For over 50 years Rabbi Brovender has taught thousands of students from all around the world. This week we introduce you to Rabbi Yisrael Cohn. Yisrael works for the Jerusalem Municipality Aliyah department assisting new Olim integrating into the city. He also teaches Torah at Machon Meir and in the Jerusalem community of Katamon, where he lives with his wife and children.
How did you meet Rabbi Brovender?
I met Rav Brovender for the first time in London. Hannah and I were planning Aliyah and I was looking for a place to study in Israel. Rabbi Brovender is so unassuming; we sat and chatted for a few minutes after he gave a shiur and then he invited us to come and join the Kollel. His love of Torah and love of people is such a wonderful combination and I wanted to learn from that.
What do you find most important or striking about the “Brovender Method” – his unique way of teaching?
I had the honor of learning with Rabbi Brovender one on one during lunch break once a week. That in itself is a great gift, that he was willing to give of his time each week to learn with students one on one. We learned Chumash with Rashi and we studied the story of Joseph and his brothers. Our learning was slow and thorough, considering every word. We read words I had seen many times before, but he brought new depth and meaning to the text. I think of his observations every year when we return to those Parshiot.
When it comes to Torah learning, what were you most drawn to after learning with Rabbi Brovender?
I learned from Rabbi Brovender to take Torah learning seriously and also to take people seriously. I remember the students who received daily visits from Rabbi Brovender in hospital. I was Av Bayit in the Yeshiva and saw how he used wisdom and sensitivity to help students in difficult situations. The care, guidance and support that Hannah and I received from Rabbi and Rebbetzin Brovender during the first years of our marriage helped us make the decisions we made and bring us to where we are today.
What lesson or specific Torah that you learned from Rabbi Brovender, do you keep coming back to or carry with you wherever you go?
I spent the Yamim Noraim in Yeshiva for four years, and heard Rabbi Ebner daven Shacharit and Rabbi Brovender daven Mussaf. There was music in the Yeshiva all year round, on Shabbatot and Chagim, but on the Yamim Noraim, it became more intense. There were moments of joy, intimacy, fear, and sometimes pain. Their melodies allowed us all to experience the emotions of Yamim Noraim. Even today, when I daven as a Baal Tefilla in our local shul, I hear their tunes in my ears as we pray.