Rabbinical Seminary of Yeshiva Yesoda Hatorah was officially started in America by Congregation Adas Yereim in 1961. Its origin dates back well over one hundred years, to Vienna, Austria. For hundreds of years before World War II, Eastern Europe was recognized as a spiritual center of world Jewry. In such atmosphere, over a century ago, Congregation Adas Yereim was established and headed by Rabbi Spitzer Congregation Adas Yereim, under the leadership of its Rav, provided a spiritual center for four thousand families in the divine law and its spirit. In order to perpetuate the seed for spiritual and intellectual leadership, the first schools of the Congregation were established and headed by the able leadership of world-renowned Dayan, Possek Rabbi Yonossen Steif. His mastery of Jewish scholarship made this institution into a substantial academic center.
Just before World War II, the Yeshiva was at its peak, providing education from kindergarten to the post-graduate rabbinical level.
This community, as well as thousands of other European communities, was caught up in one of history’s darkest chapters, the Holocaust era. After a glorious history in Europe, the end came to all physical accomplishments with the total destruction of the community during World War II.
A handful of survivors of the tragic genocide settled in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. They were the nucleus of a Congregation in whose minds the picture of a flourishing religious community was as clear as reality.
With the help of the great faith and endless energy of Rabbi Yonossen Steif, the new Congregation of Adas Yereim was established. The establishment provided immediate uplifting in spiritual matters for its followers and schools for their children. Classes were first conducted at 27-31 Lee Avenue and at 180 Division Avenue. As the children grew older, new classes were started, and soon a Mesivta was added.
The time for the establishment of a Rabbinical Seminary appeared to be ripe in 1958. It was not until 1961 that the Rabbinical Seminary of Adas Yereim became a reality, under the sage leadership of Rabbi Ezriel Yehuda Lebovitz, successor to Rabbi Steif. The Seminary was founded at 185 Wilson Street, in Brooklyn, where it is presently located, in order to meet the needs of the growing student population and community. An institution that started out as a one-classroom/library unit has spread over two locations, including a modern, suburban summer campus, in upstate New York.
Rabbinical Seminary of Yeshiva Yesoda Hatorah continues to pursue its educational mission with vigor, to produce dedicated laymen who serve in their chosen professions while continuing to manifest profound scholarship, love of Torah, and commitment to the Jewish heritage.
OBJECTIVES OF THE SEMINARY
The mission of the Rabbinical Seminary of Yeshiva Yesoda Hatorah is not unique. It is pretty much defined by the culture it strives to promote. It is modeled after the traditional Yeshiva of Europe. As such, it fills an essential role in advancing the tradition of Torah Lishmah, study for its own sake. First and foremost, the Rabbinical Seminary of Yeshiva Yesoda Hatorah is trying to maintain its status as a fountainhead for the nurturing of scholars who will contribute creatively to the strengthening and preservation of the Jewish people and its heritage. As an educational institution, it is the sacred responsibility of the Rabbinical Seminary to find the best and most effective means to transmit these traditional values to its students.
Administering to the needs of a Jewish community at large may be expressed through other, related professions, for which rabbinical training is a valuable preparation:
- Homes for the aged
Through the commitment of the Rabbinical Seminary, the rabbinical student will hopefully perpetuate civilization’s oldest and finest heritage.
It is the intention and deep hope of the institution that students completing the program and curriculum and will be better prepared, both intellectually and practically, to face the challenges of the day.