AFYBA

Tikun Olam - UBA Orot Modiin student wins Volunteer of the Year Award

All 74 schools in the YBA Educational Network educate their students to put into practice the Jewish values of Tikun Olam and Gemilut Chasadim through weekly volunteer activities in the community, effectively improving the lives of thousands of needy Israelis of all ages.

UBA Orot Modiin senior, Carmel Amir
In Modiin, a growing young city in the heart of Israel, Mayor Haim Bibas has made a tradition of awarding certificates of appreciation to 15 twelfth graders each year recognizing them for their contributions to the community through their volunteer activities,with one of the 15 nominees being chosen for the Volunteer of the Year Award.

At the high-point of this years ceremony, attended by municipal officials, educators, family and friends of the nominees, Mayor Bibas announced that Carmel Amir (17), from Ulpanat Bnei Akiva Orot Modiin, was the 2015 winner of the coveted award. 

Carmel, who is also a leader in the local Israeli Scouts youth movement, was cited for her contribution to society for her leadership role for the past few years in the city's "Birthday Clowns" project. The project organizes and hosts birthday parties for children from needy families in cooperation with the municipality's welfare department.

Mayor Bibas praised Carmel as a worthy role model for her peers, who gives to others with all her heart. "I makes me feel proud to to be the mayor of a city that is blessed with so many youth who are imbued with the spirit of volunteerism. It begins in the home and extends to the values they learn in our schools. I want to thank our youth for all that they do for the benefit of the community."

Carmel Amir with her fellow "Birthday Clowns" volunteers
UBA Orot Modiin was established in 1998 as one of the first high schools in Modiin, and serves over 700 girls in grades 7 through 12 today. The school has won many awards, and is on the cutting edge of educational technology in Israel, with personal laptops for each student replacing traditional textbooks and paper-based homework assignments.

Learn more about the 74 schools in the YBA Educational Network by viewing the Interactive Map on our website. YBA - TRAINING ISRAEL'S FUTURE.

Photos of the 36th Annual AFYBA Gala are now online!

CLICK HERE to view a slide show of the event.

The 36th Annual AFYBA Gala was held on June 10th at Guastavino's, under the 59th Street Bridge in New York City. The 220 participants enjoyed a program presented by emcee Jessica Abo (pictured, left) featuring videos of the four Honorees, Harvey M. Krueger, Minister of Education Naftali BennettRabbi Shlomo Kimche and author Tuvia Tenenbom, a keynote address by former Head of Israel's National Security Council, Major General (Ret.) Yaakov Amidror, and musical accompaniment by the YBA Kinor David Jazz Ensemble and Violinist/Composer Ittai Shapira.





YBA Kinor David wins 1st Place in NY Jewish Music Festival

YBA Kinor David Jazz Ensemble
performing at the NY  Jewish Music Festival
The Kinor David Jazz Ensemble won First Place in NY Jewish Music Festival on June 7th, from among 32 performers at the Symphony Space Theatre. The packed audience enjoyed an electric performance of Rabbi Moti Hershkop's original composition, "Hashem, Ma Rabu Zaray."


Rabbi Hershkop heads the YBA Kinor David musical yeshiva high school in Israel, which trains young musicians for advance matriculation in musical studies, and a lifetime and careers that combine music and Jewish spirituality.

YBA KInor David Jazz Ensemble at OZ
The five boys in the ensemble spend the weekend as guests of Congregation Ohab Zedek on the upper West side, where Rabbi Hershkop acted as Hazzan and gave a guest sermon.

This is the first time that any of the Israeli boys has been in New York. They will provide the musical background ambiance at the AFYBA 36th Annual Gala at Guastavino's on Wednesday evening.

The ensemble will be performing tonight, June 8th, at Talia's Steakhouse on the Upper West Side from 7:30 till the lights go out....Come join the fun!

Harvey Krueger talks about why he supports YBA

Harvey Krueger will be receiving the Statesman Laureate Award at the 36th Annual AFYBA Scholarship and Tribute Gala on June 10th at Guastavino"s in NYC. Harvey is the Vice Chair of Barclays Capital, and a long-time supporter of YBA schools in Israel. Hear what he has to say about the YBA educational network in this one-minute video, and register for the Gala now!



