Yeshivas Bais Toras Menachem (BTM), in partnership with TTI College, is introducing a unique program this year that will allow its students to earn Smicha and a Bachelor’s degree simultaneously. This is the first such program on the west coast.
BTM is headed by Rabbi Mordechai and Rivky Katz, who began the yeshiva in 2008 for their own son. “The intention was to create a ‘homeschool group’ for our son and just a few of his friends,” says Mrs. Katz. “But Hashem had other, bolder plans, which had a snowball effect, and before my husband and I knew it, a dozen bachurim rolled in, many off the plane, to come learn in what became a little Yeshiva overnight.” Since then, many BTM graduates have completed their Smicha studies, acquired marketable skills, gotten married and are currently utilizing their skills to support their families.
This year’s partnership with TTI, however, will bring BTM to a new level. Previously, the yeshiva primarily offered vocational training, such as business management or computerized accounting. Now, the students can earn a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts or business, finance, information technology, and marketing. Through TTI, the students will receive credits not only for the secular, but also for the limudei kodesh courses, and will be able to complete their degree in two years. After graduation, students may continue to earn their Master’s degree through TTI, or go on to another graduate school.
The founders, Rabbi and Mrs. Katz, are excited about the new opportunity. “We are raising the bar this year,” says Mrs. Katz. “We want our students to feel confident in today’s job market.”
While many students come to BTM from out of town and stay in the dormitory, BTM also caters to local students, and even offers part time programs. The locals may choose to complete only the Smicha program, or only the Bachelor’s degree, or they can simply attend some of the classes. Additionally, BTM offers evening courses in Safrus and Shechita.
The Limudei kodesh classes at BTM are taught by dynamic and inspiring teachers, Rabbi Levi Chazan and Rabbi Yonah Shnek. Learning takes place inside Congregation Levi Yitzchok, in Hancock Park. Because of small class size, BTM is able to offer individualized attention to every student. “The program is a little more relaxed, less intense than other Smicha programs,” says Mrs. Katz. “The learning is more manageable, and there is flexibility in regards to choices for in town students who even just have a lunch break.” Each student will be assigned an advisor who will help him navigate his degree requirements and form a customized plan that would help the student achieve his goals.
The program is intended for bachurim with some yeshiva background and appreciation and interest in Smicha, who value the mitzvah of supporting their families and would like to acquire a degree so they have more choices in today’s competitive job market. The motto of BTM, says Mrs. Katz, is based on Pirkei Avos, “‘Yafe Talmud Torah im Derech Eretz’ — ‘Nice are the ways of Torah when combined with “the ways of the land”’ i.e. a trade.”
The 5777 school year at BTM begins on November 1st. For more information about BTM, please visit smicha.net, or call 323-495-3010.