Most students who enroll in Yeshiva high schools where black hats and coats are the daily uniform don't expect much in the way of extra-curricular activities.
But students enrolling in Yeshiva Shaarei Arazim in Monsey, New York, are getting a big surprise when they find Chinese acrobatics and marching bands among the available choices.
As Sandy Eller reported in vosizneias.com,
“We need to give our talmidim an opportunity to shine,” explained Rabbi Zev Freundlich, menahel of Mesivta Shaarei Arazim. “All children want to look good, they want to feel good. If we don’t give them a chance to get that geshmak in yeshiva, they will find ways outside of the yeshiva environment to fulfill that need.”Below are two videos showing the boys of Mesivta Shaarei Arazim perfoming Chinese acrobatics on Lag B'Omer and playing in a marching band at a local wedding.
The yeshiva hired Frank Adams, a former Olympic gymnast who is now a Monsey resident, to train the members of the acrobatic troupe. According to Adams, the three times a week, two hours workouts are extremely aggressive.
“The yeshiva rents out a local gym for the boys but this isn’t a quick gym workout,” explained Adams. “Most of these boys have no athletic experience other than an informal basketball or softball game and had never done a stretch in their lives. They do a full cardio warmup and a complete body stretch followed by a thorough gymnastics acrobatic workout but in no way does this ever take away from their learning. The boys don’t miss night seder, maariv or anything else. They may not get home till after eleven o’clock at night after a workout but they know they have to be in yeshiva for shachris the next day.”
“These boys have learned skills in becoming men as well as talmidei chochomim,” said Adams. “They learn about commitment, teamwork and character development. There is no way to succeed as part of an acrobatic troupe, in the Beis Medrash or in life, without these necessary skills.”
Mesivta Shaarei Arazim is also well known for its marching band, which has performed at countless weddings, dinners and other events for over six years. The band is taught by one of the secular studies teachers who also runs a professional marching band, and consists of approximately thirty students who perform in full dress uniforms. For most marching band members, it is the first time they have ever played an instrument.
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)
(A tip of the kippah to Sheila Zucker for bringing this video to our attention.)