2 YBA teachers cited among the top 50 teachers in Israel

AFYBA is proud to announce that two YBA educators, Leah Segal and Zvi Perla, have been cited by the Ministry of Education as being among the top 50 teachers in Israel. Congratulations Leah and Zvi! We salute you for the great job you are doing TRAINING ISRAEL'S FUTURE.

Leah Segal
Leah Segal is a math teacher at YBA Kiryat Herzog, Bnei Brak. The school was founded in 1971 as the YBA network's first non-residential yeshiva high school to serve boys in the greater Tel Aviv metropolis who wished to benefit from the quality Torah and general education of YBA schools without having to live in a residential dormitory setting. The school serves over 600 students in grades 7-12 today, and has won many citations for excellence.
Zvi Perla


Zvi Perla is the 7th grade homeroom teacher at YBA Mateh Binyamin, Beit El. The school was established in 2004 to serve boys in the settlements of the Binyamin Regional Council, north of Jerusalem. The school serves 370 students in grades 7-12, and offers a residential option to students starting in the 9th grade.


YBA Alumni Profiles: Lt. Shaked Ben-Shoshan, UBA Segula, Kiryat Motzkin

UBA Segula graduate,
Lt. Shaked Ben-Shoshan
Last week, on Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's President Reuven Rivlin awarded the President's Citation for Excellence to 120 IDF soldiers chosen from among thousands of soldiers nominated for the honor by their commanding officers.

One of the 120 this year was Lt. Shaked Ben-Shoshan (22), from Kiryat Bialik and a graduate of Ulpanat Bnei Akiva Segula in Kiryat Motzkin.

Shaked serves in the physically challenging IDF Field Intelligence Unit.
IDF Field Intelligence soldiers in full field camouflage
"Our job is to sit on the border with Egypt and Jordan and collect intelligence from the field. It involves laying in the open for many hours at a time under the highest level of field camouflage, in order to gather the most accurate information possible to protect our borders," Shaked explained.

The IDF Spokesman's Office related that Shaked was chosen for the honor due to the long record of citations of excellence she has earned from her commanding officers throughout her army career. "I was surprised to be chosen," she said, "because most of the soldiers chosen had fought in last summer's Operation Protective Edge or for an exceptional act of bravery. I didn't participate in the operation, so I didn't expect to be chosen."

Kiryat Bialik Mayor Eli Dokorski called Shaked to congratulate her on being chosen and thanked her for the honor she brought to the city of Kiryat Bialik, saying that she was "an exemplary and significant product of religious Zionism, imbued with a sense of purpose and determination."

Shaked is in line to be promoted to the Deputy Commander of her unit in August. YBA and AFYBA salute you, Shaked!



Yom Ha'atzmaut Dvar Torah by Rabbi Yehoshua Magnes, Yeshivat Merkaz Harav Kook

Rabbi Yehoshua Magnes teaches Talmud and Jewish Philosophy at Yeshivat Merkaz Harav Kook in Jerusalem. He and his wife founded the Ulpanit Bnei Aviva high school for girls in Tel Aviv in 1978 and headed the school until their retirement in 2014. To invite Rabbi Magnes to your congregation as a Scholar in Residence, contact Menachem Bar-Shalom or the AFYBA office.


Yom Hazikaron begins at sundown tonight

IDF Yom Hazikaron Opening Ceremony at the Kotel
On this day we honor the memory of 483 graduates of th Yeshivot Bnei Akiva educational network in Israel who gave their lives as Kiddush Hashem in the defence of Am Yisrael, Torat Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael.

In the past 67 years since the founding of the State of Israel, 407 YBA Torah Warriors fell in the line of duty in the IDF, and 76 more YBA students and graduates were murdered in terror actions against Israeli civilians.


Victims of Fallen IDF
YBA Institution Terror Soldiers Total
YBA Kfar Haroeh 6 82 88
YBA Yavneh, Haifa 1 43 44
YBA Or Etzion, Merkaz Shapira 8 35 43
YBA Netiv Meir, Jerusalem 2 39 41
YBA Nachal Yitzchak, Nechalim 8 26 34




