Alumni

___

Greg L. 2005

___

B.S. University of Iowa
MBA University of Chicago

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?
I grew up and studied engineering in Iowa, and prior to Machon Yaakov had lived and worked in Minnesota, California, Illinois, and New York. While working as a research analyst at a NY investment partnership, I began to pursue Jewish studies and had the incredible fortune of developing meaningful relationships with a number of observant Jewish professionals and educators, including Rabbi Jacobs.

My decision to take action and attend Machon Yaakov was built on my belief that this program – the curriculum, educators, and fellow students – was the foremost path to identifying, developing, and bringing out my greatest potential in all corners of life. My time and effort at Machon Yaakov served to integrate all of my prior goals with a more clearly defined and all-encompassing timeless Jewish value system.

I now live with my wife in New York City, and have continued to develop my investment career.

___

___

Drew S. 2006

___

B.A. University of Virginia
J.D. UCLA School of Law

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?
Prior to attending Machon Yaakov, I was a single professional working as an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. After exploring the deeper side of Judaism for several years (when my schedule would allow), I made the difficult decision to put a 14-year career in government on hold to immerse myself full-time in learning the wisdom of Torah while living in Israel.

I have no doubt that this decision changed my life for the better. It unlocked the potential of who I could become as a person and gave me the tools to integrate spirituality into daily living in a profound but balanced and healthy way. I met my wife in Israel — an American who had come to Israel on a similar journey — and I have no doubt that I am now a much better husband and father as a result of my learning at Machon Yaakov. Most of all, Machon Yaakov gave me the inspiration and ability to continue on a path of learning and personal growth for the rest of my life.

I live with my wife and two children in Baltimore, Maryland, and have resumed my career with the federal government.

___

___

Andy M. 2008

___

B.S. University of Michigan
J.D. University of Detroit

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?
In 2009 Andy attended Machon Yakov for a month to add formal Jewish learning to a conservative upbringing based more on spirituality than knowledge and practice of the Jewish faith. While much shorter than the traditional two year program, Andy managed to pack a lot of learning and change into the month thanks to the fantastic, caring and thoughtful Rabbi’s of Machon Yaakov.

Oakland County Treasurer and former State Representative Andy Meisner was elected Oakland County Treasurer in November after serving three terms in the Michigan House of Representatives, where he chaired the Commerce Committee and served on the House Education, Tax Policy, Judiciary, and New Economy and Quality of Life Committees. Andy is best known for his work on legislation bringing the motion picture industry to Michigan, stem cell research and reform of the public mental health system.

Andy’s public-service career began in 1994 as a Lyndon B. Johnson Fellow in the Washington, D.C., Office of Congressman Sander Levin, where he continued as a congressional aide and gained experience in helping to manage the federal budget and bringing grants home to Oakland County. Andy worked as vice president of marketing and communications for a national non-profit organization dedicated to community-based prevention of substance abuse and violence, and as corporate communications director for a commercial real estate firm.

___

___

Mike F. 2008

___

B.A. University of Michigan

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?
Before coming to yeshiva, I was studying Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan and had plans to begin working at the Boeing Company. I quickly realized how important my Judaism was to me after much exposure to proselytizing non-Jews that knew a lot more about Judaism than I did. I wanted to know more about heritage and began learning at the Jewish Resource Center. Throughout the process of learning and towards the end of my degree, I knew I wanted to dive deeper into Judaism and found Machon Yaakov to offer exactly what I needed.

I am now happily married and living in Detroit with my wonderful wife. I work at General Motors and learn Torah in the evenings with community members. Thanks to the educators at Machon Yaakov, I am able to learn with people using the skills and philosophy that I acquired there. I do my best to stay involved with local Jewish outreach to try to give back some of what I received.

Machon Yaakov was a life long journey condensed into two short years in which I was able to learn, grow, and share memories with a tremendously incredible group of people around me which will be with me forever.

___

___

Mike R. 2008

___

B.A. Bernard M Baruch College

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?
I began learning more about Judaism and discovering my roots during my years in college. I graduated and took up a position in Public Relations and eventually pharmaceutical advertising for an Ad Agency in New York.

Steadily progressing in my career and trying to learn more in my limited free time, I couldn’t help but hope that there was more to life than what I was experiencing. Although I was doing everything that I thought was right, I felt that there was something very important that I was missing out on.

