Many people believe their growth ends once they move back to America. There is a fear of only surviving but not striving in ones Yiddishkite. The Edison Chabura is a program specifically designed to allow the growth process to continue. With the help of Rabbi Billowitz, my peers, and the community, I have experienced nothing but success. Anybody who has been a part of this program would readily attest to its prosperity. My connection to Hashem, friends, and continue community has been strengthened because of my experience here. I could not imagine a smoother transition!
The Edison Chabura has been critical in my return to the states. I found a safe place to land, good friends, and a supportive mentor. The learning program has been fundamental in creating a foundation for me to build the rest of my life on. I can honestly say, the transition coming back has been made so much smoother thanks to this program.
The chabura is a life-savor for me. As a baal teshuva returning from yeshiva in Israel, I did not have a support system to help with my transition back to the States. I would have been on my own--which is why my decision to join the chabura program has been absolutely key to maintain and further my growth in Torah and yiddishkite. As a part of the program, I am surrounded by other growth-oriented baale teshuva. We have sedar each night followed my mussr schmooze, with dedicated rabbeiem and mentors. One of my favorite aspects of the program is that the Edison/Highland-Park community knows who we are, and they invite us for Shabbos meals and other simchas, making us feel welcome and at home in the community. In short, I feel very lucky to be a part of the chabura, and would highly recommend it to any motivated baal teshuva.
When I was planning to return to the US after spending two years in yeshiva in Jerusalem, I told one of my rebbeim about the "chabura." I explained that I was split between returning to my home or to join the chabura. He replied that you would have to be "stupid" not to join this program. My rabbi was completely right. The chabura is an environment of growth and the ideal place to make the transition from yeshiva to life in America. We are led by our wonderful and dynamic Rabbi Billowitz and are located in a community that welcomes each member with overflowing love and support. Such special places as this chabura are not common.
I am now in my second year at the chabura, and cannot overstate not only how crucial the chabura is, but also how beneficial. An organized learning seder Sunday through Thursday, a house of growth-oriented post-yeshiva guys, and a dedicated rav. In addition to all of this, Rabbi Billowitz has arranged for shadchanim to meet with us, and we have met success on this front as well, with two out of seven members of the chabura getting married before the end of the first year, another one earlier this year, and a fourth coming up at the end of March. IY"H, many more to come. Finally, the bochurs have recently established a Motzei Shabbos self improvement vaad, where we meet unofficially for Melave Malkah and discussing the difficulties in our lives that we face, what we are doing to overcome them, and seeking both advice and support from our fellow chabura members. Finding the balance between work/school and learning can be difficult. The Edison Chabura can help.
Gentleman! You should be blessed and these words should find you warmly.
Very simply put, there are many challenges that any growing individual wishing to successfully transition back to life in the States must overcome in order to ensure a healthy, safe and spiritually infused future. Community, leadership, camaraderie and love life are all areas that each and every individual should be focused upon when returning. The Edison Chabura nearly miraculously provides an unbelievable foundation and infrastructure to help a returning individual succeed in each of these aspects.
Let us start by examining the community. As I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and finished Law School in Manhattan at NYU prior to yeshiva, I was certainly apprehensive about establishing myself in the Edison/Highland Park area of New Jersey. However, I can assure you that each and every fear that I had proved to be insignificant. Any worry that I would miss the hustle and bustle of the City or that a commute to NYC would prove difficult was completely off base. In terms of commute, the train (conveniently located 2 minutes away via car or Uber or 15-20 minutes via walk) proved to be the same travel as if I lived in Queens or Brooklyn or Long Island except in a nicer train and environment for learning or resting. Similarly, the City proves to be close enough to take advantage of the attractions while not getting lost in the distractions. Of much more importance however is the unbelievable gem of a community that Highland Park is now and is continuing to develop into. As the community is home to real yirei shamayim, as well as Jews from all backgrounds, the community is one that bleeds genuine commitment to Avodas Hashem while at the same time providing a type of tolerant and inclusive feel to Jews from all walks of life. It seemingly is tailored made to welcome back individuals like us!
From a leadership perspective, it is only because of my close relationship with him that I restrain myself from offering lavish praise for Rabbi Billowitz for his unwavering commitment to the community as a whole and the members of his Chabura in particular. I believe it to be a grave misfortunate for any individual to underestimate the importance of a Rav in his or her life. From the bottom of my heart, I cannot even begin to express to you the unbelievable commitment that Rabbi Billowitz exhibits for his talmidim. Any individual that joins the Chabura very, very quickly realizes that the man will go to any length to help any of us in any and every way that we could use assistance.
Similarly, for an individual seeking to maintain or develop himself, it is a huge advantage to be surrounded by like-minded, growing and inspired individuals. This is the environment that the Chabura fosters. Individuals that simply care are brought together to foster a dynamic environment of growth, support, warmth and cooperation. The value of this is immeasurable.
Finally, we are getting married left and right. I need not say more on that front, but…
I’m engaged as I write these words…
She lives two blocks away in Edison.
Hashem should bless you all and take you where is best for you. I believe that for many of you that place is The Edison Chabura.
With sincere hope for continued growth for each one of you,