I was blessed to learn in Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh during the years 5758-5759 (1997-1999, together with my dear friend Shlomo Greenwald, the editor of this newspaper). From time to time, if my attention wandered (more often than I care to admit) or if I was in a contemplative mood, I’d stare up at the convex ceiling of the iconic beit midrash and try and count how many Magen David signs were formed by the lattice pattern made of metal beams, and take note of the light fixtures that lined the sides of the room that had the same shape.
This past spring, the yeshiva undertook a renovation of the beit midrash. One of the major projects, apparently, was the removal of the Magen David pattern and these light fixtures, painting the ceiling white and installing beautiful chandeliers instead. The pictures the yeshiva sent out after the renovation was complete were jarring. It was difficult to get used to something so different from what I remembered, even though it has been too long since I was in the yeshiva. I had to admit, though, that the renovation was also beautiful; The room was much lighter and looked more elegant.
I reflected that it is not the Magen David that offers the yeshiva its protection, and it is not the light fixtures that provide its light. It is the Torah the yeshiva has taught for 70 years, that I was fortunate to learn there in my formative years: a Torah of diligence and excitement, a Torah of intellectual honesty and curiosity, a Torah of love for G-d, His people, and His homeland. The ceiling (and many other physical aspects of the yeshiva) may change, but I will always be proud to call myself a talmid.