Bnei Akiva

Sometimes Leadership is Thrust Upon Us

Racheli Frenkel is not your typical national leader. Usually, a leader develops gradually, gaining in stature and prominence with the passage of time. But occasionally, seemingly ordinary people are thrust by extraordinary circumstances onto the national stage, to be universally recognized for their leadership qualities, despite their previous anonymity. Racheli Frenkel is such a leader.

YBA students take to the streets to boost the nation's morale

Stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks by Palestinians against Jews  - as many as four times a day - have left ten Israelis dead and over a hundred injured in the first half of October. While the Israel Police and Border Police seem to be on patrol nearly everywhere, the first-responders in most attacks were regular citizens who carry licensed pistols; and in most cases, the perpetrators were neutralized within minutes.

YBA students handing out free Israeli flags in Jerusalem
With no let-up in sight, the national mood has become increasingly one of caution and fear - just the purpose of such random acts of terror. But at YBA our answer to terrorism is simple: "Am Yisrael Chai!"

This week, YBA high school students fanned out all across Israel to help bolster the resilience of Israel's citizens. They filled traffic intersections in all the major cities waving flags, dancing and singling while handing out 20,000 Israeli flags and bumper stickers saying, "Be strong and we will be strengthened" and "An eternal nation has no fear of the long road ahead."

Students volunteered their free time for these activities out of a sense of social responsibility. "Raising the flag of Israel in these times sends a message to our enemies that we are not bowing to terror," said one student, "we are never going to leave Eretz Yisrael, and we are not afraid."

"Lots of drivers sound their car horns in support; others roll down their windows and yell 'kol hakavod!' ('Good job!') and many thank us," said another participant. "That's the proof that 'Am Yisrael Chai'."

Profiles in Leadership: One Jew in search of the10 Lost Tribes of Israel


Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail, z"l 
Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail, was laid to rest on September 16, 2015. Since 1961, when he served as a rabbi/teacher at YBA Nechalim, he had dedicated his life to research and activity on behalf of the dispersed of Israel, in particular, research regarding the fate of the Ten Lost Tribes.

In 1975, at the urging of his mentor, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, of blessed memory, he founded the non-profit organization, Amishav – for the Dispersed of Israel.

Rabbi Avichail has lectured widely in Israel and abroad, published numerous articles and the Hebrew books HaOvdim B’Eretz Ashur and Shitei Yisrael, the latter of which has been translated into English and French.

In order to assist in aliya and conversion, he wrote and published the booklet Judaism (Hebrew) which has been translated into numerous languages.

Rabbi Avichail was a member of the Rabbinical Court which converted the Belmonte community in Portugal. He facilitated aliya of the BaDerej L’Yerushalayim group from Mexico and the Bnei Menashe group from Peru. He continues to assist the aliya of Bnei Menashe from northeast India (some 1,000 souls to date). Rabbi Avichail has travelled the world, from India, Burma, China, Thailand and Japan to Europe and South America, in order to research, encourage and guide the dispersed of Israel.

Rabbi Avichail was born in Jerusalem in 1932. His parents came from Lithuania and Ukraine. At 16 he was drafted by the Israel Defense Forces during the War of Independence; he completed his service with the rank of sergeant in the Nahal brigade at Kibbutz Yavne. Afterwards he joined Kibbutz Saad, where he lived and worked for five years, and then studied at Yeshivat Kerem BeYavneh and Merkaz HaRav Kook. He received his rabbinical ordination and completed a teaching certificate for Bible studies and Mishna. He has held the positions of community rabbi, students’ rabbi at the Hebrew University, and teacher of Bible and Judaism for all ages. He received the equivalent of a Doctorate in Jewish Professions for his rabbinical studies and publications.

Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail and his wife Rivka were jointly awarded the Yakir Yerushalayim prize [annual citizenship prize in Jerusalem] in 2012. They have six children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Their home was open at all times to the Bnei Menashe, new converts and all those who wish to study Judaism.