YBA Givat Shmuel - 23 23
YBA Yad Avraham, Netanya 3 17 20
YBA Pirchei Aharon, Kiryat Shmuel 1 18 19
YBA Raanana 16 16
Yeshivat Hesder Hagolan, Hispin 7 9 16
YBA Beit Shmuel, Hadera 2 13 15
Yeshivat Hesder Or Etzion, Kiryat Shmuel 7 8 15
YBA Hadarom, Rehovot
YBA Neve Herzog, Nir Galim
-
1
13
11
13
12
YBA Hashomron, Karnei Shomron 8 4 12
YBA Ohel Shlomo, Beer Sheva 10 10
YBA Beit Yehuda, Kfar Maimon 2 7 9
Yeshivat Hesder Hakotel, Jerusalem 9 9
YBA Mateh Binyamin, Beit El 6 6
YBA Bar Yochai, Meron 2 3 5
UBA Tzfira, Tzafaria 5 5
Yeshivat Hesder Maale Yitzchak, Maalot 2 3 5
YBA TO"M, Herev Le'et 4 4
YBA Kiryat Herzog, Bnei Brak 1 3 4
Orot Israel College of Education 3 3
Yeshivat Hesder Neve Dekalim, Ashdod 2 1 3
UBA Neot Avraham, Arad 2 2
YBA Tikvat Yaakov, Sde Yaakov 1 1
YBA Aderet, Bat Yam 1 1
YBA Ner Tamid, Hashmonaim 1 1
YBA Beit Shean 1 1
YBA Sussya 1 1
UBA Amana, Kfar Saba 1 1
UBA Even Shmuel
Yeshivat Hesder Akko
-
1
1
1
1
Total 76 407 483

Yeshivat Hesder Hagolan launches Capital Campaign for campus expansion

Yeshivat Hagolan was founded in 1972 as the fourth Hesder yeshiva during the War of Attrition on the Golan Heights. The yeshiva was evacuated from its temporary quarters at Moshav Ramat Magshimim on the first day of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Today the yeshiva’s library houses a memorial to the yeshiva’s 13 students who have fallen in the line of duty, including three of the original students who were murdered in a terror attack on the yeshiva in 1975.


Yeshivat Hagolan has played a vital part in increasing the population of the Golan Heights. Over 300 graduates have made their homes in the region upon completion of their studies. 70% of the rabbis and educators in the Golan Heights are Yeshivat Hagolan graduates and many others have assumed leading roles in the region as businessmen, directors, and farmers.


Golan Schwartz, Yeshivat Hagolan's new Director of Development was recently in New York, Columbus and Chicago to meet with YBA supporters. He explained the school's need for a capital campaign: "The yeshiva has outgrown its original Beit Midrash and student residence buildings built over 30 years ago. We plan to construct a new modern Beit Midrash building at the entrance of the campus, and to reallocate the present structure as a multipurpose facility use for our community outreach projects." 

Over 1,200 graduates of Yeshivat Hagolan serve in positions of leadership in every field of endeavor throughout the country. The yeshiva has produced many Torah scholars who have gone on to serve as rabbis and educators in communities in Israel and the entire world.

Planned new Beit Midrash building at Yeshivat Hesder Hagolan

YBA Orot Yehuda Campus Construction Progressing



Sandy Herskowitz withYBA Orot Yehuda  Rosh Yeshiva,
Rabbi Shlomo Kimche, at construction site in Efrat
Sandy Herskowitz from New York visited Efrat last week to see the progress in construction of the YBA Orot Yehuda campus there. The school's Department of Judaic Studies was dedicated at last years' dinner by Sandy & Boondi Herskowitz and Shari & Maurice Gluckstadt, in memory of their parents, AFYBA Founder Marvin and Renee Herskowitz z"l.

YBA Orot Yehuda, which joined the YBA network in 2012, serves over 150 students in its overcrowded temporary quarters today. When the new school building opens next September, there will be ample room for over twice as many students. The school has earned a reputation for excellence over the years, and draws students not only from Efrat and the surrounding Gush Etzion settlements, but even from Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and Kiryat Arba.




Exterior view of the construction site, March 2015

Interior view of the classroom building central atrium stairway, March 2015

Nine YBA Alumni Elected to the 20th Knesset

YBA schools have been training leaders for Israeli society for the past 75 years, including a long list of former Members of Knesset, Israel's parliament.

AFYBA proudly congratulates the nine YBA graduates who were recently elected to serve as Members of the 20th Israeli Knesset. They are:

 MK Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), YBA Yavne, Haifa
Maj. (Res.) Naftali Bennett (42) was elected to the 19th Knesset as the head of the Habayit Hayehudi party. A former successful high tech entrepreneur, he served as the Chief of Staff in the Prime Minister's office, and as CEO of the Yesha Council, where he led the struggle against the constructions freeze in Yesha settlements. He served as the Economic Minister in he 19th Knesset.


