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Schechter Alum Profile: Ben Rotstein, SSLI Class of 2005

February 28, 2014
By SSLI Communications

This month we profile Ben Rotstein, HS Class of 2005.  Ben graduated from Brandies University in 2009 with a BA in Economics and a minor in business.  Ben has worked in his family’s business, Gold Medal International since September 2010, and in his spare time he is an accomplished chef and avid rugby player who has travelled to Slovenia and Croatia to play rugby competitively.

Although Ben had plans to continue his love of cooking professionally and stay in Boston after graduation, he decided to move back to New York so that he could be closer to his family.  It was then that he realized that working at Gold Medal was an “opportunity to test my hand at something new – a new challenge, a new life change.”  Ben started in the sales department and is currently developing the company’s on-line internet presence to bring Gold Medal into the 21st century.

What was your favorite memory of Schechter?  

Ben: When I was in 5th grade, it was the inaugural year of Solomon Slammers.  I remember playing with the other kids and that we got a Solomon Slammers kippah.  Pretty sure my mother still has it somewhere.  I also remember 5th grade basketball championship.  I was involved in a lot of extracurricular activities – baseball, soccer, Schechter Storm hockey, student government and the school plays.  Basically I was busy with everything except homework.  A fun High School memory was on our senior trip to Israel.  I remember one night we were all up late hanging out at the Fuchsberg Center, and Ofra (Hiltzik) decided that she wanted burgers. It had to be around midnight and here I was ordering burgers with Mrs. Hiltzik and playing poker and blackjack with Rabbi Chesler and a bunch of friends.  Surprisingly it was a pretty fun night.

Who is your favorite teacher?

Ben: I still have some pretty vivid memories of Mrs. Storch from my days in kindergarten, so I think I need to give her the shout-out on this one since that was over 20 years ago at this point.  But I liked them all – Mr. Itzkowitz, Mrs. Stanton  and of course Rabbi Chesler.

What clubs/activities were you involved in in High School? 

Ben: I was involved in everything and anything I could get my hands on - sports, plays, Student government, occasionally class.  Most notably my friends started the 80’s preservation society (which was pretty much us playing NES in the locker room).  

Have you stayed in touch with any other alumni? If so, who?

Ben: The unique thing about my grade is that like 30 of us had been in school together for 10+ years by the time we graduated.   Because of that I now have best friends I’ve known for something like 15 years.  It didn’t hit me until I went to college what it means to call someone your “best friend”.  Sure I went off and met new friends, and even new best friends, but it’s really hard to compare that to someone you have been friends with for pretty much your entire life.  It’s really a special thing.  It also helps that a lot of my Schechter friends still live around the city, so we see each other all the time.

What was the one thing you learned at Schechter that has stuck with you?

Ben: I learned integrity and responsibility.  It had a lot to do with my grade.  My grade was very competitive academically.  Also Schechter in general teaches you how to really ask good questions.  You learned Bible during the day, but it wasn’t like a Yeshiva.  You were taught the laws, but then asked, “What do you think? Do you think you can see yourself living by that?”  I can step back and question if I want to take this as it is being given to me, or can I take what I need, like changing pieces.  That runs deeper into work, relationships, and all sides of life.  And after that sort of self-evaluation process, you really have ownership over it.

How did Schechter prepare you for your chosen profession or path?

Ben: Oddly enough, as much as I slacked off in High School, the dual curriculum is more challenging and has a longer school day with a lot more work.  Because of my school work and extra-curricular activities, I am used to running 12-14 hour days. You realize how much you can get done in a day – that I am capable of (a bigger) workload.

What would you like to say to our current students?  

Ben: Well I took it all way too seriously, and sort of wish someone had told me that it was just high school.  Keep up with your friends and RELAX. It’s just life.  And go to college somewhere warm.

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