“I think that hasidishe people should get more education and moreover, there are so many kids rejected from hasidishe schools for reasons that aren’t worth risking having them go off the derech. Parents and kids need to know that the world doesn’t end in Kiryas Joel or Borough Park and there are other options to explore. Hashem [God] knows what he is doing and the answer might be to find a different school,” Wagschal said.
"Kiryas Joel, NY - Take one look at Elimelech Wagschal and he looks nothing like the typical Yeshiva University graduate. With his black payos and bekeshe, the 22 year old Kiryas Joel man does not fit the classic Yeshiva University mold, yet he found his experience at the school to be nothing but a positive experience and he hopes that others who find themselves in a similar predicament will follow in his footsteps.
Despite being a straight A student from his earliest days in yeshiva, Wagschal found himself denied admission to Kiryas Joel’s yeshiva gedola.
“I could have gone to a different yeshiva, not in my hometown, but my family and I decided that the thing to do was to go to YU,” Wagschal told VIN News.
Given his minimal background in secular studies, Wagschal was hesitant to apply to Yeshiva University, and instead spent one year at Touro College where he earned straight A’s. Buoyed by his academic success, Wagschal transferred to Yeshiva University, where he completed a degree in business management with an above 3.5 grade point average.
Although he came from a different background than most of his classmates, Wagschal found that he was accepted with open arms and felt absolutely no pressure to change in order to better fit in with YU’s student body.
“I am a very strong chosid and that is something that you are at heart,” said Wagschal. “It isn’t superficial and a chosid can fit in anywhere. At no point in time did I ever have to compromise even a single drop on my values or beliefs.”
Wagschal, who got married last semester, made the hour commute daily from his home in Kiryas Joel to YU’s Washington Heights campus and he hopes that his experience will inspire others.
“I think that chasidishe people should get more education and moreover, there are so many kids rejected from chasidishe schools for reason that aren’t worth risking having them go off the derech,” explained Wagschal. “Parents and kids need to know that the world doesn’t end in Kiryas Joel or Borough Park and there are other options to explore. Hashem knows what he is doing and the answer might be to find a different school.”
Wagschal’s wife, parents and siblings were all in the audience at his graduation at the Izod Center on May 22nd. Wagschal, who earned a full scholarship to law school, plans to resume his studies in the fall.
In an interview with VIN News, Rabbi Kenneth Brander, Vice President for University and Community Life and the David Mitzner Dean at Yeshiva University, Said Wagschal’s experience at the college was not atypical.
“Mr. Wagschal represent an idea at Yeshiva University, as well as for young women at Stern College, that they can grow in their Torah learning, in a Torah atmosphere and to be educated on the highest level so that they can blaze their own pathways as Torah Jews in the world.”