Greg L., 2005

Greg-L-200x300

BS University of Iowa
MBA University of Chicago

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?

I grew up and studied engineering in Iowa, and prior to Machon Yaakov had lived and worked in Minnesota, California, Illinois, and New York. While working as a research analyst at a NY investment partnership, I began to pursue Jewish studies and had the incredible fortune of developing meaningful relationships with a number of observant Jewish professionals and educators, including Rabbi Jacobs.

My decision to take action and attend Machon Yaakov was built on my belief that this program – the curriculum, educators, and fellow students – was the foremost path to identifying, developing, and bringing out my greatest potential in all corners of life. My time and effort at Machon Yaakov served to integrate all of my prior goals with a more clearly defined and all-encompassing timeless Jewish value system.

I now live with my wife in New York City, and have continued to develop my investment career.

 

Michael S., 2015Michael-S.-300x199

BBA Emory University

How has attending Machon Yaakov impacted your professional and personal life?

After graduating from Emory University, I attended Machon Yaakov in order to broaden my knowledge of Judaism and create the foundation to lead a Torah observant life. Over the course of the year, I grew tremendously as an individual and had an amazing time along the way. Looking back, I recognize more and more how infinitely valuable my time was at Machon Yaakov, as I continue to draw inspiration from the experience.

Following the end of my first year at Machon Yaakov, I returned to New York City to work for Citibank as a research analyst. I also became married to my wonderful wife Lauren, who I had previously known for many years. We both had the dream of spending our first year of marriage together in Israel and to our very pleasant surprise, our employers granted us a year-long sabbatical in order to learn in a Israel for another year allowing me to complete my second year at Machon Yaakov.

Needless to say, since my entry into Machon Yaakov my life has been changed immeasurably. Lauren and I have since been blessed with a son Elie and continue to live in New York City. I am so appreciative of Machon Yaakov for giving all its students a vision of the greatness we are capable of achieving, both as individuals and as a community!

 

Judd M., 2008Judd-M1-300x225

BA The George Washington University
JD South Texas College of Law

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?

I was raised in Maryland, attended college in Washington, D.C. and then moved to Texas for law school. Upon graduation from law school, I began working for a law firm in Houston. During this same period, I connected with a group of local rabbis in Houston who provided me with a new understanding of Jewish life and culture. After experiencing tremendous growth through my learning with these rabbis, I made the decision to place my professional career temporarily on hold in order to pursue the opportunity to engage in Jewish studies full time in Israel. I spent 2008-2010 living and learning in yeshiva at Machon Yaakov in Jerusalem, and had the absolute greatest time of my life!

I returned to America during the summer of 2010, got married shortly thereafter and now reside with my family in Baltimore. I am employed by a boutique litigation law firm in Maryland where I practice labor and employment law, and I always look forward to conquering the daily challenges that come from working full-time while continuing to ensure family, Judaism and learning remain my principal priorities.

Machon Yaakov instilled in me a lifetime of inspiration and empowered me with the life skills essential to thriving simultaneously as a successful professional, community leader and observant Jew.

 

Ari K., 2009Ari K.

BA Quinnipiac University
MSW Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University

How has attending Machon Yaakov impacted your professional and personal life?

In the summer of 2005, upon being drafted by the Seattle Mariners out of college, I found myself fulfilling my lifelong dream of playing professional baseball. I was pursuing the lofty goal of playing in the MLB, chasing the esteem and wealth of a professional athlete. On all the teams that I played for, I was the token Jew, and I wore that honor proudly. This role brought many questions from interested teammates, mostly religious in their own right, who had never met a Jew before. However, when I found myself unable to answer many of their questions, I began my own search.

My life admittedly was great, but a yearning for more meaning brought me to Sinai Retreats, a summer outreach trip, where I received a small taste of learning Torah. That was all I needed to make the decision of a lifetime. I walked away from my dream and I found a greater life of spirituality, fulfillment, and happiness. I am so grateful for my years at Machon Yaakov which laid the foundation for this life. While at Machon Yaakov, their primary focus on character development through learning Torah and the presence of refined Rabbis and mentors, set the stage for my own personal growth. The small intimate setting made up of growth-oriented brothers and the ability to connect on a personal level with each Rabbi facilitated a deeper connection to authentic Torah Judaism. In my two years in Machon Yaakov, especially with the work accomplished in Rabbi Lynn’s second year program, I was able to become aware of my own unique strengths, which led me to my new profession. Machon Yaakov still plays a large role in my life as I continue to rely on the Rabbis for guidance and maintain the life-long friends made in those years in Yeshiva.

