Rabbi Arye D. Gordon
In his first visit to Los Angeles, the newly appointed Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Netanya, HaRav Kalman Ber, visited three Los Angeles Yeshivos. HaRav Chaim Boruch Rubin, Rov of Kehilas Etz Chaim of Hancock Park, hosted the Chief Rabbi’s visit and accompanied him as he visited these community schools.
The first visit was to the Yavneh Hebrew Academy in Hancock Park. The Yavneh Academy runs from preschool through 8th grade, and is a true campus on four acres of land. Yavneh was established in 1958 and has grown through the years into a school for over 300 students.
Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, Dean of Yavneh, met with the Chief Rabbi and took him on a tour, stopping to visit some of the classrooms, meeting students and teachers.
The Yavneh Academy, represents excellence in Limudei Kodesh, excellence in secular studies and love of Medinat Yisrael. Its educational philosophy is one of Torah Umadda.
The next stop was the Yeshiva Gedolah of Los Angeles, the Michael Diller High School, led by its Rosh Hayeshiva, HaRav Eliezer Gross. Since its inception, the Yeshiva Gedolah of Los Angeles has grown into a powerful center of learning in the Los Angeles Community providing students with the highest level of education possible in both Judaic and secular studies. The Rebbbeim at Yeshiva Gedolah are experienced educators and have been with the Yeshiva for many years, providing knowledge and inspiration which allow the students to excel in their Torah Studies. Graduates are accepted into the most prestigious yeshivas both in the United States and in Eretz Yisroel.
Rabbi Gross learned at the Yeshiva of Philadelphia, the Lakewood Yeshiva and the Los Angeles Kollel. Assisted by local bale batim, Rabbi Gross established the Yeshiva Gedolah in September 1978. The Yeshiva Gedolah of Los Angeles is a fully accredited High School offering a 4-year program for boys in grades 9-12, and a two-year Beis Medrash Program. The Yeshiva is affiliated with Beis Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood.
The last stop was to see the Yeshiva Rav Isacsohn – Toras Emes Academy led by its Menahel, Rav Yaakov Krause and Principal, Rav Berish Goldenberg. With over 1200 talmidim and talmidos, the yeshiva is the largest day school on the West Coast.
The yeshiva consists of 5 buildings hovering on La Brea Blvd. There is the Menlo Family Boys Elementary School, the Weiss Family Girls Elementary School, the Friedman Family Boys Junior High and the Marquis Family Girls Junior High Building. The newest addition is the Friedman Family Early Childhood Building. It is a spacious and colorful building with an imaginative play area and modern equipment.
Rav Krause led the tour through the various buildings, stopping in classrooms to hear what the talmidim were learning. The Chief Rabbi took the opportunity to ask questions on what was being learnt and was pleased with the student’s responses.
The history of the Chief Rabbinate position in Netanya has an interesting past. It is over 30 years since there was an Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Netanya. Up until recently, all rabbinical duties had been carried out by the Sephardi Chief Rabbi. The last Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Netanya was HaRav Yisrael Meir Lau who was elected in 1978 as Chief Rabbi of the city. In 1983 Rabbi Lau was appointed to serve on the Mo’etzet of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. In 1988, after the death of his father-in-law, RabbiYitzchok Yedidya Frankel, Rabbi Lau was appointed to serve as Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, a position he held until 1993. In that year he was appointed Chief Rabbi of Israel and held that position for the next 10 years.
From the time Rabbi Lau left the position until recently, the city of Netanya had no Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi. Appointment and election to the position of Chief Rabbi in Netanya required the approval of the Religious Council and the members of the Selections Committee. Due to the ongoing disputes surrounding Dati Leumi and chareidi candidates, with the major decision makers leaning towards a Dati Leumi candidate, the choice for Chief Rabbi had been deadlocked for many years. Until now.
It seems that Rabbi Kalman Ber a Rosh HaYeshivo at Kerem BeYavne in Israel, passed muster and was acceptable as the Chief Rabbi of Netanya.
The Chief Rabbi spent Shabbos with Rav Chaim Boruch Rubin and the members of his shul, Kehilas Etz Chaim. Rav Ber attended the shul at Melava Malka and was their guest speaker. Summing up his trip, the Chief Rabbi said he was much impressed by the Torah community of Los Angeles and wished the leaders continued success.