MK Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Habayit Hayehudi), YBA Netiv Meir, Jerusalem
Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (60) is a captain in the IDF reserves and holds a Masters degree from the Hebrew University’s School of Public Policy Managers Program. In 1989, he was appointed as director of the Rabbinical Courts, where he led a revolution in the administration and organization of the entire Rabbinical Court system; he fought on behalf of women's rights and to make the divorce process more efficient and championed the introduction of female advocates (To’enet Rabanit) into the Rabbinical Court System. He served as Deputy Minister for Religious Services in the 19th Knesset.


MK Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi), YBA Nachlat Yitzchak, Nechalim
Nissan Slomiansky (68) previously served as an MK from the National Religious Party (NRP) from the 14th through the 17th Knesset, and in 2011 was appointed Vice President of the Lander Institute. He was the first secretary-general of the Gush Emunim settlement movement and founded the settlement Elkana, serving as its mayor for 21 years. He served as the Chairman of the Knesset Allocations Committee in the 19th Knesset.




MK Maj. Gen. (Res.) Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi), YBA Kfar Haroeh, Kfar Haroeh
Moti Yogev (59) served as the commander of the "Malgan" commando unit of the IDF Paratroopers Brigade and holds a Master's degree in political science from Haifa University. He formerly served as the Secretary General of the Bnei Akiva Youth Movement in Israel, CEO of the Old City Jewish Quarter Development Authority and most recently, Deputy Mayor of the Binyamin Regional Council.


MK Gilad Erdan (Likud), YBA Netiv Meir, Jerusalem
Gilad Erdan (45) attained the rank of Captain during his military service in the IDF and holds a degree in Law from Bar-Ilan University. Becoming involved in politics, Erdan worked as an advisor to Prime Ministers Binyamin Netanyahu, and Ariel Sharon. He was first elected to the Knesset in 2003 and served in the 19th Knesset  as Minister of Internal Affairs. He formerly held the posts of Minister of Environmental ProtectionMinister of Communications and Home Front Defense Minister.


MK Yisrael Katz, YBA Or Etzion, Merkaz Shapira
Yisrael Katz (59) earned a BA and MA at the Hebrew University. He first entered the Knesset in November 1998 as a replacement for Ehud Olmert. He was appointed Minister of Agriculture in 2003 and has served as Israel's Minister of Transportation since 2009, leading the vast infrastructure improvements in Israel's intercity highway and railroad systems.


MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), YBA Ulpanat Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv
Tzipi Hotovely (37) completed her Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Bar-Ilan University. In 2006, she joined the panel of the political discussion program Moetzet HaHahamim (Council of the Wise), where she represented the right-wing on the panel, and started writing opinion pieces for the Maariv newspaper. When first elected at the age of 30 in 2009, she was the Knesset's youngest member. She serves as the head of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and in the 19th Knesset served as Deputy MInister of Transportation.


MK Yaron Mazuz (Likud), YBA Pirchei Aharon, Kiryat Shmuel
Yaron Mazuz (53) has been active in the Likud party for 25 years and a social activist for underprivileged populations in the Haifa, Krayot, Acre and Nahariya area. Mazuz was elected to Kiryat Bialik City Council in 2008, and served as the city's Deputy Mayor.


MK Rabbi Shai Piron (Yesh Atid), YBA Aderet, Bat Yam
Raised in a non-observant family, Rabbi Shai Piron (56) chose to enroll in YBA Aderet for high school and has gone on to become a leading rabbi and educator. In 1995 he became the head of UBA Yeshurun in Petach Tikvah, and under his leadership the school won every educational award possible. He co-founded and serves as a Rosh Yeshiva at the Hesder yeshiva in Petach Tikvah, and helped to establish the "Tzohar" rabbinic society which runs numerous projects to foster harmony between the religious and secular. He served as the rabbi of Oranit and the CEO of "Hakol L'Chinuch," an organization that works to improve state education until entering the 19th Knesset, where he served as Minister of Education.


ZOA and AFYBA Present Gloria Greenfield’s ‘Body and Soul’

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and AFYBA presented the new documentary film “Body and Soul” on February 24 at the Cedar Theatre in Teaneck, NJ to a packed house of 150 people.

