Get More Enthusiasm for Your Judaism!
INTERNET RADIO COMES ALIVE IN MONSEY
BY: FERN SIDMAN
Anyone familiar with the glorious history of Jewish talk radio in the United States will surely recall the name of one of its chief progenitors. Back in the early 1980s, the redoubtable Rabbi Yaakov Spivak began his illustrious career on a small AM station in the backwoods of Staten Island with then partner Zev Brenner, and today he single-handedly commands the airwaves from his state-of-the-art facility in Monsey, New York.
Attracting a panoply of listeners from the tri-state area as well as a varied national audience, Rabbi Spivak and his cast of vibrant radio personalities can be heard on the ElectroVision Media web site known as Jewish Radio Network, www.jewishradionetwork.net each evening (commercial free) from Monday through Thursday from 7:00 - 10:00 pm, Eastern time. (For those without internet access, Rabbi Spivak can also be heard on radio station WSNR - 620 on the AM dial at 7:00 pm and is simulcast on WRKL 910 AM as well.)
Subsequent to Rabbi Spivak's informative daily call-in news program at 7:00 pm, a real "powerhouse" lineup has been assembled for his listening audience. "I made it my business to provide quality programming for those listening to my show, so I am proud to have Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, Rabbi Shmuel Greenhaus and renowned educator Tova Cohen on board with us," says Rabbi Spivak.
Rabbi Mirocznik, the director of alumni affairs at the Ayshel Avraham Rabbinical Seminary, from where he received semicha, is also an esteemed attorney from Staten Island. This young masmid (dilligent Torah learner) had been a talmid at the Chaim Berlin yeshiva in Brooklyn for many years and with the knowledge that he's accrued, Rabbi Mirocznik has dedicated himself to providing his audience with a scholarly hour-long Talmud class with a particular focus on Gemorah Sanhedrin. "Comparing and contrasting Jewish law and laws of the Western non-Jewish world is one of the many topics that I cover, along with imparting practical applications in our everyday lives,", says Rabbi Mirocznik. He also delves into the treasures of the Mishna through the modalities of a modern lens and gives full exploration of the genesis of original sources.
Eager to understand the views of his audience, Rabbi Mirocznik opens the phones every Wednesday evening as he hosts "Frank Talk" from 7:30 - 8:00 pm. Presenting a thorough examination of contemporary issues facing the Jewish world, he culls classic Jewish sources from both the Mishna and Gemorah in a lively sermon-like program. Scholars and lay leaders alike often appear as guests; with each contributing their own vast wealth of wisdom and insight.
As the ever growing field of kashrus seems more complex and incomprehensible to the average Jew, the affable Rabbi Shmuel Greenhaus simplifies and conveys elucidation of these issues in his program entitled, "Kosher Kitchen" that airs every Thursday evening between 8:45 and 9:00 pm. "Most people listening at this hour are preparing their Shabbos meals and frequently they find themselves in a conundrum when issues of kashrus arise," says Rabbi Greenhaus. As a Lubavitcher rabbi and a renowned expert in the Yoreh Deah section of the Shulchan Aruch, Rabbi Greenhaus has earned the respect of his colleagues as Chief Field Mashgiach for United Kosher Supervision. He is also a musmach of the Ayshel Avraham Rabbinical Seminary. His base of operations is Huntington, Long Island where he has his own shul and where his congregants flock to hear his timely shiurim.
Passion, extensive knowledge and dedication are the three buzz words to describe Mrs. Tova Cohen, a Monsey wife and mother who has achieved a stellar reputation in the field of chinuch. Hosting her own program called "Parsha Plus" every Thursday evening between 9:00 and 9:45, Mrs. Cohen delivers an exceptionally well researched parsha class; drawing wisdom from all of the classic commentators along with reflections on both communal and personal issues that effect all of our lives.