Thousands of citizens of Israel from the Bnei Menashe community will mourn  this  modest and saintly man, who paved the way for them to begin new lives as Jews in the state of Israel.

Training Israel's Future: Chief of Police nominee Ron Alsheich

Ron Alsheich

Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan announced last month his nomination of Ron Alsheich to be Israel's 18th Chief of Police . Born in 1963 in Jerusalem to parents of Yemenite Jewry, Alsheich graduated high school from YBA Netiv Meir, where Erdan also studied.

Ron was conscripted to the IDF in 1981 and joined the Paratroopers Brigade. He went on the serve as a commander of the brigade's Engineer Company and as deputy-commander of the 50th battalion of the Nahal Brigade.

Alsheich left the army in 1988 with the rank of Major, and joined the Shabak, Israel's equivalent to the FBI, where he rose through the ranks until being appointed deputy director in September 2014. He was expected to be tapped to be the next head of the Shabak before being picked by Erdan to lead the Israel Police.

Alsheich's nomination is expected to sail through the approval process, as praise for his talent and appropriateness for the position pours in from sources all across Israeli society. Israel's last Chief of Police, Yohanan Danino, a graduate of YBA Or Etzion, retired from the position three months ago.

The chairman of the Yeshivot Bnei Akiva educational network, Rabbi Haim Drukman, called Alsheich to congratulate him and wish him well. "It is a very important and demanding position," said Rabbi Drukman; "Your appointment is a source of pride for the entire religious Zionist sector in general, and for YBA in particular, because it demonstrates our commitment to educating toward the values of Torat Eretz Yisrael, which incorporates dedication to mitzvot between man and G-d, man and his fellow man, and man and his country."

Read more about Ron Alsheich and how his appointment reflects the growing trend of religious Zionist leadership in all sectors of Israeli society in the following links:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4705001,00.html

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/New-top-cop-reflects-rise-of-religious-Zionism-in-Israeli-society-419216

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Analysis-Dont-judge-the-new-police-commissioner-by-his-cover-419354

YBA dedicates 5 new school buildings in Yehuda and Shomron - Israel's Heartland

Elchanan Glatt addressing crowd at
YBA Ma'arav Shomron
The Yeshivot Bnei Akiva educational network is not willing to even think about a building freeze in Judea and Samaria. In fact, the YBA schools in Yehuda and Shomron are undergoing a construction boom like YBA hasn't known for many years.

Last week, over 3,000 people joined YBA in Elkana to dedicate a new campus for the YBA Ma'arav Shomron boy's yeshiva high school.  The event was attended by the mayor of Elkana, Asaf Mintzer, and featured a love performance by singer Avraham Fried.
This week, the opening week of the  5776 school year, featured many other dedication ceremonies:


The new campus of YBA Orot Yehuda in Efrat was dedicated on Sunday, with videotaped greetings from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and the Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky. On hand were the mayor of Efrat, Oded Ravivi, and the General Director of the YBA Educational Network, Elchanan Glatt, who couldn't contain his excitement as he spoke in front of the thousands of well wishers in attendance.
At the same time, in the presence of the Minister Uri Ariel and YBA officials, a new dormitory facility was being dedicated at the UBA Shirat Hayam Ulpana High School of the Arts for girls in Neve Tzuf.
Meanwhile, the YBA Sussya Yeshiva High School for Environmental Studies was not satisfied with dedicating a new dormitory last week, so it broke ground immediately afterward for the construction of an additional dormitory building there.
Finally, later in the week YBA Mateh Binyamin in Beit El also dedicated a new dormitory building for its many students in the residential track.
Elchanan Glatt: "Yeshivot Bnei Akiva has taken off on a period of unprecedented growth, expansion and excellence. We are proud of our educational path, and proud to be part of the continuing settlement movement throughout the entire Land of Israel."
Yossi Dagan, the mayor of the Shomron Regional Council welcomed the building boom and said: "Naturally, the communal and spiritual atmosphere in the Shomron is conducive for educating students toward Jewish values and connection to the Land of Israel. We congratulate YBA on this building boom, and wish all the schools much success in training our children toward excellence and Jewish values."

