Changed My Life

school-apple-on-deskWho affected you? Which teachers or rebbeim have had a positive impact on your life? We’d love to hear your stories. Please send them to with the subject line: “Changed My Life,” and you may get published in an upcoming issue!

When I think back to my days as a student, I can single out three individuals, all of whom were different from one another but together they helped me pave my own path as a religious Jew in the modern world.

As a young child of four or five, before I was eligible to enroll in Torah Vodaath (the yeshivah did not yet have a kindergarten class), I attended public school. But in the afternoon, I was greeted by the shining countenance of Rabbi Elchanan Scheinerman, my talmud Torah teacher. Rabbi Scheinerman did not only give his heart and soul to his young pupils when teaching us the Aleph Beis, he exuded love and warmth. The gentle manner in which he dealt with us rowdy American kids is something I cannot forget. Learning Torah from Rabbi Scheinerman was such a sweet experience that more than fifty years later, when I think of this kindly man, I can still taste a sweetness in my mouth.

As I got older, there were other towering figures who influenced my way of thinking. At Yeshiva University, I was privileged to learn Gemara with Rabbi Israel Wohlgelernter. As a teacher of Talmud, Rabbi Wohlgelernter was energetic and dynamic–he was very different from the European-born rebbeim I was familiar with. A master pedagogue, Rabbi Wohlgelernter’s superb techniques drew me into Gemara. He was a rebbe who gave me a special gift: a lifelong love of learning. For that, I am forever grateful.

—Gerald Schreck, Chairman of the Jewish Action Committee