The 2018 Annual YES Banquet was a beautiful evening, celebrating YES’s 29th year of excellence in education and paying tribute to Rabbi Tuvia and Karen Torem, who received the Pillars of the Community Award.
The Torems have been an integral part of Milwaukee since they came in the late 1970s. Mrs. Torem has been teaching at YES since it opened in 1989. Rabbi Torem has been a key player in local kashrus, including the Kosher Supervisors of Wisconsin (“Wisconsin K”), in addition to teaching at Torah Academy of Milwaukee. The Torem’s chessed and friendship makes them beloved to the entire community.
Rabbi Aryeh Borsuk, Director of Development, opened the evening by discussing the role an elementary school plays in providing each student their internal ‘pillars,’ which include a Jewish education and a general studies education, as well as all of the middos tovos (character traits) we want in our children. As these children build their own pillars, they are equipped to become future ‘pillars of their communities.’ Rabbi Borsuk said that for all of the alumni of YES, “All we need to know, we learned in Morah Torem’s kindergarten. And it didn’t end in kindergarten, as all of the wonderful staff of YES teach and model the behaviors we want in our children, developing them into pillars of the future.”
Rabbi Dovid Kossowsky, principal, shared a Dvar Torah about the power words have to influence others and spur them to grow. He shared how the school’s year-long professional development theme, growth mindset, is impacting our students. The teachers have been focused on the benefits of praising hard work, rather than results. This is giving students an appreciation for their efforts, even when they are difficult. As a young student remarked, “I didn’t want to stop working on math, even though I knew painting would be easier. When you work on something hard until you succeed, you feel good about yourself.”
Tribute Video to Rabbi and Mrs. Torem
Professor Andrea Schneider, Board Chair of Milwaukee Jewish Federation, shared greetings from the Federation. She shared how the success of YES and the success of the Federation’s Annual Campaign are linked, and both indicate the strength and vitality of the Milwaukee community.
After a delicious dinner, served by Mr. Paci Elbaum and the staff of KMK Catering, the program focused on many of the wonderful traits of the Torems. Rabbi Borsuk spoke of their chesed, saying that all of their community work was an expression of their desire to help other people. Rabbi Benzion Twerski spoke of their grace in the face of the significant challenges they have faced, and how they have channeled those challenges into a way to grow and become better people.
The YES 2018 Banquet
A beautiful tribute video was shown, which highlighted the impact the Torems have on Milwaukee, from kindergarten to the entire community, from public roles to private acts of kindness.
Rabbi Torem closed the evening by thanking everyone for coming and supporting YES in their honor. He remarked that the root word of ‘ahavah,’ (love) is connected to the word for giving (‘hav’), and said that they when people gave to the school in their honor, they felt loved.
It was truly an inspiring and beautiful evening.
Special thanks to:
- Mr. Paci Elbaum and KMK catering, for making the evening beautiful and tasty.
- Four Points by Sheraton Milwaukee North, for once again hosting us and going above and beyond to take care of us.
- The Banquet Leadership Team of: Mrs. Leah Aviva Broch, Mrs. Linda Chernin, Mrs. Dana Margolis, Mrs. Rochel Robbins, and Mrs. Amelia Schmidt.
- The many volunteers who participated in the campaign and the event
- Our vendors who provided products for the evening, including Trader Joe’s, Kosherwine.com, and Bela Sabtina Premium Tea.