How’s The Kollel Working Out At Beth Jacob?

On the surface, it looks like a mismatch.

A source told me in September of 2007:

This Kollel will be housed at Beth Jacob — one of the shuls whose black-hatted offspring, as you report, now attend AT.  How does one explain this sharing of facilities with a "competitor"?

You must first understand that this new Kollel, like Adas Torah, is a spin-off of a third, established, organization, the Los Angeles Kollel.  One of the Kollel’s leading rabbis, Rabbi Baruch Gradon, wishes to make inroads into the Pico-Robertson community.  Rabbi Gradon’s erudition, offered in a soft British brogue, is very appealing to the well-educated Pico-Robertson crowd.

Also, Rabbi Weil of Beth Jacob is a huge admirer of Rabbi Gradon.  Nothwithstanding the Kollel’s Lakewood affiliation, Rabbi Weil appreciates the intellectual gifts of the leaders of this venerable ultra-Orthodox institution.  In fact, this coming Shabbat, Beth Jacob will host the Executive Director of the Lakewood Yeshiva, Rabbi Aron Kotler, who shares the same name as his grandfather, who founded this flagship institution of the Yeshiva world.

All very interesting, but there is also an element of BJ-YICC rivalry going on here.  Adas Torah is perceived as a break-away from YICC, not as a break-away from BJ (which YICC was, a generation ago).  The BJ offspring who attend AT left BJ long ago, when Rabbis Lamm and Weiss were at the helm.  Now they are leaving YICC.  Comes along Rabbi Weil, steers BJ to the right, accepts (and possibly encourages) a Lakewood-affiliated outpost in Pico-Robertson, and tells these young families who left YICC for something more serious:  We support the goals of Adas Torah.  And you can always consider Beth Jacob your second home.

Rabbi Gradon is smart. He got the most liberal rabbis he could find at Lakewood, those who were the least opposed to secular learning aka college.

The kollel is at Beth Jacob but they are not part of Beth Jacob. They go their separate ways. They do do some learning with the Beth Jacob members in the evenings.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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