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Thursday, July 10, 2014

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Yeshiva starts joint learning-career program

Tags: Jewish learning
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TORONTO — Yeshiva Darchei Torah, an Orthodox boys’ high school, has embarked on a partnership with Hadracha, a privately funded non-profit organization that offers free career, employment and business counselling to the Jewish community.

The new initiative combines the school’s morning “Beis Medrash” (learning) program for post-high school males with career counselling in the afternoon. The organization will prepare “career destination reports” in areas such as accounting, MBA studies, the computer industry, construction trades and law, with information to help students choose a career path.

Hadracha, which launched formally in November 2010, was started by a small group of young yeshiva graduates, two of whom had lost money after starting a business together, according to Yis Cohen, the organization’s executive director.

They realized that if they had received more information ahead of time, they could have been more successful, he added.

Although training and aptitude testing are available in the greater community, Cohen, who used to manage JVS Toronto’s Parnassaworks Canada, its Jewish community initiative, said that many people in the Jewish community don’t avail themselves of those opportunities.

Graduates of Darchei Torah typically go to Israel for one to five years of learning after graduation, according to the school’s executive director, Jeff Toledano. When they return, a number of them continue their Jewish learning on a part-time or full-time basis and pursue secular studies in the evening or online.

More than 85 per cent of Darchei Torah graduates apply to university, and of that group, more than 95 per cent are accepted, Toledano said.

Hadracha will “help the boys identify more clearly what their choices are.”

The Hadracha/Beis Medrash program is open to graduates of other yeshivas too, Toledano said. He noted that the school’s location, a five-minute walk from the Wilson subway station, is an asset.

The school originally approached Hadracha about setting up a partnership, Toledano said, noting that “when a young man goes to yeshiva for two or three years and comes back, sometimes what he wanted to do when he was 17 isn’t what he wants to do now… This will help the boys zero in on their interests.”

As well, Cohen noted, it’s important for clients to know their strengths and weaknesses. “You might want to think about finding a business partner whose strengths complement your weaknesses, or making sure you hire one.”

Cohen, Hadracha’s only staff person, sees all incoming clients (to date almost 300 people) and has a growing list of individuals willing to work as mentors. He said Hadracha is “a useful mechanism for linking people.”

When considering a career, Cohen said, personality is “probably the strongest element that should be considered.”

In the Orthodox community, and particularly in the chassidic community, young people have “often internalized more strongly the Jewish component” of their education and have not focused as much on the secular component. Hadracha’s services offer “a tool they can use to make future-oriented decisions about where to direct their energies.”

“It’s a tough economy,” he added. “The cost of living Jewishly is enormous.”

Further information is available from Yeshiva Darchei Torah, at 416-782-7974, ext. 227, or Hadracha at 416-839-2500.

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