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Yishai Kanter: Using Physics and Coding at Intel

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

Yishai Kanter is a Skokie, Illinois native and a 2006 graduate from Fasman Yeshiva High School. After his time in the Yeshiva, Yishai spent three years in Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh (KBY), followed by four years in Yeshiva University. Upon graduating undergrad, Yishai attended the CUNY Graduate Center for five years, where he obtained his PhD in Physics. After spending time in New York, Yishai attended a Postdoctoral Program at NYU. Yishai later moved to Arizona with his family where he temporarily worked in the lab at Grand Canyon University. Today, Yishai works as a Research Engineer at Intel in Arizona, where he lives with his wife Daphne and their two children, expecting one on the way.

“When I came back from Israel,” he said, “I approached my father and told him I was trying to decide on a career path. He had recommended that I go speak to Mr. Sheldon Schaffel, who was the Vice Principal at Skokie at the time and also served as the guidance counselor. I went to him for advice and he had asked me what kind of subjects I most enjoyed in high school. I had told him I was fond of psychology and physics the most. He gave me the textbooks for each of those and asked me to look them over and see which grabs my attention. So, I did that, and I could not put the physics one down. It’s cool that that is how I ultimately decided to go for physics.”

“Today,” said Yishai, “I work in packaging at Intel, putting together computer chips in a sense, soldering very small transistors onto the motherboard chip. There is a lot that goes on with that process and I’m one of the engineers who works on that. They hired me specifically because of my physics background and a little bit because of my coding ability. I offer physics insights and code when needed.”

Yishai, coming from a long line of Yeshiva students in his family, had no intentions of going anywhere but FYHS. “I went to TheYeshiva because that’s where everyone in my family went,” he said. “My Zaidy, Rabbi Dr. Albert Milton Kanter, PhD, was very involved in the school; he went there himself and he largely helped build it up. It was a big family tradition to be a part of the Yeshiva for us and I enjoyed it a lot. I liked the atmosphere and I had good friends. I was someone who lived in town, so I didn’t need a dorm room, but my parents thankfully got me one and I stayed there quite a bit. I had actually wanted to stay there more than my parents wanted me to since they understandably wanted me home to some degree. The deal I was able to work out was that freshman year I stayed there one night a week, sophomore year I stayed there two nights a week, and so on, until I was staying there four nights a week in senior year. I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed learning at night in the beis midrash or having mishmar.”

One of the highlights for Yishai, aside from the ample opportunities he noted that he had to assist in chesed weddings, was the learning at Skokie. “I really liked the Judaics and learning we did,” he said. “One of the things I was really happy with as I went through Skokie was that from year to year, there was a good progression of learning that resulted in me being able to read gemara pretty much independently by the end of high school, which I think was their goal. I’m really thankful for that because it put me in a good place for when I went to Israel. That was a pretty big deal.”

An aspect of the Yeshiva that Yishai appreciated was the close relationships he was able to forge with his Rebbeim. “I was always pretty close with really any of the Rebbeim who taught me because that’s just how they were. My Rebbeim were very warm and encouraging, specifically Rabbi Cardash, Rabbi Haskell, and Rabbi Segal.”

When thinking back to his education growing up, Yishai remembers his experience in Skokie fondly. “My time at FYHS definitely impacted me, partially in ways that I can’t know and in some ways more obvious. One of the things about Skokie Yeshiva is that there was more than one type of guy there. The school didn’t feel like it had one kind of hashkafa because it was open to so many different types of people. You’d find one thing to unify over, usually something like the learning, which was also definitely the case when I attended KBY. I think that mindset stuck with me. Being able to intellectually engage with people despite differences. That was something that really started at Skokie.”

“I have only positive feelings about FYHS,” said Yishai. “I really appreciate what Skokie Yeshiva did for me and I’ll always remember it fondly.”

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