Yoni Shtiebel’s experiences since before Yoni became Bar Mitzvah have culminated in the development of this venture. Years ago, before Mr. Shtiebel became Bar Mitzvah, Yoni’s father uncovered a dusty recording of my great-grandfather, a renowned Bar Mitzvah tutor, chanting the Torah trope. In the recording, my great-grandfather sang each trope, one after the other. I listened carefully to them, repeatedly. When it came time for me to prepare for my Bar Mitzvah, I struggled to apply the trope of my great-grandfather to my own Torah portion. Doing so was grueling. It took a great deal of effort to hear how the trope applied to my own portion. It was immensely difficult to generalize from a single example. I had been told to practice on my own. Although practice was important, self-study had rapidly diminishing returns. I did the best I could, but it was clear to me that I needed more instruction.
Yoni Shtiebel’s Story
As a young adult, I journeyed to Israel to study the Jewish Bible with learned Rabbis. Over the years, we studied the Jewish Bible together, understanding the meanings stored in the melodies and discovering subtle connections hidden across the expanse of the Jewish Bible. I learned with the best: my study partners included the head of a very famous yeshiva and professors from Brandeis and Tel Aviv University. I also helped others to learn: I lectured on the Jewish Bible in Hebrew to Israeli students who were studying to become Rabbis.
After a decade of intensive study with world-class rabbis, Yoni Shtiebel came to Boston. As Mr. Shtiebel became a part of the community here, I understood that my experiential knowledge of Torah set me apart. People urged Yoni to share his understanding of Torah with them and with others in our community. Their requests had special meaning for Yoni. As a young boy, Yoni Shtiebel had had my own struggles to learn trope. I had wished to learn Torah at my own pace. I thought of how to help others to do this.