Community Kollel, St. Louis
Rabbi Soroka started out as a Rosh Chaburah of the St. Louis Kollel in September of 2005. A year later, he began giving lectures for Jewish, but not-yet-frum doctors on the subjects of bio-ethics, medical dilemmas, Torah Hashkafa and Halacha. The program grew and now has dozens of top doctors and lay people attending Continuing Medical Ethics accredited monthly sessions at Missouri Baptist Hospital. This program is called, “Two Tablets”, and the “students” have progressed to the point that the selection of cases and of the medical experts who join Rabbi Soroka as lecturers, is done by the physicians.
Some doctors have become frum (one world-renown oncologist, now retired, has become an incredible force in the frum community.) Others are making progress. (Usually the only frum people at the sessions are doctors who have become frum.) Most, if not all, have become more aware and proud of their Judaism and it has made an impact on both their personal lives and on their professional lives. Rabbi Soroka has been invited to join the faculty of Wash-U school of medicine (one of the top medical schools in the country). While doctors are very busy, there are still between 40-60 participants and the numbers get bigger every year. Rabbi Soroka is under a lot of pressure to expand the program to other hospitals (Barnes-Jewish, St. Lukes, Memorial, etc.)
Nine years ago, Rabbi Soroka started a novel program. This is a football league for young professionals. It’s called “Torah & Turf”. Since becoming friends with Mr. Kevin Demoff (the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of the St. Louis Rams), the kollel has been able to host the most incredibly exciting events for league participants. They have a recruiting event where all new members get tickets to a game and Mr. Dernoff gives the new recruits the owner’s suite. They attend events at Rams Park, and visit the training facility. The championship in their league is played at the Rams stadium, the Edward Jones Dome. Every week they have an interactive class on topics that are relevant to the “players’” lives and one of the rabbis from the Kollel shares a Torah perspective. The league has grown to about 60 men (ages 19-40), and they have events throughout the year in order to get the families involved in Yiddishkeit, so it’s having an impact on hundreds of Yidden in St. Louis. The “Torah & Turf” rabbi meets with each of them on a one-on-one basis regularly. One fellow who joined in the first season just came back from Yeshiva Machon Shlomo, and is totally frum and a real Ben Torah. He rejoined his old team and is now working in kiruv from the other side of the line!