The following are edited extracts from letters received from this month’s Montefiore semicha graduates.
I am moved nearly to tears as I think of the opportunity we have been afforded through the generosity of the Montefiore Endowment. The four years spent in the kollel enabled me to learn Torah to a high level, to complete a university degree and to mature along the way . . . . . . The trustees spared no effort to ensure that we were well-fed, well-taught, and that our Semikha carried the weight of serious Torah scholarship . . . I am indebted to the Endowment in a way that can only be repaid through a life dedicated to the ideals that the Kollel represents.
. . . The trustees ensured the continuing success of the Kollel by forming a bond with Eretz Hemdah, which gave us exposure to further high calibre teachers and gave the course the backing of a distinguished institution . . . Rabbi Levy, you provided spiritual leadership and the benefit of long experience: your messages of tolerance and avoidance of using Torah as a sole source of mental/physical support resonated well. Lucien, you have been an inspiration as a man of many talents with wide-ranging and well-assembled knowledge . . . Rabbi Asi who delivered such polished shiurim was always calm, patient with never any trace of discouragement . . .
I have learnt important character lessons from my teachers. Energy and perseverance from Rav Livnat. Pleasantness of countenance from Rav Levy. Authority with an easy-going style from Lucien. Gentleness and readiness to hold one’s ground in debate from Rav Asi.
Where do I begin? So much to be grateful for. So much to appreciate and acknowledge. You provided us with a structure to enable us to gain knowledge and understanding in our Semicha studies and in many related subjects . . . We had the rare privilege to receive thought-provoking and fascinating lectures on Jewish History and other civilisations from Lucien, as well as guidance in public speaking, counselling and pastoral care from “A” class rabbis and educators.
I am sure you know and appreciate how lucky the Kollel is to have two special diamonds in Rav Asi and Rav Ofer . . . who both have the rare combination of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, patience, care, empathy and most importantly humility . . . I don’t think I would have made it throughout these years without Rav Asi and, with tears of appreciation, I thank him from the bottom of my heart . . . Thank you too Rav Ofer for all your time and patience and for always making yourself available: your enviable reputation as a tremendous Talmid Chacham, someone with refined middot who creates an atmosphere of calmness and intellectual maturity combined with humility, is richly deserved.