Major Kollel Milestones
2000, May 23
Kollel welcomed at the Ritz Carlton
This is where it all begins. One week after Rabbi Zvi and Sima Holland arrive with their two young daughters (Yaffa 2 and Dalia 1), the remaining three Kollel families arrive on this 109 degree day in May. Rabbi Yakov and Esther Bronstyn arrive with Yosef (4) and Elisheva (1), Rabbi Raphael and Cindy Landesman with Rochel (2) and Yaakov (1), and Rabbi Dovid and Shira Goldman with Tzipora Bracha (2), Shmueli (1) and Moshe (3 mos.)
The community welcomes them in style at the Ritz Carlton in an evening reception. Rabbi Joshua Fishman of Torah U’Mesorah attends and gives an impassioned speech about the opportunities now available to the community to learn from these knowledgeable and inspiring families.
Mrs. Shira Goldman becomes Kollel administrator.
Two years after its founding, the Kollel welcomes two new families. Rabbi Ariel and Ayala Shoshan arrive with Rachel Ora (2) and Leah (3 mos.). Rabbi Shoshan assumes a position as the Director of Programming.
Later this month, Rabbi Shlomie and Sari Gelber follow with Chezky (1). Both Gelbers assume part-time positions teaching at Phoenix Hebrew Academy in addition to their responsibilities with the Kollel.
Really High Holidays
The Pima Inn and Suites is the site for the Kollel’s first full-service High Holiday program. Rabbis Holland, Shoshan, and Landesman lead the concise and informative beginners’ service with interactive commentary, question and answer sessions and a beautiful and inspiring prayer service.
The Kollel now is in its 14th year with this important program.
Rabbis Baruch Cohen, Pinchas Nisanov, and Dovid Plishtiyev arrive for Bucharian Community
The Kollel provides the arrangements to enable Rabbi Cohen to serve the greater Bucharian community throughout the Phoenix area. First leading the congregation on Glendale and 10th Street, Rabbi Cohen is soon joined by Rabbis Dovid Plishtiyev and Rabbi Pinchas Nisanov who lead congregation in other areas. This is the beginning of an extraordinary period of growth for this community.
Maimonides Leaders Fellowship
Led by Rabbi Zvi Holland, this program was offered to students at University of Arizona throughout the spring semester. Dozens of students applied and committed to the entire course, which included classes from Rabbi Holland as well as presentations from lay leaders. This program grows and eventually becomes spun off as Jewish Arizonas on Campus (JAC), serving ASU as well.
Cindy Landesman launches Women’s Division
Under the leadership of Cindy Landesman, the Kollel opens a women’s division to better focus on women’s education. The Women’s division will run many programs each year and Cindy will spend hours a day teaching and studying with women of all backgrounds and ages.
Kollel welcomes the Adlers
Rabbi Elimelech and Chani Adler join the Kollel family, with Rivki (4) and Michoel (3). In addition to studying with the Kollel, Rabbi Adler begins as assistant director of teen programming, focusing on five Jewish student unions in Valley high schools. Chani becomes the Jewish Studies teacher of first graders at Phoenix Hebrew Academy the following school year. Later, Rabbi Adler shifts to college student programming.
New building for Bucharian Jewish Community Center and Kollel
The Bucharian Jewish Community Center is inaugurated at 6516 North 7th Street to serve 500+ Bucharian Jewish families in the Valley. This building soon becomes the new home of the Kollel as well, and will later house Congregation Ohr Hatorah and Shearim High School for Girls.
Daf Yomi Class Begins the New Cycle
Rabbi Holland begins the 2,711 day cycle by launching the first regular Daf Yomi page-a-day class in the history of the southwest. Several students commit to the daily study plan and have continued to this day. The Kollel is now in it’s second cycle of the Daf Yomi. Now the Valley has three daily Daf Yomi classes.
Ahavas Torah opens in North Scottsdale
Beginning with about 12-15 families, this new shul offers its first Shabbos services in its own location. Led by Rabbi Ariel Shoshan of the Kollel (who would become full time rabbi in September 2007) Ahavas Torah becomes a powerful and exciting presence of Jewish life in Scottsdale.
Kollel welcomes the Brumers
Rabbi Jordan and Risa Brumer, along with Sora (4), Baila (3), and Binyamin (1), join the Kollel. In addition to working with the Kollel in torah study and programs in Ahavas Torah Scottsdale Torah Center, Rabbi Brumer will run the Kollel’s partnership with the Hillel Foundation at University of Arizona in Tucson, and Risa will teach at the Young Israel of Phoenix Preschool.
Jewish Arizonans on Campus (JAC)
Under the leadership of Rabbi Jordan Brumer, the Kollel’s campus programming moves on to become an independent organization: JAC. Beginning at University of Arizona, they add programming at ASU in 2007, establishing the “JAC house” there in 2008 as a venue for programs, especially for Shabbat. Rabbi Elimelech Adler joins JAC full time and they are later joined for a year by Rabbi Dovid Hodges and Rabbi “Zuess” Elefant.
Shearim Torah High School opens
Under the leadership of Rabbi Raphael Landesman of the Kollel, a new girl’s high school begins its first school year. Tenth through twelfth are added over the next three years, and develops its reputation for excellence, bot in its Judaic studies program as well as its secular curriculum.
Ohr Hatorah Congregation
In partnership with the Kollel, a new shul opens in the Valley upstairs from the Kollel, just in time for Yom Kippur. Intended to be a spiritual home to families, children and all Jews, regardless of their level of knowledge or observance.