There are 74 educational institutions in the YBA network in Israel, including 15 in Yehuda and Shomron ensuring high quality education in Israel's heartland.

CLICK HERE to view an interactive map of YBA schools in Israel.

Yeshivot Bnei Akiva: Training Israel's Future.

YBA Givat Shmuel ranked among the top schools in Israel

YBA Givat Shmuel Beit Midrash
YBA Givat Shmuel was ranked among the top high schools in Israel, with a 97% matriculation rate and a 95% induction rate for IDF service.
Rabbi Shraga Fruchter

The Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shraga Fruchter, himself a graduate of YBA Pirchei Aharon near Haifa, attributes the success to love: “When a boy comes to our school and sees how important he is to his teachers, and how the entire staff does everything it can to help him achieve success, it gives him the drive to apply himself with all his abilities.”

When YBA Givat Shmuel was founded in 1972 as a middle school, it was intended to serve as a "feeder school" for boys in the central part of Israel to the 16 residential high schools in the YBA network at that time spread out in rural settlements throughout Israel.

However, in 1978, following requests from the parent association, it was decided to expand the school into - the network's first non-residential comprehensive yeshiva high school. Today, the school serves over 750 students, half of whom from Givat Shmuel and  the other half from other cities in the Dan (greater Tel Aviv) urban district. The school offers a residential option for students who live too far to travel by bus each day to the school.

UBA Kfar Pines students take third prize in national Ecological Studies competition

Two students from UBA Kfar Pines, Shira Algavish and Leah Ifargan, won third place in a national competition for Ecological Studies sponsored by the Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Their study focused on the application of biological pest control in agriculture as an alternative to the more commonly used chemical solutions.

“Our girls come to the ulpana with a lot of positive attributes,” said the project’s coordinator at the ulpana, Mrs. Michal Kinnerti, “I’m proud that our school succeeds in bringing out their inner potential for excellence.”

UBA Kfar Pines was established in 1960 as the first ulpana girl's high school in the YBA educational network. The school was unique at that time for its combination of high-level Torah and secular studies for girls in a residential framework, modeled after the YBA yeshiva high schools for boys. Today the school serves over 450 students from all parts of the state.


View Promo Video of 2014 'Rabbanit Week' at UBA Kfar Pines


2 UBA Segula seniors earn Advanced Placement B.A. degrees

Two twelfth-grade students from UBA Segula, Tzofia Ronen and Moriah Ben-Sassoon, earned B.A. degrees in Computer Sciences from the University of Haifa while still in the twelfth grade through the university’s Etgar Program, which offers highly motivated and achievement oriented high school students extracurricular advanced placement courses leading to college degrees.

Ruchama Hazut, the ulpana’s principal, said, “It inspires pride and admiration to see our students achieve so much academically, while maintaining their humility, good nature and religious beliefs.”

UBA Segula in Kiryat Motzkin was founded in 1965 as the YBA network's third ulpana high school for girls. Today the school serves over 525 students from the Haifa region and entire northern half of Israel.

View video of UBA Segula's 2014 'March of the Living' Tour of Poland

Rabbi Drukman wins award; comes out against alternative conversion courts

YBA Chairman, Rabbi Haim Drukman
Rabbi Haim Drukman, Rosh Yeshiva of YBA Yeshivat Hesder Or Etzion and Chairman of the YBA Educational Network in Israel, was awarded the coveted Prize for Torah Literature by the Torah and Wisdom College, citing the six books already published, as well as the many books presently being worked on for future publication. Last year’s prize was awarded to Rabbi Yehoshua Weizmann, the Rosh Yeshiva of YBA Yeshivat Hesder Maalot Yaakov.

Rabbi Drukman headed the Conversion Authority within the Prime Minister's office for many years, and is critical of the way conversion is being conducted today by the Haredi-dominated Chief Rabbinate. Neverthe less, Rabbi Drukman is opposed to the recent move by other religious Zionist rabbis to establish alternative conversion courts outside the Israel Chief Rabbinate.

