HIGH SCHOOL: YULA Boys High School
GAP YEAR: Yeshivat Sha’alvim in Israel
GOING TO: Yeshiva University
One evening after services at Young Israel of Century City in 2014, a fresh-faced teenager noticed misplaced prayer books and chairs strewn about. A thought crossed his mind: Not on my watch.
From that point on, Noam Gershov assumed the inglorious position of shamash, responsible for opening the shul and cleaning up after services when the janitorial staff was off on Sundays.
“It needed to be done,” said Gershov, a YULA Boys High School senior who lives in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood near the school.
The anecdote perfectly encapsulates Gershov’s modest do-it-yourself spirit.
During his junior year, Gershov wanted a school newspaper. There was chatter about it among fellow students.
But when he wants something done, Gershov doesn’t just talk about it — he makes it happen. So, he and several classmates petitioned the administration. Gershov already was the senior editor of YULA’s widely read Likutel Ohr, its weekly student Torah publication, and an editor for the yearbook.
At the beginning of this school year, YULA brought in a professional faculty editor to help Gershov and his classmates run their own paper. Dubbed “The Panther Post,” it caters to both of YULA’s campuses, boasting a tagline: “Two Schools. One Paper.” The 10-person staff, comprising YULA boys and girls, recently published its third issue. Gershov, the executive editor, said the experience of developing the paper has been incredibly rewarding.
“I enjoy the leadership role I have with it,” he said. “I love making sure everything is done with maximum effort and that the final product is as close to perfect as possible. It’s very gratifying.”
When he’s not on campus, Gershov volunteers with Bnei Akiva, a Zionist youth movement organization, at its Olympic Boulevard building near his home. He has led Israel education programming there, Shabbat dinners and discussion groups. When his Torah education increased at YULA, he decided he wanted to incorporate text study into Israel education for Jewish youth and pitched his own learning program.
For the past year, he has spent Thursday nights with two dozen students, most of them from YULA, talking about the past week’s Torah portion, with links to principles of Zionism and love for Israel.
“I guess I wanted to show that kids could have as much fun if they were talking Torah and learning about Israel at the same time,” he said. “I felt it was important.”
Gershov also runs a weekly morning talmudic learning program at YULA, where a small group meets over breakfast before class. Both of his weekly learning programs incorporate one key ingredient to entice learners.
“If there’s food, people come,” he said. “So I always make sure we have plenty.”
As president of his school’s Future Business Leaders of America club, Gershov focuses on supplying speakers, rather than food. He, along with classmates who serve on the board of the club, bring in high-powered professionals representing a variety of fields, including real estate, law, business and the startup world.
“It shows us all aspects of business, which people want to see,” he said. “There’s no real subject in school that talks about business, so many people want to go to it. The club is very popular.”
Gershov is his graduating class’ salutatorian, a distinction he called “a great honor.”
“I’m very humbled,” he said. “Everybody in my class is very impressive. It’s a big honor for me.”
Gershov intends to spend next year in a yeshiva program in Israel before heading to Yeshiva University on a scholarship, where he hopes to study biology and, in some capacity, business.