Aish Kodesh.

by Dr. Brian Brennan, English teacher, Talmudical
Academy of Norfolk

Yeshivas Aish Kodesh is a constituent agency
of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.