The thought of going to Israel buffered in my mind for over a year. Going through a list of reasons of why I should not go, I realized that there is rarely the “right” time do anything and that opportunities need to be proactively created.

I spent two years at Machon Yaakov and discovered what I’ve been searching for.

I now live in NJ with my wife and work at the same advertising agency in NY.

___

___

Judd M. 2008

___


B.A. The George Washington University
J.D. South Texas College of Law

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?
I was raised in Maryland, attended college in Washington, D.C. and then moved to Texas for law school. Upon graduation from law school, I began working for a law firm in Houston. During this same period, I connected with a group of local rabbis in Houston who provided me with a new understanding of Jewish life and culture. After experiencing tremendous growth through my learning with these rabbis, I made the decision to place my professional career temporarily on hold in order to pursue the opportunity to engage in Jewish studies full time in Israel. I spent 2008-2010 living and learning in yeshiva at Machon Yaakov in Jerusalem, and had the absolute greatest time of my life!

I returned to America during the summer of 2010, got married shortly thereafter and now reside with my family in Baltimore. I am employed by a boutique litigation law firm in Maryland where I practice labor and employment law, and I always look forward to conquering the daily challenges that come from working full-time while continuing to ensure family, Judaism and learning remain my principal priorities.

Machon Yaakov instilled in me a lifetime of inspiration and empowered me with the life skills essential to thriving simultaneously as a successful professional, community leader and observant Jew.

___

Jack C. 2006

___


B.A. UPENN
Majors in Physics & Philosophy

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?
I was fortunate to have received a Jewish day school education in Connecticut until age 14, and went on to attend public high school. Naturally, my secular knowledge quickly surpassed my Jewish understanding which was left in the dust — stagnated, like that of many, at a junior high level. Although I maintained a very strongly-rooted Jewish identity — even spending a year in Israel before college, volunteering, doing 3 months of “army training,” and studying Jewish history — I gradually became more detached from mitzvahs, and certainly from real Torah learning.

When I got to PENN, I started off as purely a physics major, dabbling a bit in philosophy — thinking, as most people that dabble in philosophy, that it would make for good cocktail conversation. However, the big, nagging, unanswerable questions in physics, combined with my increasing involvement in student government, and later pro-Israel activism and education, spiced with a summer in the Costa Rican rainforest with a stack of Jewish philosophy books, all mixed together to lead me to write my honors thesis on God and science, inspired to find an authentic yet relevant Judaism for the 21st century. I came to Israel in 2006 to pursue a graduate fellowship at a Jewish think tank on the same topic, and had a month to “kill” before it started…

I of course didn’t realize it at the time, but what I was really looking for was a place like Machon Yaakov, where sincere, dedicated students bond and learn with sincere, dedicated teachers of a refined, beautiful and authentically real vision of what a life of Torah is meant to look like.

Jack received his BA at the University of Pennsylvania, with a dual major in Physics & Philosophy. He was awarded top prize in the Philadelphia Consortium of Philosophy, served as Class President and Member of the Undergraduate Assembly, was recognized as one of AIPAC’s campus activists of the year in 2006, and was selected to deliver the Graduation Address to the Class of 2006. Jack is currently involved in teaching Torah to beginners on short/medium-term study programs with MEOR, and works with 1st year yeshiva students on a one-on-one basis regularly throughout the year. He can be reached jackcohen@meor.org.

___

___

Ezra G. 2009

___


B.A. New York University
MBA University of Chicago-Booth School of Business

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?
I had always toggled between a number of interests – whether it be film, entrepreneurship, marketing, or gaming – all of which I pursued professionally for some period of time. Though this indecision had led me through dozens of countries, I realized I felt most at home in foreign situations when I could tap into my Jewish heritage, and engage in Jewish studies.

Over time, I began to realize that the teachers I respected most in Jewish education were overwhelming affiliated with the Machon Yaakov system. The people I would meet in these learning programs also had similar backgrounds and goals. I was stunned that so many young professionals who wanted to make a strong impact in the world were simultaneously pursuing Jewish learning. Machon Yaakov provided this hands on approach to Jewish learning – engaging in real world problems, developing a meaningful approach to the professional world, and helping to concretize long term goals related to family, residence, and friendship.

I now live in Chicago, where I am studying for an MBA, and working with a variety of young tech startups.