Currently, I reside in Massachusetts with my amazing wife and three beautiful children. I work as a Mental Health Clinician in the prison system, and I strive to pass on the Torah I learned in Machon Yaakov through local Jewish organizations.

 

Gene S., 2007Gene-S-255x300

BS Drexel University

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?

I was born in Kiev, Ukraine and grew up in Philadelphia. After graduating from college, I spent several years working in the field of Computer Security and Systems Engineering for various consulting companies. During this time, I started slowly learning more about traditional Judaism from various Jewish outreach organizations in Philadelphia. After several years of slow growth, I eventually decided to leave work and dedicate 2 years to intensive learning, spiritual growth, and character building. I was very fortunate to find out about Machon Yaakov.

I chose Machon Yaakov due to its small size, individualized attention, and exceptional staff, all allowing for a unique learning approach for every student. I was attracted to a curriculum that balances practical textual learning skills, Jewish law, and traditional Jewish thought, while emphasizing personal development. Machon Yaakov does an excellent job of helping students integrate Torah values into all aspects of everyday life. Living in Jerusalem and being surrounded by other Jews who are continually striving to better themselves encourages students to maximize their potential as a Jews.

Since returning from Israel, I have been living in Passaic, NJ and working as an Information Security Engineer. After 2 incredibly moving years of being surrounded by Machon Yaakov staff who continue to give themselves completely to their students, I was inspired to try to give back myself. I started tutoring a student in Arkansas through Partners in Torah, an experience that has benefited me more than I could have ever imagined.

 

Amit F., 2014Amit F.

BS, BA University of Pennsylvania

How has attending Machon Yaakov impacted your professional and personal life?

Machon Yaakov’s mission is to teach students how to make the most out of life. They do this through the incredible combination of top-notch educators, thousand-year old teachings filled with timeless wisdom, and creating a student body comprised of people who are striving to actualize their potential and lead a powerful life. Through the process of learning Torah and the constant contact with tremendous role models, the positive transformations are inevitable. Thanks to my time at Machon Yaakov, I have become more intellectually curious, hardworking, caring, goal-focused, and more connected to the people in my life. I have become a better son, brother, friend, employee, and more recently, husband and father. For this, I will be forever grateful.

 

Ezra G., 2009Ezra-G-300x225

BA New York University
MBA University of Chicago-Booth School of Business

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?

I had always toggled between a number of interests – whether it be film, entrepreneurship, marketing, or gaming – all of which I pursued professionally for some period of time. Though this indecision had led me through dozens of countries, I realized I felt most at home in foreign situations when I could tap into my Jewish heritage, and engage in Jewish studies.

Over time, I began to realize that the teachers I respected most in Jewish education were overwhelming affiliated with the Machon Yaakov system. The people I would meet in these learning programs also had similar backgrounds and goals. I was stunned that so many young professionals who wanted to make a strong impact in the world were simultaneously pursuing Jewish learning. Machon Yaakov provided this hands on approach to Jewish learning – engaging in real world problems, developing a meaningful approach to the professional world, and helping to concretize long term goals related to family, residence, and friendship.

I now live in Chicago, where I am studying for an MBA, and working with a variety of young tech startups.

 

Sam L., 2015Sam L.

BA University of Pennsylvania

How has attending Machon Yaakov impacted your professional and personal life?

After an intensive semester at the University of Pennsylvania full of suits, portfolio pads, “coffee chats” and case interviews, most college seniors are exhausted. Why? I don’t think it’s just the long days. It’s more essential than that. In those moments, we’re all forced to grapple with the question “what is success?” or even “am I successful?” With everyone shouting out the names of bulge-bracket banks and management consulting firms, it can feel like there’s little else that matters.

