As I recall, we met one evening in June at Carey’s apartment and I told him about our plans for the new yeshiva. He asked lots and lots of questions about our plans, the staff, the student outlook, the relationship with Machon Shlomo, etc., etc. – and overall was very enthusiastic, telling me that he would get back to me after thinking about it. I don’t honestly remember if it was the same evening – I actually think that it was because I have a memory of standing down the street from his home on the Upper West side and receiving a call asking me to come back. There he told me that he wanted to fund half the cost of the building. What amazed me was not only his generosity, but also the fact that the deal was contingent upon my not disclosing him as the donor. Modesty and generosity in one amazing act. That donation in effect set us upon our feet.
First off, it dramatically lessened the pressure on me and allowed me to come back to Israel and focus more of my time on building the yeshiva, teaching, counseling and helping shepherd Machon Yaakov through its first critical year, while at the same time planning and executing the large-scale renovation that we’d need to make the new building ready for Fall of 2006 (year 2). It also made fundraising the balance of the building a reality over the next few years, having put such a firm foundation in place for us. I can’t describe the gravity and importance of that moment in the life of the yeshiva and my own ability to function as I’d intended – as director and teacher – and not just as a full-time fundraiser.
We are now nearly halfway through our 12th year as a yeshiva and 11th in the building. More than 200 students have passed through those doors, many of them changing their lives and priorities and going on to lead exemplary lives of family building, community activism, ethical conduct and philanthropy. For more than a decade the building is our secret weapon – its charm, functionality and special atmosphere captivate all who enter into it. It has remained the perfect environment for our students and staff alike.
Carey has remained a strong supporter, advisor and friend to the yeshiva, its students and alumni and to me personally all these years. He has helped enable our efforts to bring young Jews back to their heritage in a powerful and palpable way. Hashem should bless thim with health, peace, prosperity and nachas from his children, and we should all merit to continue our holy work together.