David Porush is a two-time alumnus of HTC, graduating from FYHS in 1991 and from the Beis Midrash and College for Men in 1994. Between that time, he spent a year at Bais Yisroel in Israel before returning to earn his degree in Judaic Studies from HTC. From there, he attended Chicago Kent College of Law, where he graduated with a Juris Doctor degree and was later admitted to the bar. David specialized in tax law and spent several years working at the big accounting firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG. In late 2002, he started his own tax consulting firm, MTS Consulting LLC. He started a real estate company in 2008 called 3 Diamond Development LLC., which specializes in affordable housing for seniors and multifamily. He and his wife, Rochie, currently live in Chicago and have five children, two of whom are married. His oldest son Gavi is also an FYHS graduate.
Aside from his official career, David has spent much of his time serving the Chicago community through various non-profit board positions, especially in education. David serves on the board of Arie Crown, having served as the president for over ten years; served on the board of directors of HTC and later the board of governors; served on the youth commission of NCSY for many years; spent over eight years on the Community Building and Jewish Continuity Commission of the Jewish federation; and served a two-year term on the Board of Directors of JUF. David is currently on the executive board of HSBY and is also the vice chairman of the board of the Mechinas Ner Naftali. “I don’t spend nearly as much time working as I should,” he joked, “because I’m involved in so many organizations.”
David’s passion and involvement in community organizations reflects his larger goal of giving back wherever he can. David reported that giving back is one of the most enjoyable things about his work, especially in his real estate company. “In my profession,” he said, “one of the things I love is analyzing a project to find where the opportunity lies to develop affordable housing. There’s a great need in this country so it’s an important thing to be involved in. It’s challenging but rewarding.” This theme of identifying a need and filling it is one that permeates throughout David’s life. In fact, David recently opened an office for his tax consulting firm in Jerusalem, where he was able to employ Kollel wives to give them an opportunity to work and support their families while their husbands are learning. His daughter-in-law runs the office, where he currently employs ten women.
When considering where to seek his education, David had never thought of going anywhere but HTC. “My whole family had been there,” he said. “My father, my grandfather, and most of my uncles had gone to the Yeshiva; some had gotten semicha from there as well. My wife’s father and her brothers also all happened to have gone to the Yeshiva.” Even though attending FYHS was a given for David, he looks back on his time at the Yeshiva fondly. “I remember as a freshman thinking, ‘is this going to be what I think it is or is this going to be different.’ My freshman year experience was the exact Skokie Yeshiva experience I imagined. Growing up attending Hillel Torah and looking across the field at the Yeshiva guys, I felt like I was 100% one of them. I look very fondly on my four years of high school.”
Like many alumni, pinpointing just a few highlights of his time at FYHS and HTC was a challenge. “I have a thousand stories,” he said. “My family gets tired of it because I’m always telling a story of something that happened when I was in high school.” Even so, one memorable experience that David had in high school was the warmth and opportunity that came with having a small class. “At some point in my sophomore or junior year, the school probably had under 60 students which, from my perspective, was great. Everybody knew each other; everybody interacted. It was a close-knit group which was nice. I played on the basketball team for four years. It was definitely a highlight when in our senior year we swept the Academy in basketball. We beat them every time we played them, whereas for most of the years before us, the Yeshiva never beat the Academy. We beat them a few times in my sophomore year and every time we played them in my senior year. That was really special and having that feather in our cap generated a lot of excitement in the school.”
On the academic side, many of the rebbeim that David had in both the Yeshiva and the Beis Midrash played a large role in who he is today. One of the moments that has stuck with him through the years was of a rebbe he had in HTC. “In the Beis Midrash,” he said, “I had a tremendous opportunity to become close with Rabbi Zvi Teller a”h. I’ll never forget. He didn’t just teach a shiur; he viewed the job of a rebbe to shape the kind of person you’re supposed to be. He was a little bit Chassidish and he wore a bekeshe. I come from a very Litvish family. I remember he said to me, ‘This is very important. You either have to be a Litvishe Chassid or a Chassidishe Litvack. You want to have the full experience of what it means to be a frum Jew. You can’t limit yourself to just one way of looking at things if you want to be a true Ben Torah.’ And I’ve always quoted him and used that line throughout my life. I even found myself in a political situation at a conference and I was telling someone, ‘You should either be a conservative democrat or a liberal republican.’ I quoted my rabbi because it’s the same idea. To stick to one ideology within a framework limits you and restricts you from reaching your potential. That’s something that had an impact on me to this day.”
In reflecting on his time at HTC, David noted why HTC is so special. “What’s always made HTC unique,” said David, “is its reflection on the city of Chicago. Chicago is such a unique community and though it is changing a little over time, I always felt that HTC and everything about it has the purpose of being able to be flexible to anybody’s needs within the framework of Torah education. It attracts students from the entire spectrum of frum people and being in the Midwest, for the longest time, it was the place that was attractive to people from all around the country. That means that if you went there, you got exposed to people from slightly different backgrounds than you and you got to share experiences together. I think that’s special. We live in a very homogenous world where everyone only wants to be with people who are just like them, which for better or worse, we’re stuck with now. But what made Skokie Yeshiva so special for so long is that it is one of the only places that takes a broader approach and really tries to be the place for everybody, which often works. That’s what’s so special about The Yeshiva.”