New Talmud teacher hopes to connect and inspire


BP Photo by Jordana Glouberman

ENCOURAGE: Rabbi Tsaidi was inspired by his high school rabbi in Detroit to become a rabbi himself.

By Abby Blumofe and Hannah Jannol, Staff Writer and Community Editor

Rabbi Yagil Tsaidi’s path to becoming a rabbi was paved by a close rabbi of his growing up — Rabbi Tzali Freedman, who was more than just his class rabbi. He always looked out for him outside of the classroom.

“He came to all my sport games as a student, and after my last game as a senior he sat me down and told me that if I apply my drive for sports to Torah, I would be a great teacher. ” said Rabbi Tsaidi, who grew up in Southfield, Mich., near Detroit. “That line stuck with me since.”

Rabbi Tsaidi, Shalhevet’s new 11th and 12th grade Talmud teacher, and boys rakez – spiritual coordinator – focusing on grades nine and 10.

He said he already has seen how much he can learn from both his peers and students, and that his teaching style is more question-oriented and interactive.

“The class and concepts aren’t hard,” Rabbi Tsaidi said. “It really depends on the student and how much effort they put into it, but most of the time the students get the answer before I tell them.”

Drive and effort are something Rabbi Tsaidi developed with the help of Rabbi Freedman. In a phone interview, Rabbi Freedman told the Boiling Point that it was this drive and focus that interested him about Rabbi Tsaidi from the start.

“I happen to have liked him tremendously, and I liked him tremendously for all the wrong reasons,” Rabbi Freedman recalled. “He was a very challenging student — not everybody loved him as much as I did, but I loved him cause he had a healthy mischievous side.”

Rabbi Freedman said seeing him on the sports court made him confident in Rabbi Tsaidi’s ability to channel his athletic focus in to other areas of life.

“He is an ambitious person who’s very driven and has goals, but he didn’t have the motivation back then,” Rabbi Freedman said. “But he had the sweetness and the sensitivity, which he tried to hide, but it was there, and a spiritual side, that he didn’t necessarily show, but I detected it. And at a certain point he decided to channel that ability and that focus to achieve.”

Rabbi Tzali Freedman and Rabbi Tsaidi said they keep on-and-off contact, but whenever they do catch up — even if a large amount of time has lapsed — it feels as though no time has gone by.

Rabbi Tsaidi interviewed at Shalhevet two years a go, along with his wife, Ms. Carolyn Tsaidi, but they moved to Israel instead. After he and his wife married last year, they decided that they wanted to spend their first year together in Israel to have their foundation be in Israel. At Shalhevet they look forward to “partaking in something greater than [themselves],” he said.

The only thing he said he dislikes about Gemara is when he gives up on it.

“Learning Talmud intrigues me due to the constant question-and-answer scenario.” Rabbi Tsaidi said. “A problem seems like it’s been solved, but then another problem comes up.

Rabbi Tsaidi attended Yeshiva University, where he said Shabbat was special since everyone, shomer Shabbat or not, came together. Now he hopes to host Shabbat meals and plan activities for Shalhevet students outside of school.

He also met Mrs. Tsaidi — rakezet for the 9th- and 10th-grade girls – at YU.

Now he looks forward to creating connections with his students like Rabbi Freedman had with him.

“He’s always been very influential in my life,” Rabbi Tsaidi said. “He’s one of the reasons I became a Rabbi.”