Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Article on BRISK!!!

It's way too long to post here.......But a great article indeed. Haaretz: Why has acceptance into the overcrowded, anti-Zionist Brisk Yeshiva in Jerusalem become the dream of every young ultra-Orthodox American man? Because of the charisma of its directors, scions of the powerful Soloveitchik family - and for its historical tradition of talmudic learning.On Mea She'arim Street in Jerusalem you can buy a baseball cap with an inscription that is meant as a subversive comment on the current yeshiva reality. "I got accepted to Brisk" the cap announces, "but I learn in the Mir." The "Brisk" that the cap is referring to - headed by Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Soloveitchik - is the most exclusive yeshiva in the world; American Haredim (ultra-Orthodox) are desperate "to get into Brisk." But unlike the ivy-covered buildings of Harvard or Yale, Brisk has few outward signs of prestige. Walking into the yeshiva, I am suddenly immersed in a crowd of young men trying to hear Reb Avraham Yehoshua's daily Talmud class. The room is too small to accommodate them: 40 of them have spilled into the hallway, which is framed by coat racks with rows of identical black hats and coats. Finally, Reb Avraham Yehoshua, outspoken, charismatic and known for his sharp tongue, finishes his lesson and departs with a last joke. The crowd laughs raucously. The Brisk Yeshiva looks like a hundred other Jerusalem institutions. And yet, increasingly over the last decade, reputations, careers - and, most significantly, marriages - hang on whether a young man is accepted there. "The day they announced who got in and who didn't," an American student told me, "a thousand young men were crying." "For an American, a lot depends on getting in," someone interjects. "If you want to get a top job, or marry the daughter of a wealthy man who will support you while you learn Torah, you have to get into Brisk." This year, Brisk has become even more crowded; during the last academic year Reb Yehoshua refused to accept new applicants. There was simply no room. Yeshiva heads in America became desperate. Over the last decade, the path of an American ultra-Orthodox male has included studies in an American yeshiva until age 20, and then three years in Israel, preferably at Brisk. Afterward, the young men return to America for marriage and another few years of study, often at the huge Lakewood Yeshiva in New Jersey. The reputation of the "feeder" yeshivas depends on their ability to gain their talented students' admission into Brisk. "If you don't let our boys into Brisk, we might as well close down our yeshivas," the American yeshiva heads cried out. Eventually, Reb Yehoshua caved in, and last fall let in 200 new American students...............
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