My two years at Machon Yaakov helped me to ingrain a much broader and more holistic approach to these questions. Together with a class of thirteen other like-minded young professionals, I deeply explored classical and contemporary Jewish texts. Outside of the classroom, I formed meaningful mentor relationships with Rabbis who continue to offer their perspective in helping me make critical decisions in my life. While in Israel, I had numerous opportunities to explore beyond the classroom, partaking in breath-taking hikes and touring Israel’s holiest historical sites. Returning to America, I felt empowered to continue developing myself spiritually, personally, and professionally. A mere 8 months later I met Becka, my fiancé, who enriches my life each day. Machon Yaakov helped me establish a solid foundation upon which I will continue to build in the years to come.

 

Shlomo S., 2005

BS University of Pennsylvania
MBA Harvard Business School

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?

I grew up in Venezuela where I learned windsurfing and studied industrial engineering. After Chavez came to power I moved to the US where I completed a masters in Biomedical Engineering at UPenn and worked in strategy consulting for a few years before starting the MBA program at Harvard Business School.

During the summer between my first and second year of MBA, I met my wife and together we decided to take some time off from “life” and go to Israel to learn in Yeshiva/Seminary. A few weeks later I was unpacking my luggage in Machon Yaakov.

After Machon Yaakov, my wife and I decided to spend some additional time learning Torah in Jerusalem before going back to Boston to finish the MBA. It was the right decision: as I was more mature and focused I was able to get more out of it. After finishing the MBA I founded a startup in telehealth aiming to deliver cost effective health care solutions in Latin America.

I am now living in Miami- juggling my time between my wife and two kids, the startup and my learning. I am even fortunate to be able to do some teaching in Judaism once in a while.

Machon Yaakov has been the most unique opportunity I ever had. Besides learning the basics of Torah and Jewish values I was able to build the foundations of my marriage and family. It was a truly transformational experience were I was able to cultivate deep relationships with exceptional and inspiring Rebbeim and fellow students. I still treasure these relationships very dearly and they continue to be role models in my day to day life.

 

Jack C., 2006

BA University of Pennsylvania
MA Harvard School of Education

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?

I was fortunate to have received a Jewish day school education in Connecticut until age 14, and went on to attend public high school. Naturally, my secular knowledge quickly surpassed my Jewish understanding which was left in the dust — stagnated, like that of many, at a junior high level. Although I maintained a very strongly-rooted Jewish identity — even spending a year in Israel before college, volunteering, doing 3 months of “army training,” and studying Jewish history — I gradually became more detached from mitzvahs, and certainly from real Torah learning.

When I got to PENN, I started off as purely a physics major, dabbling a bit in philosophy — thinking, as most people that dabble in philosophy, that it would make for good cocktail conversation. However, the big, nagging, unanswerable questions in physics, combined with my increasing involvement in student government, and later pro-Israel activism and education, spiced with a summer in the Costa Rican rainforest with a stack of Jewish philosophy books, all mixed together to lead me to write my honors thesis on God and science, inspired to find an authentic yet relevant Judaism for the 21st century. I came to Israel in 2006 to pursue a graduate fellowship at a Jewish think tank on the same topic, and had a month to “kill” before it started…

I of course didn’t realize it at the time, but what I was really looking for was a place like Machon Yaakov, where sincere, dedicated students bond and learn with sincere, dedicated teachers of a refined, beautiful and authentically real vision of what a life of Torah is meant to look like.

Jack received his BA at the University of Pennsylvania, with a dual major in Physics & Philosophy. He was awarded top prize in the Philadelphia Consortium of Philosophy, served as Class President and Member of the Undergraduate Assembly, was recognized as one of AIPAC’s campus activists of the year in 2006, and was selected to deliver the Graduation Address to the Class of 2006. Jack is currently involved in teaching Torah to beginners on short/medium-term study programs with MEOR, and works with 1st year yeshiva students on a one-on-one basis regularly throughout the year. He can be reached jackcohen@meor.org.

 

Jon N., 2014Jon N.

BA University of Michigan
JD University of Pennsylvania

How has attending Machon Yaakov impacted your professional and personal life?