A graduate of Teacher’s Institute for Women of Yeshiva University, Mrs. Cohen studied in Israel as part of the program. She also holds a degree in accounting from New York University. Aside from her private accounting practice, she has taught in Jewish high schools for a number of years. "I have discovered that when teaching at Jewish schools, intertwining both business management and Torah has helped many students understand that our life of Torah dedication accompanies us throughout our daily lives. Moreover, it also enhances it and assists us in always making intelligent, appropriate and ethical decisions; thus allowing us to contribute to many Kiddushei Hashem", says Mrs. Cohen.
Never one to shy away from confronting polemical issues head-on, Rabbi Spivak has established a reputation as an erudite spokesman on Torah perspectives pertaining to matters that mean the most to the Jewish community. "What inspired me to go into radio was the testimony of a woman at the trial of Adolf Eichmann, back in 1960," says Rabbi Spivak. "She said that when she told a local community leader in her village in Europe that Jews were being killed in the forest by Nazis, the leader turned around and called her crazy. I was heartbroken to learn that during the nadir of modern Jewish history, there was a catastrophic shortage of leaders who were willing to lead their flock through the terror that engulfed them during the nightmarish years of the Holocaust. It was then that I feverishly prayed to the Almighty, importuning Him to grant me the strength, wisdom and courage to reach as many Jews as possible; to be a purveyor of the timeless and eternal wisdom of the Torah and to shine a light on the abject silence of the feeble establishment while providing clarity in an otherwise obfuscated Jewish world," he intoned.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Rabbi Spivak recalls his formative years. "I didn't exactly grow up in a teeming Jewish neighborhood. Contrary to today’s thriving Orthodox Jewish community in Atlanta, in those days my father and mother were almost the only Orthodox Jews under the age of 70 in town. We wound up there because my maternal grandfather, who was steeped in Torah learning but also had a penchant for farming, moved down there."
Leaving home at age 12 to learn in yeshiva, Rabbi Spivak made his way to the Chofetz Chaim yeshiva in Baltimore and then on to the venerable Ner Yisroel yeshiva where he learned under its Rosh Yeshiva; the legendary Torah giant, HaGaon HaRav Yaakov Yitzchak Ruderman, ZT"L. It was there that Rabbi Spivak received his rabbinical ordination (semicha) and began his personal trajectory as a rebbe and educator, working in yeshivos around the country and on college campuses.
The profound love of Torah learning that Rabbi Spivak was imbued with during his years at Ner Yisroel remain imbedded in the fabric of his being. To that end, he labored assiduously to establish the Ayshel Avraham Rabbinical Seminary in Monsey; a genuine Makom Torah (place of Torah learning) that would provide the Jewish community with exceptionally dedicated and exemplary rabbis, teachers and leaders.
As the dean of the seminary, Rabbi Spivak has seen its exponential growth throughout the years, with graduates assuming challenging roles in communities, schools and synagogues throughout the world. "There is no doubt that broadcasting and writing are such a major part of my life; but my real love; my real passion is being Osek B'Torah (immersed in Torah) and watching a new and exuberant generation of rabbis help to shape our national destiny. I simply cannot thank Hashem enough for this unique opportunity."
Putting pen to paper came second nature to Rabbi Spivak when he was called upon to write a regular column at The Jewish Press newspaper in New York back in the early 1980s. The post-Holocaust era of idealism saw rabbis and leaders who promulgated a plan for concrete activism on behalf of Jewish causes including combating the alarming escalation of Neo-Nazi activity; the battle for the freedom of oppressed Jews around the world and for bold advocacy on behalf of Israel in light of increased international acrimony. "I wrote about many hot button issues in those days and generated much controversy, but what concerned me most was the pervasive assimilation and intermarriage rates among young Jews and the deafening apathy of those same Jews on college campuses. Strengthening Jewish identity through activism brought many young Jews back to their faith because we provided them with a Jewish cause to champion."
Rabbi Spivak is clear and unequivocal: "It is our fervent hope that through accessing our programs on the internet, we can and will make a difference amongst our brethren. Our goal is simple: to educate, to inspire and to enlighten our listeners. By doing so, may we all make positive and productive changes in our lives, hence making each of us a harbinger of the redemption."