Telshe Yeshiva began another semester Aug. 5 with about 130 students and "a slew of young, talented staff," said Rabbi Zvi Belsky, executive vice president of the rabbinical college in Wickliffe.
"Today's students need young teachers who can relate to them, besides older, experienced rabbis everyone can look up to," Belsky said. "The older rabbis at the yeshiva wanted this. They searched for and hired these young people."
Telshe Yeshiva, an internationally known Orthodox institution for Talmud and Torah study, was founded in Telsiai, Lithuania, in 1875. After the fall of Lithuania to the German military in World War II, many students and faculty members fled, and the yeshiva was re-established in Cleveland in 1941.
"Telshe Yeshiva came to Cleveland because they wanted a challenge," Belsky said. "New York had many yeshivas already, and they felt coming to a community with a smaller number of Jews could have a greater impact."
After formally changing its name to the Rabbinical College of Telshe in 1954, the yeshiva relocated to its current campus at 28400 Euclid Ave. in 1957. It reached its peak enrollment of about 400 students around 1967, Belsky said.
Today, Telshe has about 80 students in its high school, including 33 new boys. It also offers graduate and post-graduate programs, and most students range in age from 13 to 25.
"Telshe Yeshiva has always stood for being a well-rounded Jew," Belsky said. "The institution is dedicated to teaching its students to excel in Torah scholarship, but it's also important to always act with a sense of duty to the betterment of the Jewish people."
Ed Small of Beachwood said he has studied at Telshe for about 17 years. He typically goes on Sunday for about two hours.
"Most Clevelanders don't realize what a treasure we have in Telshe Yeshiva and what a positive impact it's had on shaping our community for decades," Small said. "It's been such a strong influence on me and my family. I was fortunate to be introduced to it and welcomed to it."
Telshe's goal for the future, Belsky said, is "to continue the upward trend of enrollment, enabling the yeshiva to increase its influence in giving over its unique chinuch (pedagogical teaching)."