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Rabbi Chaim Moss knows what it is like to be a young student facing new challenges in a place that is far from home. At age 16, he left his hometown of Sydney, Australia, to study at the Manchester Yeshiva while his school back in Sydney was on summer holiday. He credits the caring support of the teachers and staff at the yeshiva with helping him adjust, and inspiring his deci- sion to remain at the yeshiva for two years of study.
“Rabbi Akiva Cohen spoke to me every day for about an hour,“ recalls Moss. “He has a good sense of people. Rabbi Chaim Moss knows what it is like to be a young student facing new challenges in a place that is far from home. At age 16, he left his hometown of Sydney, Australia, to study at the Manchester Yeshiva while his school back in Sydney was on summer holiday. He credits the car- ing support of the teachers and staff at the yeshiva with helping him adjust, and inspiring his decision to remain at the yeshiva for two years of study.
“Rabbi Akiva Cohen spent invaluable quality time with me in
the beginning,“ recalls Moss. “He has a good sense of people. He
works to develop a connection with each student, but he gave
me a lot of extra support.”
Other staff members also reached out to the young student--- beginning with Moss’s arrival in London, where Rabbi Zalman Jaffe met him and brought him to Manchester.
Their dedication and warmth not only molded his own yeshiva experience, they continue to inspire his dedication to his own students at the Mayanot Institute in Jerusalem, where he has been teaching and guiding young people since 2005..
For the thousands of Jewish students who travel to Israel each
year to immerse themselves in their heritage, finding a place
where they can truly feel welcome and at home is as critical to
having a successful year as finding a program that will chal-
lenge them intellectually. Many have found just such a place at
Mayanot, and while the entire staff share credit one name that
particularly stands out is that of Manchester yeshiva alumnus
Rabbi Chaim Moss.
“Rabbi Moss has played a big role in my experiences in Israel,
which have been life-changing. He’s always there for anyone
who needs someone to talk to,” said Roni Adamovitch, a former
accounts manager from Melbourne who first studied at Maya-
not six years ago and recently returned for an additional year of
study. “Yet, no matter how busy he is, he is always fully present
for whoever walks through his door. “
Adamovitch recalls one day when he was having an especially hard time adjusting to being in Israel.
“I bumped into Rabbi Moss, and he could tell that I was hav- ing a rough time, so he invited me to his house to have dinner with his family. We ended up spending five hours speaking to each other that evening, and it really helped me to gain a new perspective on what was bothering me.”
“He’s a breath of fresh air.”
As the educational director for Mayanot, Rabbi Moss has played a role in developing many of the current programs, including the highly regarded women’s program and the yeshiva for Spanish speakers as well as the ever popular post-Birthright program and regular summer learning sessions.
Adam Weinstein, an American entrepreneur who took part in the Executive Learning Program shortly after completing his university studies, praised Mayanot for its ‘open and tolerant atmosphere’ which he states helped him make the transition into Jewish study and observance.
in all of these programs, Rabbi Moss is a “pivotal figure” and one whose openness and understanding are cited time and again, as is his patience for the varying levels of knowledge and skills students bring when they first arrive.
“Everyone at the yeshiva welcomed me and helped me settle in—and Rabbi Cohen especially inspired me to challenge myself with Gemora for the first time. That was something I found very intimidating up to that point.”
“Manchester was my first entry to serious Jewish textual learn- ing.”
After completing 2 years of study at Manchester, Moss went on to spend 2 years at an advanced yeshiva in Israel and an addi- tional year of study at the central Chabad yeshiva in Brooklyn, New York. He returned to Israel to help direct a Chabad House in Bnei Brak, but soon found himself drawn back to yeshiva— this time, as a teacher.
Five years ago, Moss accepted a teaching position at the Chabad- run Mayanot Institute in Jerusalem where he gave courses in Talmud, Jewish mysticism, and Jewish philosophy. At the time, Moss and his wife Shaina, a native of Brooklyn, New York, were only very recently married and still settling into life in Israel, yet they did not hesitate to open their home to students at Ma- yanot, creating a warm home away from home.
Rabbi Moss noted the special challenges Talmud study present- ed to those who did not have a yeshiva background. Together with his colleagues there, particularly Rabbi Baruch Kaplan, he began to work on developing a system of learning that would help make the Talmud accessible. Moss has built on his own memories of being a first-time student of the Talmud and the skills he learned to help others.
“My own experience of coming into Manchester with no background has definitely influenced my interest in helping students of all back- grounds feel at home with the text,” Moss relates.
The method developed by Moss and Kaplan involves breaking Talmud study down into a sequence of 8 levels study, taking students from learning the Hebrew alphabet to learning a section of Gemora on their own within just 24 months.
Today, this unique method of Talmud study is fast gaining interna- tional recognition. Yeshivas in Europe, Australia, and America have written to Mayanot asking staff members to conduct in-service pro- grams for their teachers, so that they may
“Mayanot is unique in that it is designed to accommodate Jews of all types of backgrounds”, Moss pointed out. “Over the summer, we had bris milahs for four of our students—this is how far from Jewish observance some students are, and it is important that these students not feel intimidated by Jewish learning.”
Moss continues to dedicate himself to students long after they have left the yeshiva and returned to their home communities. In addi- tion to staying in touch with individual students, Rabbi Moss also arranges a weekly class to alumni via Skype. He is also very often the first staff member from Mayanot that prospective students meet.
Eddie Bundity, a native of Hungary who is currently studying at an American University, came to Israel on a Birthright program this summer—and decided to extend his stay in Israel to study at Maya- not. He cited his conversations with Rabbi Moss as a central part of his decision.
“Every time I have spoken to him, he is always very warm, and you can tell that he is an unusually kind person, that he cares about people.”