From left: AFYBA Associate Director Natalie Sopinsky, a fan,
and "Body and Soul" Director Gloria Greenfield
The screening was preceded by a sushi dinner reception sponsored by select donors, where the crowd mingled with director Gloria Greenfield, NJ ZOA Executive Director, Laura Fein, and AFYBA Associate Director, Natalie Sopinsky.

Before the film, Ms. Fein gave a talk about the mission and work of ZOA in America, explaining the struggles on today’s college campuses in defending Israel. Natalie was welcomed onto the stage where she explained her aliyah story and the importance of Yeshivot Bnei Akiva educational network and how it has transformed the landscape in Israel, and continues to train Israel’s future leaders. Ms. Greenfield’s then took the stage to present the film and the worldwide tour for it.

The film is a studious documentary of the Jewish history in Israel. It features well-known Jewish scholars and defenders of Israel such as Ruth Weiss, Alan Dershowitz, and Rabbi Jonathan Sachs. The various scholars in the film detail the continuous Jewish presence in Israel, and follows the Jews throughout the exile, explaining that all other people are defeated, but only the Jews never used this term….only the Jews were “exiled” and maintained their peoplehood.

The movie is making a purposeful international circuit and is being translated into 9 foreign languages. It is set to be shown at universities, churches, community centers and governments throughout the world.


After the hour and a half film, an intense Q&A session took place in which the main focus was “how do we strengthen America’s Jews?” Afterwards, the crowd gathered in the lobby for conversation with the hosts, where t-shirts and DVDs of the movie were available for purchase.

AFYBA Hosts Book Launch for Tuvia Tenenbom' "Catch the Jew!"

Tuvia Tenenbom
The Book Launch Party on Feb. 23rd hosted by American Friends of Yeshivot Bnei Akiva (AFYBA) for Best-selling Israeli author Tuvia Tenenbom’s “Catch the Jew” brought out 60 people on a bitter cold night in NYC. 
Among the guests were Congressional candidate from the 12th district Nick Di’Iorio, Media Consultant Shira Dicker, Wall Street Journal reporter Gregory Zuckerman and The Times of Israel’s Simone Dinah Hartmann.

Alan Wildes
Alan Wildes, past President of AFYBA and YBA Hakotel Alumnus, took the floor with an introduction of Yeshivot Bnei Akiva and the accomplishments of the network, dropping big names of outstanding alumni while highlighting the strong presence of the YBA network in Israel. Ken Abramowitz, Advisory Committee member for AFYBA and President of American Friends of Likud, spoke about the threats against Europe today in his pitch to “save the west” which he writes about on his SavetheWest blog.

Before Tuvia took the floor, Allan Leicht, a playwright and AFYBA Board Member, did a beautiful job reading a chapter from Catch the Jew that described Itamar, Jewish tour guide that Tuvia met at Yad Vashem, who compared the IDF to the Nazi regime. Everyone in the room was speechless.

Tuvia then took the room by storm as he recounted his experiences in Israel, describing the “old” Israel with two peoples, Arabs and Jews and his surprise at discovering the “new” Israel, with Arabs, Jews and Europeans. “Catch the Jew is EXACTLY what these Europeans are trying to do," he said. "and they are succeeding. They try to Catch the Jew in a bad act against the Arabs." Tuvia broke it down for us – it’s all a set-up. “You didn’t see any action today? Let me call you….maybe tomorrow? I’ll bet there will be something to photograph and write about tomorrow….come by at around 3.” 

There were many questions from the audience and lively discussion as Tuvia expertly fielded comments. Security Assessment Chief of One Israel Fund, Marc Provisor from Shilo jumped in as well to explain the facts on the ground. "There is a serious game being played in Israel and American Jewry needs to wake up." 

AFYBA will be taking “Catch the Jew” on the road. Future events will be announced shortly. For bookings, contact: Natalie.afyba@gmail.com

Financial/Estate Planning Expert offers free service to AFYBA supporters

Glenn and Barbara Gabin
at Ulpanat Bnei Akiva Neve Ruchama in Jerusalem
Glenn Gabin, and his wife Barbara Gabin, from Scarsdale, NY, visited two YBA schools this week  to learn first-hand how YBA schools help students with leaning disabilities achieve full high school Bagut (matriculation) Certificates - the key to higher education in Israel. The couple visited Ulpanat Bnei Akiva (UBA) Reut in Petach Tikvah and UBA Neve Ruchama in Jerusalem.

