There’s the Super Bowl. Or, more importantly to some, there’s the Puppy Bowl. And next month, there’ll be a new addition to the lineup: the Torah Bowl.
Jarred Nisenfeld has wanted to hold a Torah Bowl for a while, and now he will have his chance.
He organized a GoFundMe campaign (gofundme.com/projectseedphilly) with the goal of raising $4,000 toward events and programs for an upcoming learning opportunity, Project Seed. A division of national organization Torah Umesorah, which offers training for day school teachers among other programs, Project Seed sends boys from different yeshivas to various communities for two or three weeks during the summer to offer learning opportunities.
From Aug. 3 to 17, a group of seven Monsey, N.Y. boys between 19 and 21 will visit three shuls in Northeast Philadelphia, along with Rabbi Daniel Lebowitz and his wife, who are coming from Lakewood, N.J.
Boys who participate in the sessions at Congregation Ahavas Torah, Congregation B’nai Israel-Ohev Zedek and Congregation Beth Medrash Harav B’nai Jacob will have opportunities to learn how to make their own tzitzit and properly blow a shofar.
“One of the most special parts of this is most of these boys generally have around three weeks of vacation in the summer — these boys are still learning in yeshiva up until July 16 or 19 — so they have around three weeks off in the summer, and they’re taking two of those weeks and giving them to us,” Nisenfeld said.
He’s particularly looking forward to learning to make his own pair of tzitzit as not many people have the opportunity to do so.
“It’ll be a nice experience,” he said, “and even myself, you go to a Judaica store to buy a pair of tzitzit, so to actually have the opportunity and to actually learn the halachos involved will just be a wonderful thing that most people probably haven’t experienced.”
Girls and women will have a chance to participate in erev Shabbat programs and other learning opportunities with the rebbetzin, as well, Nisenfeld noted.
Between the educational opportunities, there will be chances for fun, too.
A community carnival is also in the works on Aug. 13 on the grounds of Camp Achdus on Old Bustleton Avenue as a “thank you” to the students and rabbi for visiting .
But for him, a real highlight will be the Torah Bowl, which will take place Aug. 6 at B’nai Israel-Ohev Zedek.
Six to eight teams of boys in kindergarten through eighth grade will compete in a sports bracket format with questions worth different points until an ultimate champion is crowned. As they play, they’ll be munching on football-themed staples like wings and soda.
“I’ve always wanted to have a fun learning event for people and families that don’t watch the Super Bowl,” Nisenfeld said, “so it was always something I wanted to do on Super Bowl night but it kind of just really never came about. So we had an opportunity to do this and hopefully it works out well, I believe it will, and then we can have Torah Bowl 2 in February.”
There will be a halftime show with entertainment and the chance to win prizes, the costs of which will be covered by the GoFundMe, which will also help offset any expenses the rabbi and the boys may have during their visit.
So far, nearly $3,500 has been raised toward the GoFundMe campaign.
Nisenfeld is looking forward to the chance to continue Torah learning — which might be most important in the summertime when “learning” and school have become distant memories for many students.
“It’s an incredible opportunity to have seven bochurim come to your community on top of a rabbi and his rebbetzin for two weeks to inspire and to teach,” he said.
“Any additional type of learning is only going to benefit not only the community, but the world,” he added. “We’re probably going to have during the course of these two weeks well over 1,000 hours of Torah learning, which is just an incredible thing for a community to have.”
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