YULA Open House


YULA Open House


On October 29, 2013, over 250 prospective students and parents filled the beit midrash, courtyard, hallways, and classrooms at YULA Boys High School’s Open House 2013: Find Your Inspiration.  Rabbi Dov Emerson, Head of School, reflects on how the entire process of developing, planning and creating the Open House program gave him the opportunity to articulate what it is that makes YULA a unique and incredible place:


At YULA, our goal is to inspire our young men as proud Orthodox Jewish leaders, both as adolescents and as adults in the future. Our approach boils down to three components: our identity, our staff, and the way we empower and inspire our students.


As I mentioned in my remarks at Open House, YULA is a Modern Orthodox Yeshiva High School for Boys. What does that mean? It means that we are committed to creating graduates who have the skills, desire, and knowledge to make learning Torah and spiritual growth a lifelong pursuit, while having all sorts of doors open to them in higher education and in their careers. We seek to create graduates who are inspired leaders, who are eager and unafraid to make a difference in the world and in their communities. We recognize that it is often our graduates who serve as ambassadors in their place of work to the Jewish and general community, and we strive to give our students the tools to make a Kiddush Hashem in every action they take. We seek to fulfill our mission as G-d’s chosen nation by educating our talmidim to engage the world, with the values of our Torah as their lens. We seek to create graduates who have a deep and sincere love for the State of Israel and our brothers and sisters who reside there. Our graduates overwhelmingly choose to study in Yeshivot in Israel after high school, and to continue their education in highly ranked colleges and universities, including many at Yeshiva University.

The world is a fast moving, rapidly changing place here in 2013. The values of our Yeshiva, in both engaging the world around us and remaining firmly grounded in the traditions that have sustained us for thousands of years, remain the same. What does change, and what does get constantly reevaluated, is how we deliver these values, with a focus on educating in a format and structure that will excite and inspire young adults in our community today.

As you can see, those are some pretty big goals. We believe in dreaming big! But how do these dreams get translated into reality?


Our outstanding staff of Rebbeim and teachers are our greatest asset. They create the environment that fosters a desire to grow and learn here in YULA. As I stated at the Open House, our faculty create the air that our students breathe here in yeshiva, and what comes out is their unique neshama, their inspiration. Our faculty comprises a community of learners who are diverse, driven, professional, and passionate in the often-challenging work of educating and inspiring. At every academic level, our faculty works tirelessly to bring out the best in each young man. When our students experience the pleasure of that “Aha!” moment where they now get it, this is a recipe for inspiration, and it ultimately leads to our students seeking additional opportunities for growth, both spiritual and academic.


As I surveyed the Beit Medrash at our Open House, my eyes were drawn to the perimeter of the room, as I watched our YULA Student Ambassadors and Junior Ambassadors, in their distinct black and yellow shirts. These young men, representing the full range of schools and communities in the greater Los Angeles area, are leaders in every sense of the word. Our Open House is referred to internally as “For the students, by the students,” and observing the sheer volume of work they put into this event was truly inspiring for me.

This snapshot is really emblematic of a larger approach that we take at YULA, which is to empower the students to take leadership roles in their educational, religious, and extra-curricular endeavors. From a student run Friday Kollel lunchtime learning program, to a basketball team committed to leading by example both on and off the court at last weekend’s Cooper Invitational in Memphis, TN, to our students attending the AIPAC High School Summit last week as members of the largest high school delegation in the country, this is empowered student leadership in action. It is these experiences, and the many others that are available to our students, that allow individual young men to take ownership of something and shine, and in the process, uncover strengths they did not know they had.