I first became interested in attending Machon Yaakov during undergrad at the University of Michigan and law school at the University of Pennsylvania. As important as my education has been, I found myself searching for a program that would connect me to my Jewish roots in a deeper way. A close mentor of mine always used to say “people spend 20 years learning how to make a living, but no time at all learning how to truly live.” I can say now that, Machon Yaakov has taught me how to truly live. Once there, I encountered Rabbis who were as interested in my personal development as in my professional development, who encouraged me to explore and actualize all of my potential, and who were always available to offer guidance along the way. Machon Yaakov taught me not only how to be great in the boardroom, but how to be a great husband, a great father, and a great community leader. Most importantly, Machon Yaakov has instilled in me a desire to keep growing, strengthening connections with the people in my life, and striving to be the best me that I can be.
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Igor M., 2005Igor-M-300x225

BS Jay College of Criminal Justice
JD Hofstra University School of Law

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?

I can positively say that my year in Machon Yaakov was the most important year of my life. During that year I acquired the vision and the tools essential for a life of personal, spiritual and professional success. Prior to coming to Yeshiva, I yearned for a life of inspiration but found it only in rare, fleeting moments. I learned at Machon Yaakov that every area of life can be fused with inspiration and a sense of mission and accomplishment.

Machon Yaakov was the most important year of my life without a doubt. That year I acquired the tools and the skills needed to treat other people with dignity, to have a sense of mission in life, and to take pride in living a life of ethical discipline.

The way I conduct myself as a husband, a father, a son, and a professional has been very deeply influenced by the vision I received from my Rebbeim at the yeshivah.

I currently practice law and live with my wife and children in New York.

 

Ilan L., 2015Ilan L.

BS Rutgers University

How has attending Machon Yaakov impacted your professional and personal life?

Although I did not grow up in a particularly religious home, being a child of an Israeli father allowed me to experience some Jewish values and rich traditions in a daily lifestyle throughout my youth. While my enrollment in the public school system and exposure to American culture certainly dulled my spiritual sensitivities, my innate Jewish identity was still very much a constant defining characteristic of who I am. As such, I always felt a desire to achieve more with my Judaism, grow in my observance, and discover my purpose in life. Naturally, these desires led me to Machon Yaakov.

The decision to put my life and new career on hold was certainly challenging, as I was fortunate enough to land a dream job designing bridges for the United States Government. It was everything a new engineering grad could dream of. However, I got so caught up in chasing a career and advancing my social status, I realized that I had neglected my religious and spiritual heritage. Ultimately, I could not ignore my yearning to for more spiritual pursuits. I can sincerely testify that the experience of learning full-time in a yeshiva was more than worth it, and all of the anxieties that accompany a drastic life-change were for naught. Attending Machon Yaakov provided me the perspective on life to be confident and successful in areas well beyond the confines of Yeshiva. I have a much deeper understanding of who I am, what drives me, and how to contribute to the world in my unique way. Not only did I satiate my quest for understanding Judaism in a deep and rigorous way, but I also learned to how be a complete person and lead a life with noble values. In addition, living a Torah observant lifestyle is also so unbelievably satisfying and rewarding; you really have to live it to understand it.

Machon Yaakov even played an influential role in reestablishing my career upon returning to the United States. After applying to re-obtain my previous job, my employers were so impressed with the maturity and commitment of a yeshiva student, I was re-hired and offered a promotion within the same department that I had resigned from. The profound benefits of attending Machon Yaakov are truly boundless.
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Mike R., 2008Mike-R.-211x300

BA Bernard M Baruch College

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?

I began learning more about Judaism and discovering my roots during my years in college. I graduated and took up a position in Public Relations and eventually pharmaceutical advertising for an Ad Agency in New York.

Steadily progressing in my career and trying to learn more in my limited free time, I couldn’t help but hope that there was more to life than what I was experiencing. Although I was doing everything that I thought was right, I felt that there was something very important that I was missing out on.

The thought of going to Israel buffered in my mind for over a year. Going through a list of reasons of why I should not go, I realized that there is rarely the “right” time do anything and that opportunities need to be proactively created.

I spent two years at Machon Yaakov and discovered what I’ve been searching for.

I now live in NJ with my wife and work at the same advertising agency in NY.