Read  more about Rabbi Drukman's position on the current controversy shaking the religious Zionist community in Israel:

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/199289#.VdNEBpvotLM

http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/is-it-mutiny-independent-rabbinic-court-competing-with-chief-rabbinate-on-conversions/2015/08/11/




Rabbi Drukman speaks out against religious extremism and violence

YBA Educational Network Chairman, Rabbi Haim Drikman
Many uninformed or misinformed American Jews think that Bnei Akiva schools teach their students to be extremists. Nothing can be farther from the truth.

On Friday, in response to two terrible incidents that took place the day before, Rabbi Haim Drukman, the Chairman of the YBA Educational Network in Israel spoke out yet again against all forms of extremism and violence, whether against Arabs or Gay Jews.


YBA is all about teaching moderation, which is according to Rambam, 'the golden path.'
READ MORE

YBA Alumni Profiles: Eli Orgad, owner, 'Burger Ranch' fast food chain

Eli Orgad
Eli Orgad was born and raised in Netanya, the sixth son in a family of nine children. "I grew up smelling the feet of my brothers. We slept in the same bed with their legs tucked up by my nose. Eli studied at YBA Yad Avraham, a residential yeshiva high school in Netanya. “I was a rebellious kid,” he recalls, “I didn’t always get up in time for morning prayers. I remember once my father was called into the office after a long day at work, and he said to me, ‘Wait till you have kids and they do to you what you’re doing to me!’”

It was at the yeshiva where Eli got his first taste in business – selling wafer snacks to his fellow students every evening. “The sound of a wafer being crunched while studying at night is something that nobody can resist,” he laughs. "My father always said that I would become a businessman."

At the age of 21, when Eli finished his army service, he couldn’t afford to go straight to college, so he established his first company instead – a cleaning service. At first, the word "company" was a little big for the operation, which relied mainly on him cleaning stairwells himself. But he had a vision, and by the outbreak of the First Lebanon War in 1982, his company was already cleaning forty office buildings. “When you want to go to university and don’t have money, the only thing you can do is cleaning stairwells,” says Eli. He finally received a Law degree 25 years later, from the Ono Academic College.

When war broke out in Lebanon, Eli was called up for reserve duty and his younger brother, Yuval, tried to keep the company alive, but it didn’t really work out. When Eli returned from the battlefield, he discovered that most of his customers had left. But the branch manager of Bank Mizrahi had faith in him. “He extended my credit line because I was in the reserves,” says Eli, “and I have stayed with him in gratitude ever since.”

Eli’s company, Orgad Holdings, Ltd., acquired the Burger King chain of fast food restaurants in Israel in 2003, and later, the more veteran Israeli Burger Ranch chain as well. In 2008 the company merged the two chains and eliminated the Burger King label, making Burger Ranch, with over 100 branches, the sole competitor to MacDonald’s in Israel. “We did extensive market research and found that Israelis preferred the taste of the Burger Ranch products. We saw sales jump 35% in every branch we converted to the Burger Ranch label.”

Eli, a man of faith, is happy to share his worldview: “Israel is the land of endless possibilities. If a person wants to succeed here - he can do anything. That's how I opened business after business. What is stopping someone from opening tomorrow a clothes shop on Sheinkin Street, or any other business? Nothing. You can do whatever you want, start a business and think all day about how to bring in costumers. That's what I do now. Every day I think about how to bring customers to the branches, so they will be full all day long. That’s what I do.”

“But it’s important to always remember to be a good person. I study Gemara once a week, and try to be a good person. Employees remain with us for many years, because I believe we must treat everyone nicely and be a ‘mench’. If an employee is short of money, he knows he can come to me and I'll give him loan.”

What’s Eli’s advice to a 22 year-old, just getting out of the army today?  - “Do what you love to do, as long as you stick persistently to your goal. You cannot be successful without putting your soul into whatever you choose to do. If you can afford college, go study; then, go do whatever your heart desires.”
YBA Nachal Yitzchak, Nechalim

YBA Nachal Yitzchak, established in 1955, is one of the oldest schools in the YBA educational network. Today the school serves 485 students in both residential and non-residential tracks. 

