Warm, vibrant, a growing makom Torah– these are some of the descriptions that come to mind when picturing the community of Boca Raton, Florida. The development in Boca has been explosive, with over a hundred families moving in this year. What is attracting so many to become part of this community? Several ingredients combined form a delectable recipe: the draw of the wonderful shuls, schools, balmy weather, and the Kollel.
Three years ago, in 2019, the Boca Raton Kollel opened its doors. At the first night seder, three people came to the bais medrash that was half the size of the current one, and not much programming was underway. Now, during night seder, eighty people are there on any given night, learning strong. The atmosphere pulses with enthusiasm, a teeming bais medrash filled with energetic chevrusos and inspiring shiurim.
The Kollel has established a variety of programs to benefit the varied facets of the community, including: a mechanchim kollel geared to the mechanchim of different schools, a retiree kollel learning mesechtas Brachos in the mornings, a pre-shacharis Kollel followed by a Daf Yomi shiur after shacharis, a teen Kollel for the teenagers in the community, a Sunday morning program with breakfast and a shiur, a Kinyan Mesechta shiur, an Iyun Chaburah, Yarchei Kallah, and other wonderful initiatives. Many young families benefit from the Kollel, and its impact on the community has been transformative.
With siyata dishmaya, the Kollel has purchased housing for the new yungeleit who will, b’ezras Hashem, be joining the Kollel in the coming year. Surely, their arrival will further enhance the progression of Torah and avodah within the community.
A strong kesher exists between the Kollel, Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt, and Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim. Rabbi Grunblatt was the driving force that started the Kollel, and he continues to be intimately involved with the Kollel’s growth and direction. The Kollel is also connected with the Lakewood yeshiva and enjoys a warm relationship with Rav Dovid Schustal.
From the beginning stages, Reb Ari Stern from Lakewood has been involved in the Kollel. He helped the Kollel become established in the community and has remained a major supporter ever since, not only financially. “He has pushed us to continuously raise our vision higher, to continue to expand and accomplish,” says Rabbi Dovid May.
Somach Zevulun b’tzaisecha vi’Yissocher be’ohalecha. Reb Ari is involved in the business world, yet, like Zevulun, he channels his assets towards Torah. In addition, he somehow manages to incorporate the Yissocher aspect, as well, and spends most of his days learning! In appreciation for all that Reb Ari and his wife, Rochel Leah, have contributed and continue to provide, the Kollel was renamed in memory of Reb Ari’s grandparents, The Mordechai HaKohen and Blima Kahn z”l Boca Raton Kollel.
On Sunday evening, November 14th, a beautiful gathering was held in celebration of the momentous renaming. The event was graced by the presence of two gedolei Torah, Rav Dovid Schustal, rosh yeshiva of Lakewood, and Rav Akiva Grunblatt, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim. To set the tone, Rav Dovid Schustal delivered a shiur on Ner Chanukah mehadrin min hamedhadrin which over one hundred men attended. After the shiur, everyone proceeded to the outdoor, clear tent so beautifully illuminated in honor of the occasion. Three hundred and fifty people turned out for the event, exceeding all expectations, demonstrating heartfelt gratitude and endorsement of the Kollel.
After an elegant dinner to honor the kevod shomayim of this special occurrence, Rabbi Dovid May, rosh kollel, spoke about the significant growth and exceptional attributes of Reb Ari Stern. Rabbi Nachman Luban, rosh kollel, then focused on the momentous kiddush Hashem shown by so many who joined together in an outpouring of support and appreciation of Torah. Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt addressed the powerful hashpa’ah of a Kollel on a community, highlighting that so many have chosen to move to Boca because of the Kollel. Last, Reb Ari discussed the sterling attributes of his grandparents and the strong connection between their aspirations in Torah and Yiddishkeit and the accomplishments of the Kollel. Reb Ari’s grandparents founded HASC, an organization devoted to children with special needs. Surmounting major challenges, Reb Mordechai and Blima perpetuated the mesorah for their own family as well as for thousands of students who have benefitted from HASC. With determination and fortitude, they planted seeds of Torah in fields that were barren, producing a verdant harvest for children who lacked resources. Like his grandparents, Reb Ari remarked, the Kollel, too, has overcome daunting challenges. In conjunction with all the other mosdos in town, they helped rejuvenate the city of Boca.
Culminating the evening on a high note, Shlomo Simcha played lively music to accompany the spirited dancing of the Kollel together with the community and the roshei yeshiva.
It was a night to remember, a momentous milestone- in the growth of the Kollel and the continued expansion of the thriving Boca Raton Torah community.
(article written by Rachel Stein)