Curious Daniel

February 6, 2015

Daniel Fridman, class of ’02, attended Frisch back when the campus was located on Frisch Court. Growing up in Teaneck and graduating from Yavneh Academy, he was sure that he would follow his older brother to Frisch.  In many ways, Daniel’s Frisch story is largely similar to everyone else’s. His memories of high school are filled with warm feelings of nostalgia towards his friends, teachers, academics, athletics and extracurricular activities.

However, what make’s Daniel’s story unique — and one that he is truly grateful for  — is that he was privileged to Fridmanlearn with Rav Yitzchak Twersky, shlita, for four consecutive years prior to him making aliyah. Whether it was studying Chumash, Navi or Gemara, Rav Twersky’s incredible synthesis of profound erudition, inspired creativity and personal refinement left Daniel and his classmates completely mesmerized. To his students, Rav Twersky was, without a stitch of hyperbole, the embodiment of Chazal’s teaching, which says, “if he is like an angel of God, then seek Torah from his mouth.” The very fact that such a description would undoubtedly make Rav Twersky cringe with discomfort is the surest sign of its accuracy, for his greatness and modesty were inextricably linked then as they are today.

Exposure to Rav Twersky played a prominent role in Daniel’s personal and professional decisions. Daniel has served as the Resident Scholar at The Jewish Center on the Upper West Side since 2009, where he teaches Gemara, Tanach and Halacha, and the lessons he learned from Rav Twersky frequently come into play.

“In preparing a shiur, Torah article or a series of shiurim, there is a point in one’s preparation where one has amassed information, but doesn’t understand how it all comes together,” Daniel said. “It can be an overwhelming feeling. Sometimes, when I reach that point, I think back to Rav Twersky’s shiur, close my eyes and imagine him laying out the information, presenting the questions and methodically tying everything together.”

Now married to Dr. Chaya Fridman, an assistant professor in Weill Cornell Medical College’s psychiatry department and living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Daniel’s personal gratitude to Rav Twersky is very much synonymous with his institutional gratitude towards Frisch.  The school’s hashkafa, spiritual outlook, which celebrated intensive study of Torah and passionate commitment to mitzvah observance, with an authentic desire to identify Godliness in all walks of life, has been a source of  profound enrichment for Daniel, and has shaped his own worldview.