BACK TO THE BEIT MIDRASH

YBA has found the secret to instilling a love of learning Torah in the hearts of their students: a return to the classical formula of Hevruta study in the Beit Midrash

By Moshe Glanz, ARUTZ SHEVA NEWS (translation)

YBA yeshiva high school students in the Beit Midrash
In the ongoing discussions over the past several years about how to make Gemara (Talmud) study more popular among yeshiva high school students, the YBA educational network began developing two years ago a new method of teaching Talmud, which has gained momentum in the past year. This year the method was applied in 16 different Bnei Akiva yeshiva high schools throughout the country, and the network plans on expanding the system to more schools next year. The goal is to double the number of participating students from 800 to 1,500, with the assistance of the Religious Education Department of the Ministry of Education.

Not like Math and English

On of the initiators of the change was Rabbi Meir Toiber, Rosh Yeshiva of YBA Netiv Meir in Jerusalem. In an interview with B’sheva, Rabbi Toiber explained that the decision for the change was made after a gradual decline in the total number of hours dedicated to Gemara study in yeshiva high schools over the past 15 years for various reasons. As a result, the Beit Midrash (study hall) was hardly being used for the purpose of independent learning. "We realized that in order to instill the love of Torah in our students we would need to turn the situation around 180 degrees."

What was the method of study before the change?

"The students perceived the Morning Seder (study session) in the Beit Midrash as preparation time for the class in Talmud that followed, in which the teacher would cover everything they needed to know anyway. This created a feeling that Talmud was just like any other subject. We finally came to the conclusion that the reason why our students were lacking motivation to study Talmud," he says. "was that they felt the same, whether studying for a Talmud lesson, a math lesson or an English lesson. But if we look deeply into the concept of Torah study, we understand that the Talmudic competence is acquired not only from hearing a lecture, but through struggling to understand a passage in the text through the give-and-take of independent study with a hevruta (study partner)."

The Talmud consists of the Mishna, Gemara and commentaries
Rabbi Yehuda Felix, who until six months ago, was the head of Education Department at Yeshivot Bnei Akiva educational network, properly understood the need to change the equation. , and together with Rabbi Toiber and the financial backing of YBA benefactor, Mr. Benjamin Landy, it was decided to change the Morning Seder both literally and figuratively. "This is a significant change;" Rabbi Toiber states. "it is not just about learning in an hour and a half. We moved the Talmud lesson to before the Morning Seder so that everything learned in the classroom becomes preparation for the Seder session itself, where students sit with their study partners and actively acquire the skills for learning Talmud." According to Rabbi Toiber, this self-instruction experience leads to a love of Torah because it provides the natural connection to the Torah that was so lacking before.

The results were not long in coming. A few months after some of the yeshiva high schools decided to adopt and began implementing the system, the initiators realized that they had caught a wave. "I had students tell me happily: ‘Before Talmud was just another subject for me; now I understand that what I am doing is learning to learn Torah.’” That proves to me that this is a big change," Rabbi Toiber says enthusiastically.  "Just recently, I went into the Beit Midrash of one of our yeshiva high schools to look for a certain teacher, and I saw dozens of boys sitting and learning with their hevruta partners. I looked to my right and to my left and couldn’t find their rabbi. When I approached the students and asked them where he was, they replied: ‘He is in reserve duty [in the IDF].’"

Rabbi Toiber could not resist and asked: “So why are you sitting and learning in the Beit Midrash instead of playing ball outside?” The students did not understand the question. "It's an amazing thing," he continues smiling. "This shows that the change worked. The students understood that they acquired Torah by sitting and learning with their hevruta. This should not to be taken as a given – these are fruits that we had not seen before. At the end of the year we visited all the Yeshivot and met with students, teachers and yeshiva heads. They filled out feedback sheets, and we discovered a huge surge in love of learning Torah. All the measures of attention, attachment and motivation were well above anything we had ever seen before."

