"Before I came to this school, the Torah was something
distant. It wasn't a living thing; it was more of a history
book. But today, I know that the Torah is the book that
contains all of the wisdom of the world and the keys to
understanding. I leave this school a better person than when
I came in. And it didn't happen by itself. It is all thanks
to the staff."
It was with these words that Shimon Shafir, a senior at the
Shuvu Yerushalayim Boys' High School, thanked Shuvu for the
opportunity to learn and grow in Torah, at a moving
graduation ceremony held on the 10th of Tammuz/July 10.
In attendance were dozens of staff, family members and
friends, as well as Shuvu Rabbinical Advisor in Eretz Yisroel
Rav Yisroel Ganz and Shuvu Director in Eretz Yisroel Rabbi
Chaim Michoel Guttermann.
They were celebrating more than a high school graduation;
they were celebrating the fact that the graduates -- and many
of their families -- have grown closer to Torah and mitzvos
thanks to the Shuvu education they've received.
Five members of the 12-member graduating class are continuing
their Torah education at various yeshivos gedolos,
this fall. The rest will be attending religious technical
schools such as Machon Lev-The Jerusalem College of
Technology and programs that combine Torah study with army
"We are especially proud of this year's Yerushalayim
graduating class -- our second," said Rabbi Guttermann.
"Nearly fifty percent will be learning full-time in yeshivos
in the fall, and even those who have chosen to attend other
schools are leaving Shuvu committed to a Torah way of
With Darchei Noam
Helping Russian youth develop a lasting commitment to a Torah
way of life was the goal of the Shuvu Yerushalayim Boys' High
School when it was founded in 1998. Although at first, many
parents agreed to send their sons to the school because it
offers a high-level education and an atmosphere conducive to
learning -- a far cry from the crime and violence-ridden
local public schools -- most found that the school has much
more to offer, namely a Torah way of life.
During the ceremony, another graduate, Shlomo Cherebinski,
shared with the audience his personal journey to
Yiddishkeit that began when he walked through the
doors of Shuvu Yerushalayim.
"When I came to this school," he began, "I was totally
secular. I was interested in Judaism, but nothing more than
that. Today I consider myself a mekayem Torah and
mitzvos, and I plan to learn in yeshiva next year.
"I often ask myself," he continued, "how this change came
about. I think it had a lot to do with the way the school is
run. No one ever forced me to do anything, but they were
always ready to teach whoever wanted to learn. It was through
this darchei noam that I got where I am today."
From Darkness To Light
If there was one message that came through loud and clear at
the graduation, it was the dramatic impact the Shuvu network
is having on Russian immigrant families -- and of the great
need for such a network.
Shuvu, however, like many other religious educational
networks in Eretz Yisroel, is now facing drastic cuts to its
budget as a result of across-the-board government budget
cuts. Yet its staff remains determined to not only keep all
of its schools and programs operational, but also continue to
expand in order to meet the growing demand.
"Last year we served 13,500 Russian immigrant children and
their families throughout Eretz Yisroel," says Rabbi
Guttermann. "This year enrollment is expected to rise by 10
percent, and we remain committed to giving these children a
As the graduation ceremony concluded, HaRav Yisroel Ganz gave
each graduate a personal brochoh for future success
and growth in Torah and yiras shomayim.