Four new rabbis join Kollel faculty
A new generation is ushered in at the Kollel. With Rabbi Landesman leading Shearim Torah High School, Rabbi Bronsteyn heading the west coast office of the Star-K Kosher Certification, and Rabbi Goldman and family moving soon to Baltimore, the Kollel is refreshed by the arrival of of four new families. Rabbis Yossi and Baila Semel, Gavriel and Gittel Goetz, Shragi and Chana Yankelewitz, and Daniel and Yael Abramowitz arrive in the Valley with their families.
Baila Semel becomes the Kollel’s administrator. The Kollel benefits greatly from her abundant skills and talents.
New boy’s high school is announced
In response to a growing community need, Rabbi Gavriel Goetz and Rabbi Yossie Semel of the Kollel announce the opening of Yeshiva High School of Arizona for the fall of 2010. Rabbi Goetz will be Head of School and Rabbi Semel will serve as Talmud instructor in an intensive dual educational program.
The Kollel welcomes two new families to Phoenix. Rabbi Moshe and Leah Wolin arrive with Brachah (6), Rifky (4), Nechama (2), and Dina (10 mos.). They are joined by Rabbi Nosson and Nechama Ungar with Chaim (5), Malka (3), Leah (10 mos.).
Both Leah and Nechama become the first teachers in the newly formed Torah Day School.
Rabbi Yankelewitz joins high school faculty
Rabbi Shragi Yankelewitz announces he will join the faculty of Yeshiva High School of Arizona the following fall as tenth grade rebbe.
2011, July – August
The Kollel greets two more new families to the Valley. Rabbi Dovid and Mimi Gonsky with Eliezer (5), Shmuel Elya (3), and Chaya (9 mos.). They are followed by Rabbi Binyamin and Penina Teitelbaum with Eliezer (4) and Kevie (2). Along with their regular studies at the Kollel, their copious talents make an indelible impact on the Valley.
Rabbis Wolin and Ungar join Torah Day School
Rabbi Moshe Wolin and Rabbi Nosson Ungar announce they will be joining the staff of the rapidly expanding Torah Day School. Rabbi Wolin as Kindergarten rebbe, and Rabbi Ungar as fourth grade rebbe.
Rabbi Holland’s departure
The extended Kollel family and Phoenix community send off the Hollands at a farewell dinner. Rabbi Holland has accepted a position as Head of Special Projects for the Star-K Kosher Certification in Baltimore. Rabbi Holland’s impact on the Valley’s Jewish community will be forever felt.
2012, July - August
The Kollel welcomes two new families to Phoenix. Rabbi Tzvi and Dvora Gershbaum with Brocha (3), Malka (1). They are later joined by Rabbi Yona and Ayala Wohlgelernter with Dovid Meir (1).
Rabbi Wohlgelernter Joins High School faculty
In June Rabbi Wohlgelernter announces his acceptance of the 12th grade rebbe position at Yeshiva High School of Arizona. With his recruitment the Kollel again fulfills one its major missions to act as a source of rabbinical talent for the Valley.
Kollel appoints new director
Rabbi Dovid Gonsky is made new director of the Kollel. Press release reads “Rabbi Gonsky has been a member of the Kollel since 2011 and has excelled in developing innovative programming, impactful classes and meaningful personal relationships throughout the community.
In his new role, Rabbi Gonsky will be responsible for the administrative and financial operations of the Kollel and will lead its community outreach efforts. He will also provide interim leadership as the Kollel continues its national search for a new Rosh Kollel.”
Rabbi Don Bacharach appointed as Rosh Kollel
The Phoenix Community Kollel welcomes Rabbi Don and Dina Bacharach as its new Rosh Kollel. The Bacharachs arrive with Ahuva (7), Eliyahu (5), Malka (3), and Shlomo Yitzchak (1).
The Bacharachs arrival is immediately felt in the Valley. With their signature passion for outreach they quickly make many connections with a diverse segment of the Phoenix community.
Rabbi Bacharach is quoted in the Jewish News, expressing his excitement about accepting this position: “I have a deep-seated passion in two areas,” he wrote. “To connect with Jewish people in a real way and to share with my extended Jewish family what is most dear to me: Jewish education. A kollel provides a perfect opportunity to accomplish these goals.”
Rabbi Bacharach immediately begins recruitment for the members of the new Kollel.
2014, July – August
New Kollel members move to Phoenix
Four new families move to Phoenix! This is the biggest Kollel expansion since May 2000. The Kollel welcomes Rabbi Yosef and Chani Alden with Eliyahu Simcha (1). Rabbi Yakov and Nechama Ashin with Yitzchok (1) and Yechiel (2 mos.). Rabbi Yaakov and Rivky Gruenebaum with Rochel (9 mos.). And Rabbi Sholom and Chaviva Skolnik with Frieda Leah (3).
The Phoenix Community Kollel introduced its four new families at a Sept. 15 inaugural event at the Arizona Biltmore. The Kollel also announced its plans to embark upon a “spiritual building campaign,” asking the more than 250 people in attendance to partner with them in providing services to the community.
Rav Malkiel Kotler, the Rosh Yeshiva and dean of Beth Medrash Govoha (BMG) in Lakewood, New Jersey, was the keynote speaker. The Kollel works closely with BMG, which has more than 6,000 students studying there on a daily basis. Rabbi Aaron Kotler, the yeshiva’s president and CEO, also attended along with a delegation of BMG board members.