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Rabbi Koby (centre) with his boys

 
Boys Town Jerusalem at Home with Rabbi Koby

April 14, 2016

 

 

 From the day that young Rabbi Yaakov “Koby” Artzi began his (first) job as the Dorm Parent for twenty-five tenth graders at Boys Town Jerusalem, life began to change in a big way. “We have come together; we care about each other, and we are building something meaningful for ourselves and others,” said 16-year-old Noam Yisraeli. “In short, it’s a revolution!!”

For this particular group of students, the revolution came none too soon. “Most come from broken homes or homes beset by illness and poverty.” notes registrar Rachel Cohen-Pur. “It was never easy for these boys to concentrate on their schoolwork or their future. That they have become strong, positive young men is a tribute to the energy and love that Rabbi Koby has given.”

The rabbi’s day begins at the crack of dawn. Quietly, without waking his wife or infant son, he cooks up a batch of hot cocoa to bring to “his boys” when he wakes them for morning prayers. At their breakfast together following services, Rabbi Koby makes time for a short inspirational message on Jewish ethics. After school, he is in the dorm to welcome the boys back for the afternoon and evening activities which they organize. “When I arrived on the job last year, most of the kids were glued to their mobile phones or sat around the TV in the evenings,” he recalled. “Now the phones have disappeared, and the TV has been off for months.” Instead, the tenth graders are occupied with projects that they initiated, from fixing up their rec room to writing a weekly newsletter to delving into Jewish sources in search of knowledge. Most important, there is plenty of time devoted to discussing the questions that fill the lives of these adolescent boys.

“Every boy – even from the best home – is full of doubts and challenges at this age,” Rabbi Koby explains. “Someone needs to show them the way, especially those who have no father. I want each boy to realize that he is very important and he has a place here. Mostly, I listen. The boys feel comfortable to open up about something painful at home or at school, and we work to solve the issue.”

Clearly, the results are…revolutionary. “Rabbi Koby’s Boys” are a strong, cohesive group with self-confidence and spirit. “Kids who are not in the dorms know that they are missing out,” says Shachar Mordechai. “We are creating a great place to live. We are even raising our own money to buy books, snacks, and more, but we are also taking responsibility for improving our environment and our Jewish knowledge.”

The boys are not alone in their growth. “I am gathering so much new understanding and strength from these students,” says the wise and wonderful Rabbi Koby, who is just under a decade older than “his boys. It is a beautiful revolution – that is working!”

Canadian Friends of Boys Town Jerusalem

 200-2788 Bathurst Street • Toronto • ON • M6B 3A3

Tel: 416.789.7241 • Fax 416.789.1090 •  TF  1.866.929.7241

 Email: [email protected] • Web www.btjcanada.com

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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