Learning League: A Program for Fathers and Sons at YAYOE
Every Motzaei Shabbos, Yeshiva Aharon Yaakov Ohr Eliyahu (YAYOE) hosts a unique father-son learning program for its students and their fathers. The program, proposed by Jim Kapenstein, combines Torah learning and sports. It is intended for boys in 3rd through 8th grade. The younger division, 3rd through 5th grade, play basketball while their fathers watch, cheer, and coach them. Meanwhile, the boys from the older division, 6th through 8th grade, learn together with their fathers, or sometimes with a tutor, a rebbi, or a chavrusah. Three of the YAYOE rebbeim are present throughout the program, available to answer questions or help out with the learning. Then all the fathers and sons gather together in the beis midrash, and one of the rebbeim gives a dvar Torah or tells a story. Afterwards, the divisions switch, with the older boys continuing the evening playing basketball as the younger boys learn.
At the end of the second learning session, a rebbi speaks to all the boys and their fathers, and then they come out into the courtyard and enjoy a pizza melaveh malkah and a raffle, where all participants can win prizes.
About 45 boys and their fathers currently attend the program, which is now in its second year. Rabbi Jacknis, the 8th grade rebbi at YAYOE, says that the program has a nice atmosphere and gives the boys and their fathers something positive to do after Shabbos. Basketball adds more energy, gives the students “more impetus to come out,” says Rabbi Jacknis. Moreover, since the program provides the boys with an opportunity to review what they are learning in school, it gives those boys who take advantage of it an edge in the classroom.
The fathers appreciate the opportunity to learn with their children at the Learning League. “I treasure the time together with my son,” says Yaakov Rosenblatt, a YAYOE parent. “It gives me a time just to focus on him.” Dr. Dan Doostan has two sons attending the program, one in the younger division and one in the older division. “I learn with my older son first, then with my younger son,” he says. “They don’t have to sit together and get bored, and they each get one on one time. This is a very successful program.”