___

___

Igor M. 2005

___

B.S. Jay College of Criminal Justice
J.D. Hofstra University School of Law

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?
I can positively say that my year in Machon Yaakov was the most important year of my life. During that year I acquired the vision and the tools essential for a life of personal, spiritual and professional success. Prior to coming to Yeshiva, I yearned for a life of inspiration but found it only in rare, fleeting moments. I learned at Machon Yaakov that every area of life can be fused with inspiration and a sense of mission and accomplishment.

Machon Yaakov was the most important year of my life without a doubt. That year I acquired the tools and the skills needed to treat other people with dignity, to have a sense of mission in life, and to take pride in living a life of ethical discipline.

The way I conduct myself as a husband, a father, a son, and a professional has been very deeply influenced by the vision I received from my Rebbeim at the yeshivah.

I currently practice law and live with my wife and children in New York.

___

___

Gene S. 2007

___

B.S. Drexel University

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?
I was born in Kiev, Ukraine and grew up in Philadelphia. After graduating from college, I spent several years working in the field of Computer Security and Systems Engineering for various consulting companies. During this time, I started slowly learning more about traditional Judaism from various Jewish outreach organizations in Philadelphia. After several years of slow growth, I eventually decided to leave work and dedicate 2 years to intensive learning, spiritual growth, and character building. I was very fortunate to find out about Machon Yaakov.

I chose Machon Yaakov due to its small size, individualized attention, and exceptional staff, all allowing for a unique learning approach for every student. I was attracted to a curriculum that balances practical textual learning skills, Jewish law, and traditional Jewish thought, while emphasizing personal development. Machon Yaakov does an excellent job of helping students integrate Torah values into all aspects of everyday life. Living in Jerusalem and being surrounded by other Jews who are continually striving to better themselves encourages students to maximize their potential as a Jews.

Since returning from Israel, I have been living in Passaic, NJ and working as an Information Security Engineer. After 2 incredibly moving years of being surrounded by Machon Yaakov staff who continue to give themselves completely to their students, I was inspired to try to give back myself. I started tutoring a student in Arkansas through Partners in Torah, an experience that has benefited me more than I could have ever imagined.

___

___

Shlomo S. 2005

___

B.S. UPenn
MBA Harvard Business School

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?
I grew up in Venezuela where I learned windsurfing and studied industrial engineering. After Chavez came to power I moved to the US where I completed a masters in Biomedical Engineering at UPenn and worked in strategy consulting for a few years before starting the MBA program at Harvard Business School.

During the summer between my first and second year of MBA, I met my wife and together we decided to take some time off from “life” and go to Israel to learn in Yeshiva/Seminary. A few weeks later I was unpacking my luggage in Machon Yaakov.

After Machon Yaakov, my wife and I decided to spend some additional time learning Torah in Jerusalem before going back to Boston to finish the MBA. It was the right decision: as I was more mature and focused I was able to get more out of it. After finishing the MBA I founded a startup in telehealth aiming to deliver cost effective health care solutions in Latin America.

I am now living in Miami- juggling my time between my wife and two kids, the startup and my learning. I am even fortunate to be able to do some teaching in Judaism once in a while.

Machon Yaakov has been the most unique opportunity I ever had. Besides learning the basics of Torah and Jewish values I was able to build the foundations of my marriage and family. It was a truly transformational experience were I was able to cultivate deep relationships with exceptional and inspiring Rebbeim and fellow students. I still treasure these relationships very dearly and they continue to be role models in my day to day life.

___

___

Aaron N. 2008

Aaron N

___

B.S. Elementary Education, University of Michigan

Why did you decide to attend Machon Yaakov?
Before attending Machon Yaakov, I was enrolled in an Elementary Education Teachers Certification Program in the School of Education at the University of Michigan. During one of my breaks, I attended Rabbi Jacobowitz’s one month “YeshivaLite” program based out of Machon Yaakov. After many hours and discussions with both the Rabbium and the students at Machon Yaakov, I concluded it was necessary to devote an extended period of time learning in order to further my growth in Torah observance.

After leaving Machon Yaakov I returned to Detroit Michigan. Currently my wife and I are still in school and are continuing our education. I plan on graduating this April with a bachelor’s degree and teacher certification in Elementary Education. In the upcoming year I plan finding a job teaching Elementary School in the Metro Detroit area.

 

__