Talent. Dedication. Love for Torah.
Those who learn Torah at Yesodei HaTorah are fortunate to have relationships with an outstanding and caring group of educators. We are both proud and fond of our faculty who generously share both their Torah wisdom and insight with their talmidim (students). Like the student body itself, our instructors come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some spend their days in the business world, some are teachers, some are doctors, and some are full-time Torah scholars. Many of our educators have acquired their grounding in Torah at Baltimore’s Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, while others have gained their Torah knowledge and skills in such Yeshivos as Gateshead (England), the Mirrer Yeshiva, or Yeshivas Ohr Somayach (Jerusalem). What they all have in common is a love for sharing Torah with fellow Jews.
Rabbi Label Cooper
Since 1980, Rabbi Cooper has been steadily enhancing his learning technique. His love of Torah and many years of experience enable him to provide a highly dynamic shiur in which Chazal (the Rabbis of the Talmud and Mishna) literally come to life. Rabbi Cooper stresses that it is especially important in our era, (where we are so far in many ways from the time and circumstances of the Gemora) to try “to bring the Talmud home,” to relate it to things that are familiar in our own lives. Further, one should appreciate and marvel at the wisdom of our sages whose insights into the human psyche are timeless. Regarding his love of teaching for Yesodei HaTorah, Rabbi Cooper says, “I don’t think anyone gets one millionth of the pleasure that I get from the shiur.” Anyone attending his shiur knows that he puts in 110%.
Rabbi Zvi Goldberg
Rabbi Zvi Goldberg brings to YHT a special combination of Torah knowledge, teaching experience, and interpersonal skills. His Torah knowledge and style of learning were built over a period of 13 years while at Baltimore’s Yeshivas Ner Yisroel and Ner Yisroel Kollel. Rabbi Goldberg later moved to Silicon Valley, CA where he guided Jews from all backgrounds in his work as a pulpit Rabbi. Upon returning to Baltimore, he joined Baltimore’s Vaad HaKashrus, the “Star-K”. In this role, he is heavily involved in teaching and reaching out to the Jewish public: He writes policy for the Star-K “hotline”, answers difficult questions from callers to the Star-K “hotline”, and plans Star-K kashrus training classes. Despite his busy schedule, Rabbi Goldberg makes time to teach for Yesodei HaTorah. Rabbi Goldberg says, “I am awed by the dedication of people who have not had the opportunity to learn and in later years dedicate time to it, plugging away at the Gemara.” When teaching Torah, Rabbi Goldberg shows how words can be dissected to their roots, thus building valuable translation skills. He also stresses that students of Torah “need to review in order to grow in understanding and learning ability.”
Rabbi Tzvi Goode
Our esteemed Menahel, Rabbi Goode directs the development of the Yesodei HaTorah curriculum and methodology, guides its implementation, and sees to the many fund-raising and non-curricular necessities of running an educational institution. His mission for Yesodei HaTorah is to make the beauty and excitement of Torah study available to any Jew regardless of background. Rabbi Goode, is a musmach (ordained Rabbi) of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel. A talmid of both the Yeshiva’s founder, Rav Ruderman z”tl, and the late Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Weinberg z”tl, he learned in both the Beis Medrash and the Kollel for a total of 15 years. Through his work as director of Yesodei HaTorah, he continues the Torah-mission of his mentors. Says Rabbi Goode, “The whole process of learning . . . creates a special bond between the student and the Torah. My goal as both Menahel and instructor is to be ‘a catalyst’ for the students’ enjoyment of learning, to help them forge that bond with the Torah.” “When I see my talmidim understanding the Gemora, enjoying it, becoming excited, trying to find ways to make more time to learn, and making Torah more central in their lives; then I am energized and fulfilled.”
Rabbi Nosson Horowitz
Rabbi Horowitz began his advanced Torah education as a student at Yeshiva Beis Moshe of Scranton, PA. He continued his learning in both Beis Medrash and Kollel at Yeshivas Ner Yisroel of Baltimore, MD. For Rabbi Horowitz, the key to dynamic Torah study is learn how to “think like the Gemora,” master its viewpoint and logic, and thus understand how the Talmud approaches the world and draws its conclusions. He values his work with Yesodei HaTorah because this unique program is the only one that enables Jews to learn how to learn on their own.
Rabbi Chaim Pollack
A vibrant master of verbal communication, Rabbi Pollack’s solid grounding in Torah stems from the 9 years he spent in Baltimore’s Yeshivas Ner Yisroel (high school, Beis Medrash, & Kollel). When it comes to learning, Rabbi Pollack advises that the most critical factor is to ” . . . understand . . . the question that the Gemora is asking. . . . Why is this particular comment placed here?” Only with mastery of the “kasha” (question) can one truly comprehend the teretz (answer). Rabbi Pollack enjoys helping students grow: “I love seeing the progress. When someone really understands, all of a sudden, his face will light up: ‘Ooh, wow! That’s really a good question!’” An enthusiastic booster of Yesodei HaTorah’s educational mission, he feels that Yesodei HaTorah is “a very valuable commodity”; such a program to build Torah study among working people “just didn’t exist when I was growing up.”
Rabbi Ephraim Spero
Rabbi Ephraim Spero is a Talmid of Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland, having learned in Telshe for eleven years. After receiving Semicha from the great Roshei HaYeshiva he remained in the Kollel for three and a half years. After teaching in high schools in Cleveland and Detroit he began a rewarding career as the Community Hospital Chaplain in Cleveland for twenty-two years. It was during that time that he honed his communication skills with Jews from all walks of life and all parts of the world. His objective for the Gemorah Group is total involvement by all members.
Rabbi Mahti Topas
Over twenty years ago, Rabbi Topas began his growth in Torah as a student of Rav Simcha Wasserman zt”l. Living at that time in Los Angeles, Rabbi Topas learned with Rav Simcha at every available moment and absorbed all that he could. Upon leaving L.A., Rabbi Topas started four years of full-time learning at Yeshivas Ohr Somayach in Yerushalayim. There he became close with HaRav Aharon Feldman (just recently appointed Rosh HaYeshiva of Ner Yisroel). In 1983, Rabbi Topas returned to the U.S. to become a three year member of the Kollel of Minneapolis. It was during his time in Minnesota that he began teaching Torah to adults. He has been involved in Torah education ever since. His specialty for many years has been helping talmidim (students) to learn how to learn. In reference to his role as a Gemora instructor for Yesodei HaTorah, Rabbi Topas explains, (in the name of his rebbe, Rav Simcha Wasserman zt”l) “The rebbe (instructor) is not there to tell over his own chidushim (insights). Rather, the rebbe exists for the sake of the talmid (student). The object is to raise the talmid.” Indeed, Rabbi Topas is very optimistic about what students with little Torah learning background can achieve: “Every Jew can accomplish it [learning on his/her own]. He doesn’t have to feel that he is an audience who just sits and is spoon-fed. He can open up a sefer (book) and open up a whole world of understanding.”