Yeshiva Toras Chaim
Yeshiva Toras Chaim (YTC) is an all-male, Lithuanian (Litvish)-style Talmudic academy. It was founded in Denver, Colorado in 1967. It is headed by the Roshei Yeshiva, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan, and Rabbi Yitzchok Wasserman, both students of Rabbi Aharon Kotler, founder and rosh yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, New Jersey. YTC is located in the Denver West Side Jewish Community in the neighborhood of West Colfax, Denver.
In 1966, a group of community leaders headed by Mr. Sheldon K. Beren approached Beth Medrash Govoha's Dov Lesser to discuss potential leadership for the yeshiva. Lesser mentioned the prospect to Rabbi Yitzchok Wasserman, who was teaching in a bais medrash in Boston at the time. Though Rabbi Wasserman was initially hesitant to leave his Boston position, Mr. Beren convinced him, along with fellow Beth Medrash Govoha talmid Rabbi Chaim Kahn, to come to Denver. When Rabbis Wasserman and Kahn realized how much time and energy went into recruiting and fundraising, they felt that the importance of having a full-time presence in the bais medrash was crucial enough to warrant the inclusion of another yeshiva head. Rabbi Wasserman's childhood friend, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan, who was giving chaburas in BMG, was recruited for the job. The yeshiva opened its doors to students in the fall of 1967.
Due to the yeshiva's unique location (at the time of its founding, YTC was the first full-time yeshiva not located on the east coast), the students were initially mainly from Denver and other western cities. Seattle, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, St. Louis, Vancouver, British Columbia and several other cities were represented, along with bochurim from New York City, New Jersey, Baltimore and other east coast communities.
Currently, yeshiva enrollment is at its peak. Though many new yeshivas have been established in cities across America since the yeshiva's inception in 1967, YTC students still choose the Denver yeshiva for its long-standing reputation for strong rebbe-talmid relationships, along with its high-level Talmudic academic program.
The yeshiva provides a full high school program (grades 9-12), a bais-medrash program for post-high school bochurim, and a chabura for kollel yungeleit. Students lodge in the yeshiva's dormitory facilities, located near the main yeshiva building.
YTC is responsible for spearheading many of the successful Community Outreach (kiruv) programs in Denver. Yeshiva staff members were giving informal classes in homes on Denver's East Side before 1983, when YTC responded to the needs of the community by becoming the first yeshiva in the United States to employ a full-time kiruv professional. In 1986, Rabbi and Mrs. Wasserman traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they taught Torah and spent Shabbos in an effort to raise Jewish awareness in the Southwest.
Today, Rabbi Yaakov Meyer, the yeshiva's original outreach director, leads a flourishing Aish HaTorah community in Southeast Denver. Rabbi Aaron Y. Wasserman, son of Rabbi Yitzchok Wasserman, heads The Jewish Experience, a multifaceted outreach project in Denver which provides classes, a Sunday school, Shabbatonim in the Rocky Mountains, and many other programs that appeal to a wide variety of Jews.
Yeshivah Toras Chaim also has an active “inreach” program. Merkaz Torah V'Chesed, located in East Denver, serves as a nightly beis medrash open to the community. Merkaz provides a high-level shiur given by its rabbinical director, Rabbi Aver Jacobs, along with chavrusa learning, regular classes and other events organized by program director Rabbi Chaim Sher, an alumnus of Beth Medrash Govoha. Merkaz's regular programming includes women's classes, youth programming, Rabbi Yissocher Frand's weekly parsha shiur (via the Torah Conferencing Network) and annual teshuva drasha, Chol Hamoed sedarim, and an annual Chanukah chagiga.