13 Seconds with Raphael Kleinman and Raphael Mifsud – Alumni, Yeshiva Gedolah Ohr Hatorah

BJH: Great to be here with 2 Raphaels! Where are you originally from and how did you come to Baltimore?

R. Kleinman: I grew up in Brooklyn. When I was graduating 12th grade from Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway, my Rebbe, Rabbi Goldman, and the Rosh Hayeshiva, Rabbi Yaakov Bender, encouraged me to look at a new Yeshiva opening in Baltimore – Yeshiva Gedolah Ohr Hatorah. I came to Yeshiva here and the rest is history.

R. Mifsud:  My story is similar. I grew up in Detroit and came to Baltimore to attend Yeshiva Gedolah Ohr Hatorah after learning in Yeshiva Bais Moshe in Scranton. Ohr Hatorah was starting its 3rd year when I arrived, so I had the advantage learning the ropes from the Talmidim already there, like Raphael Kleinman!

BJH: I’ve heard a little bit about Yeshiva Ohr Hatorah but I don’t know a lot. Tell me about it.

R. Kleinman: The Yeshiva was founded by Rabbi Dovid Hoffman and Rabbi Moshe Aharon Rosenbaum 10 years ago –

BJH: The Yeshiva is already 10 years old?! Wow! I didn’t realize that!

R. Kleinman: Yes! It’s in its 10th year now. Time flies!

BJH: So tell me more about it. What interested you and brought you to Ohr Hatorah?

R. Mifsud: Three things stood out to me; the amazing dedication that the Roshei Yeshiva and Rebbeim have for every talmid, the perfect balance between keeping a full Yeshiva schedule with all sedarim but still giving every Bochur the space they need to be themselves and the tight bond the Talmidim have among themselves. Everyone is everyone else’s friend. When I walk into the Yeshiva now, I can’t tell who has been there three weeks and who has been there three years! It’s that kind of special achdus.

R. Kleinman: The goal of the Yeshiva was to provide a small setting for us to have the personal attention from the Rebbeim to really learn the sugyos properly, get a Rebbe for life and grow as Bnei Torah. They provided all that and more!

BJH: How many Bochurim did the Yeshiva have in its first year?

R. Kleinman: We started with just 9 Bochurim and grew to 12 as the year went on. It’s amazing to see how the Yeshiva has grown – this year they have 45 Bochurim and 15 in the Kollel!

BJH: A Kollel too?! I didn’t know about that!

R. Mifsud: Sure! Once the Yeshiva moved into its own Bais Medrash on Bancroft Road they had room to expand. The Kollel is tremendous – it adds to the kol Torah and the yungerleit learn with the Bochurim during the afternoon seder. I wish they would’ve had the Kollel when I was a Bochur!

BJH: What would you tell a 12th grader or perspective parent thinking about Ohr Hatorah?

R. Kleinman: You won’t regret it! The Yeshiva may be bigger now than it was in my days but the learning, personal attention and dedication of the Rebbeim are stronger than ever.

R. Mifsud: If you are looking for a small Yeshiva where you will be noticed and advanced to the next level, Ohr Hatorah is for you. No matter what part of the country you come from, or what high school you attended, you will feel right at home in Ohr Hatorah. 

BJH: As a Bais Medrash for the first few years after High School, Ohr Hatorah is a stepping stone to the next level. Where did you go after Ohr Hatorah?

R. Kleinman: Both of us went to Eretz Yisrael to learn. Most of the Ohr Hatorah Bochurim do. Some to The Mir, others to smaller Yeshivos. 

R. Mifsud: After The Mir I came back to Baltimore to be close to my Rebbeim. My Rebbe, Rabbi Benzion Lapidus, was instrumental in guiding me through shidduchim.  

R. Kleinman: My shidduch was made by the Ohr Hatorah Rebbeim! The Roshei Yeshiva and Rebbeim are constantly in touch with the Alumni, guiding us, whether in shidduchim, Kollel years or starting out in the working world.

BJH: What do you do now?

R. Mifsud: I am the owner and broker at Green Summit Realty. But more importantly, I am involved in helping the Baltimore Community and my shul, Mercaz Torah UTefillah (Rabbi Eichenstein) including giving a daily Dirshu Halacha shiur.

R. Kleinman: As the Director of Operations for Mercaz Torah UTefillah, I oversee the daily functioning and maintenance of the shul. I also organize the myriad programs and chessed initiatives of the shul, such as AIM, which provides free meals, babysitting and cleaning help to anyone in the Baltimore Community when they have a baby.

BJH: Sounds like Mercaz Torah UTefillah has benefitted from Ohr Hatorah!

R. Mifsud: Not just Mercaz Torah UTefillah! There are over 115 Ohr Hatorah alumni overall, and more than 25 married alumni living here in Baltimore! Ohr Hatorah Talmidim are making an impact across the entire community. 

BJH: It’s been great talking with you both! Anything else you’d like to say to the community?

R. Kleinman: Ohr Hatorah is making a difference in Bochurim’s lives and in the Baltimore Community. You can make a difference by contributing to their annual campaign! Visit radiatingtorah.com on Jan. 1-2. It will be tzedakah money well spent!

R. Mifsud: I know that my Rov, Rabbi Eichenstein, has encouraged the support of Ohr Hatorah. Other Rabbonim, including Rabbi Hopfer, Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz, Rabbi Sheftel Neuberger zt”l and yblc”t R’ Boruch Neuberger have encouraged support as well. Ohr Hatorah has established itself as an invaluable asset to the community. Be sure to support the alumni page at radiatingtorah.com/alumni and may you be zoche to bracha and hatzlacha!

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