What year did you graduate YHT?
I had an unusual path. My parents immigrated from Iran. I’m the only one of my siblings born in the U.S. and the only one to go to YHT. I attended YHT for first through third grade but then, for reasons that are still not completely clear to me – possibly because the school moved locations or possibly because of the cost of tuition – I switched to another school. It didn’t work out well. It was a rough place and I got myself in a lot of trouble. I was asked not to come back to that yeshiva after 6th grade.
I needed a new school for 7th grade. One school looked at my report cards and, understandably, said “this isn’t going to work.” I actually remember that experience, as the child of immigrants who were working hard to educate me, being really embarrassing. So, we went to visit Rabbi Menchel and he remembered me. He said that my report card didn’t look too promising, but he took a chance on me anyway. He really took care of me and I made tremendous progress in 7th and 8th grade, both in Jewish and General Studies. I remember high school seeming easy after YHT. My family remains appreciative for what Rabbi Menchel did for me.
What have you been up to since YHT?
I went to North Shore for High School. In 10th grade I got an internship at Quantum Networks
, which was just being formed. Another YHT graduate, Eytan Wiener, also worked with me. I continued working at Quantum throughout high school and have been here ever since. Today, I’m Co-Owner and President. We’re an online retailer with a special mastery of Amazon.com. We sell our own products along with other niche consumer electronics name brands.
Did you have any favorite YHT teachers?
My favorites were Rabbi Menchel, obviously, and Rabbi Fried. I’m sure everyone says those two. The student/rebbe relationship I had with Rabbi Fried was so important. It wasn’t the same after I left YHT.
You’ve expressed admiration for Rabbi Menchel. Did you pick up anything from him that helps you lead your own company?
That he led by example, was approachable, and humble. The thing that has stuck with me is that he davened with the kids. He sat in a regular chair with everyone else. It made an impression on me and informs the way I lead my own company. Rabbi Menchel was growing something impressive, yet he always had time to meet with a student.
It’s more than 10 years since I graduated and he’ll still recognize me and my parents. He will see us on the side of the Celebrate Israel Parade and yell out to us. It’s kind of amazing because, like I said, I was the only person in my family to attend YHT and I wasn’t even there for that many years.