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Jewish Educational Trade School (JETS), the innovative Los Angeles-based yeshiva that combines Torah learning with real-world skills, celebrated the many accomplishments of our students and graduates, as well as the ordination of 17 Smicha students, at our June Banquet.

The banquet was emceed by Mendel Batashvili and began with introductory remarks by Founder and Director Rabbi Mayer Schmukler.

Rabbi Elchonon Tauber, the leading Dayan of the West Coast, who runs the Smicha ordination program, which includes student shluchim and older students, presented the certificates of achievement to the Smicha graduates: Mendel Marrus, Shimon Lang, Yisroel Friedman, Eli Lipskar, Yissachar Wilansky, Sholom Perman, Zalman Lehrer, Shimshon Silverstein, Mendel Sears, Avraham Karp, Yisroel Drizin, Mendel Batashvili, Avraham Lapidus, Meir Schmukler, Efraim Schmukler, Schneur Smith, and Yitzchak Lunger.

Mendel Drizin then presented a Dvar Torah on Parshas Shlach, comparing the challenge of leaving JETS with the challenge the Jews had in the desert: “In JETS we were surrounded by a constant environment of growth—davening, learning, farbrenging. But, as we step out of these four walls and proceed on with our lives there is room for concern that our environment won’t be as conducive for growth. However, just as Yehoshua and Calev reassured the Jews thousands of years ago, I stand before all of you with a word of reassurance. G-d’s intent is that we live in a world where we face daily struggles. And I promise you, G-d has not set us up for failure. We have the tools and we have strength.”

The audience was then treated to a performance by Rabbi Moshe Bitton, accompanied by JETS student Levi Lieberman.

Rabbi Mendel Zirkind, who teaches a unique Gemara class called Cognitive Development Through Learning Gemara, recognized his students. Mendel Batshivili joked, “Making Gemara enjoyable for teenagers is not an easy task, but you tackle this challenge with ease.”

HaShliach Eli Shemtov then gave awards to the Judaic staff in appreciation of their efforts, and HaShliach Avraham Lapidus presented a video with highlights from the past year at JETS.

High school equivalency diplomas were then awarded to students Chaim Friedman, Efraim Siklos, Shimon Lang, Sholom Helfen, Mendel Gottlieb, Eli Lipskar, Yisroel Drizin, Motti Lipszyc, Menachem Loloyan, Nochum Preger, Moishy Rav-Noy, Yoni Steinman, and Shluchim Eli Shemtov and Sholom Marrus. Additionally, certificates were given in Digital Marketing, WordPress, Culinary Arts, Real Estate Management, Accounting & Entrepreneurship, Computer Coding and Electrical Class.

HaShliach Shimshon Silverstein gave awards to the secular teachers in appreciation of their efforts, expressing the love and admiration the students have for the staff. 

Schneur Smith then gave a touching tribute to the shluchim: “The shluchim here at JETS have put hours and hours into the farbrengens, parties, and trips . . . I know that the amount of work the shluchim put in this past year will never be able to be appreciated enough. All of you are kind, dedicated people. You guys made this year happen. Thank you.”

In closing, Principal Rabbi Mendel Seewald summed up JETS: “Each student is valued for who they already are. We seek not to change the individual, but to celebrate their strengths and understand their challenges. One of the most beautiful things about JETS is the realness of the boys. We see every day boys working on themselves in a pnimius way. They strive to improve their spiritual life one step at a time. Whether it’s in the meditation class, DMC’s, late-night farbrengens, or in a spirited davening like we had this past Shabbos, the purity and sincerity of the boys at JETS is palpable.”

This past year has seen unprecedented growth at JETS, with the student body increasing by 300%. Their new division, JETS Business School, offers students a wide range of extensive courses in Coding & Software Development, Accounting, Real Estate & Mortgage Banking, Digital Marketing and more. In addition to advanced coursework, JETS Business School offers negotiation training, portfolio-building projects and personal branding advice from a dedicated outcomes team. Upon graduation, JETS offers access to its workplace opportunities network, connecting graduates with firms to jumpstart their careers.

JETS is proud of the graduates’ success and plans to continue expanding course offerings to meet the demands of today’s workplace.