Glenn is a veteran Board Member of AFYBA, and for the past three years has served as the organization's treasurer. 

He is also the owner and principal of Wealth Preservation Associates, and an expert in all fields of financial and estate planning.  His clientele encompasses some 20% of the Fortune 100 companies as well as some of the world's wealthiest individuals.

As part of Glenn's commitment to supporting YBA in its mission to Training Israel's Future, he has generously offered to provide YBA supporters a customized, confidential financial and estate plan, free of charge and with no obligation, to maximize their current after-tax income and minimize future tax exposure. 

"Wealth Preservation Associates is able to recommend the use of specialized trusts, generation-skipping techniques, tax-deferred annuities, tax-free life insurance, and other cutting-edge investment options and tax strategies to meet specific needs, while at the same time providing a source of charitable income for AFYBA, at no net cost to the donor," Glenn explained.

Contact the AFYBA office to set up a personal appointment with Glenn if you wish to take advantage of this unique offer.

Meet CATCH THE JEW author, Tuvia Tenenbom

I'm reading this book now and it is really funny. Tenenbom skewers everyone in the MIddle East, but is especially critical of the PA officials he interviews (as pathological liars), and the extreme Left Israelis who support the PA (as naive hypocrites). I recommend the book; and if you are in NYC on February 23, you may want to meet the author himself at this AFYBA event.


'Body and Soul' screening in Teaneck and New Brunswick, NJ


You are invited to join AFYBA and ZOA 
for a special screening of 

Body and Soul; The State of the Jewish Nation 

a film by Gloria Z. Greenfield

Tuesday, Feb. 24, 7:45 PM 
at the Teaneck Cinemas
503 Cedar Lane, Teaneck, NJ 

and

Thursday, Feb. 26, 8:00 PM 
at Cong. B'nai Tikvah
New Brunswick, NJ 

Please join us for this important movie that traces the evolution of the relationship between the Jewish People and their homeland over 3,000 years.




AFYBA supporters experience “Soul Doctor” musical

"It was a fantastic show!" said Arthur Alexander, President of AFYBA. 

Company of "Soul Doctor"
That was also the consensus among the other three dozen AFYBA guests regarding “Soul Doctor,” the off-Broadway musical at the Actors Temple Theater, this week. The 100-minute show flew by all too quickly, as the life of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach unfolded in stages, with the inclusion of dozens of Reb Shlomo's original "nigunim." 

Following the show the AFYBA guests, including new board member Shari Gluckstadt, took part in a sumptuous cocktail reception catered by Sara Rabbani Events.

New AFYBA board member Jeff Goldstein visits YBA schools

Jeffrey M. Goldstein, Esq., a lawyer from Teaneck, NJ, visited the YBA Yeshiva High School for Environmental Studies – Sussya and YBA Orot Yehuda in Efrat this week, as part of his orientation as a new board member of AFYBA.

Rabbi Kimche (L) and Jeff Goldstein
in a classroom under construction
YBA Orot Yehuda Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shlomo Kimche, took Jeff to visit the construction site of the school’s new campus in Efrat, which is scheduled to open in September 2015. He also toured the campus and unique “green” dormitories at YBA Sussya in the southern Hebron Hills region, led by the school's director, Haim Bar-Hai.

Jeff and Natalie at the top
of the Rudjum Fortress
Following the tour of the campus AFYBA Associate Director, Natalie Sopinsky, who lives in Sussya, took Jeff to climb the Rudjum Fortress, a short walk to the north of the school. The fortress was built in Hasmonean times (circa 200 BCE) and served as a Jewish stronghold during the Bar Kochba revolt against Rome. The site was excavated in 1994, and the yeshiva students are voluntarily preparing the site as a tourist attraction, paving stone pathways, installing benches, lighting, etc.

"My visit showed me how vital it is to support the YBA educational network,” Jeff said. “YBA schools are literally grooming the next generation of Jewish leaders for the state of Israel. Catching a glimpse of the learning going on at YBA Sussya and Orot Yehuda strengthened my confidence that the students are receiving an education that is above average, compared to the rest of the yeshiva world."