Does not contradict matriculation

It is no secret that in Bnei Akiva yeshiva high schools there is tension between the desire to study Torah and the connection to the real world. But according to Rabbi Toiber, the struggle between different forces only proves that Torah study must receive greater expression. "Over the years the students have come to expect and demand high achievement levels in both general and Judaic studies matriculation scores. This “wanting it all” demands that we provide enrichment in both directions," he explains. "Ultimately, the ideal of the yeshiva is that Torah should influence every aspect of life - everything," he says. "Our concept is: be a military man, be a lawyer, be a farmer, merchant or be anything you want; but on one condition: that you stay connected to the Torah. The connection to Torah must not be just intellectual; it must be a spiritual link. It is clear to me that students should learn for matriculation tests, but all subjects must be wrapped up in the connection to Torah."

Following the success of the initiative, YBA wants to expand to an even higher level. "We want to eventually include another measure of success – we hope to have our students writing term papers on the Talmudic issues they dealt with during the year."

When learning Torah becomes achievement oriented, don’t you lose something of the value of learning Torah for its own sake?

"First of all, that’s a great question. And you’re right, that is a difficult challenge," says Rabbi Toiber. "But it is important to emphasize that we are not talking here about just a positive learning experience." According to him, the bottom line must be that the students master in depth the Talmud they were studying during the year. "When we ask the students what is the conclusion of a Talmudic passage they learned, they need to know the answer, and not just that they enjoyed studying it. That’s not how you raise Talmidei Chachamim. We need to work simultaneously on both aspects, so that on the one hand they will learn the proper tools of Torah study with their hevruta that will serve them later in life, and on the other hand to professionally measure their scholastic achievement."

How do you intend to move the process forward in the years ahead?


"We are moving forward in two ways: first by training our Talmud teachers to use this method effectively. We are already doing this and we will do even more next year. Secondly, this year we included 16 Bnei Akiva yeshiva high schools, and by expanding next year to 22 schools, the number of students participating in the initiative will double. Thus, gradually we believe, we will succeed in bringing back the sounds of Talmud study to all the yeshiva high schools in the Bnei Akiva network." Rabbi Toiber explains, "Our goal is to increase Torah and glorify it."

UBA Neve Ruchama founder, Cissie Chalkowsky, to receive "Yakir Jerusalem" Award

Ulpanat Neve Ruchama founder,
Cissie Chalkowsky
On Yom Yerushalayim next week, Mayor Nir Barkat will award the Jerusalem Municipality's annual Yakir Yerushalayim Prize to Mrs. Cecilia (Cissie) Chalkowsky (78). As a veteran educator in Jerusalem, Cissie has brought many educational innovations and initiatives to the city, most prominently, the girls' high school, Ulpanat Neve Ruhama, which introduced new teaching methods for learning disabilities into Israeli education world.

Cissie was born in Chicago, Illinois and from the age of 15 was active in the religious Zionist Bnei Akiva youth movement. She immigrated to Israel in 1958 and studied sociology and education at the Hebrew University, and worked as the original dorm counselor at the first Ulpanat Bnei Akiva in Kfar Pines.

After graduating she established the religious studies track at the Beer Sheva Comprehensive High School, and later became the first dormitory director at Ulpanat "Horev" in Jerusalem. In 1983 she founded Ulpanat Neve Ruhama in Jerusalem, which became the address for teen girls who suffered from severe learning disabilities. Cissie ran the school until her retirement in 2011, and over the years the school earned the nickname "Ulpanat Cissie."

In 2008, in preparation for her retirement, Cissie asked the YBA educational network to take over the educational and financial management of the school, to assure that her life's work would continue to thrive. Today, UBA Neve Ruchama serves 266 girls in grades 7-12 from Jerusalem and the surrounding area. Since retiring Cissie has engaged in voluntary educational activities in the various sectors.


