It’s early morning at the Denver Community Kollel on Xavier Street. Men place their black hats on top of the coat rack inside the closet. Large Hebrew books line the shelves in the partially closed study area.
An ambience of serene activity permeates the place, even at this hour. Computers hum. Smart phones ring. Still, one suspects that amid the frenzy, Torah is the centerpiece.
Rabbi Mordechai Fleisher, who joined the Kollel in 2007, enters the busy room vigorously. His desk is occupied, so he grabs an available work spot.
The word kollel, he explains, literally means inclusive or inclusivity. “We are a group of people working as one unit toward greater spiritual heights, Torah study and spiritual growth.
“And we include any Jewish member of the community who wants to learn as well.”
Fleisher, recently promoted from director of education to director of operations, retains the title of senior educator for good reason. The 33-year-old scholar has garnered a reputation as a superlative teacher and thinker.
While he politely discounts the compliment, Fleisher will address “the teacher part.
“I do teach around town; to Kollel members; afternoon study sessions; women and men on the South and East sides of Denver; the monthly Torah for Tycoons session with Rabbi Aron Y. Schwab, co-dean of the Kollel.
“Tonight I’m teaching a women’s class on the South side about Olam Haba, the World to Come,” Fleisher adds. Noticing a glimmer of interest, he extends an invitation. He’s not nudging — well, maybe a little.
Fleischer adjusts course content to match individual levels of learning. “It’s not a matter of style,” he qualifies. “It’s about understanding where a person is.”
For instance, when he’s teaching Talmud scholars, he utilizes an academic shorthand. “You can say a lot more with fewer words.”
He reconstructs lessons to reach Jews who are less familiar with Judaism. “You have to provide the necessary background information,” he says, “because you never want to confuse the person.
“If you are missing an idea from the ground up, you could build a wonderful edifice in the talk — but if there is no foundation, it’s not going to get anywhere. You really have to start from the beginning.”