YBA Alumni Profiles: Avraham Duvdevani - YBA Netiv Meir

WZO Chairman
Avraham Duvdevani
Avraham Duvdevani a graduate of YBA Netiv Meir in Jerusalem, has served as the Chairman of the World Zionist Organization since 2010. He is the first kipa sruga wearing religious Zionist leader to fill that position since the organization was founded by Theodor Herzl at the first Zionist Conference in Basil, Switzerland in 1897,

"Duvduv" was born and raised in Jerusalem and as a Paratrooper in the IDF, took part in the battles to reunify the divided city during the Six Day War. After receiving BA and MA degrees from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and serving as the Jewish Agency's emissary in France, Duvdevani was appointed the General Secretary of the World Bnei Akiva youth movement, a position he remained in for 15 years. He continued holding positions of leadership in the JNF, Jewish Agency and WZO throughout his career.

How do you define Zionism?

"Zionism is commitment - it is the feeling of responsibility that drives someone to forego his personal interests and contribute everything he can for the sake of the public interest."

What are the goals of the WZO today?

"Strengthening Jewish education in the Diaspora, particularly towards the Zionist values and teaching the Hebrew language. We also have to strengthen traditional Zionist values in Israel, such as tolerance, and social justice, so that Israel will become a light unto the nations. Finally, encouraging Aliyah. We have to convince Jews living a comfortable life in the Diaspora that Eretz Yisrael is their homeland and that living in Israel is a real possibility for them."

Are you optimistic about achieving those goals?

"As a religious Zionist, I see the founding of State of Israel as the first sign of our national redemption. But the full redemption won't come all by itself. We must help it along. If the nation of Israel remains steadfast in its quest to fulfill the Zionist mission and vision, I have no doubt that the full redemption will surely come."

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!



Why You Should Vote Torah

The Vote Torah slate represents many of the most important organizations and institutions in the Modern Orthodox world today, including Yeshiva University, the Orthodox Union, the Rabbinical Council of America, Bnei Akiva, Amit, the Religious Zionists of America, Torah Mitzion and the National Council of Young Israel. These organizations partnered up to run under the a banner championing Zionist and Torah education worldwide, promoting aliyah to Israel, developing religious Zionist outreach and ensuring Jerusalem remains unified.

Read the entire article by Avi Strauss, The Commentator, April 29, 2015

Soldier with cerebral palsy to be honored for excellence


"This honor belongs above all to my friends in the army and to my commanders, who accept me as an equal. They don't make any assumptions, they simply listen and help me," says Cpl. Ori Cohen, 20, who had always dreamed of serving in the IDF.

By Shlomi Diaz and Yori Yalon, Israel Hayom, April 20, 2015

Cpl. Ori Cohen with his parents
Cpl. Ori Cohen, 20, from Rehovot, will be among the 120 Israeli soldiers to be honored for excellence at the annual Independence Day ceremony at the President's Residence on Thursday. Cohen was born with cerebral palsy and fought hard to be accepted as a volunteer in the Israel Defense Forces.

For Cohen, the youngest son of Sigal and Yitzhak Cohen and brother to Mor, 27, and Shir, 24, reaching this moment was a struggle.

"This honor belongs above all to my friends in the army and to my commanders, who accept me as an equal," he said, "They don't make any assumptions, they simply listen and help me. I am very excited, of course. I was surprised to be receiving this honor, but it seems that my work was recognized by my superiors and they appreciate me, so I am happy."

Cohen serves as a network administrator at the computer support center in the GOC's C41 Corps. His job is to solve network problems. "I did not have prior knowledge, but I learned on the job," he said.

His parents take him to and from his base, where he gets around using a walker or a wheelchair.
"My parents' and my family's devotion pushed me forward, and this is the right opportunity to thank them," Cohen said.

"Another thing that helped me make the decision to serve and to contribute were my studies at the yeshiva of Rabbi Haim Drukman [the head of the YBA educational network and Bnei Akiva youth movement]. I am proud to be fulfilling not only my civic duty, but also my religious and national duties, as that is an important value in the Torah."

According to Cohen, his "minor disability" does not stop him from excelling at his work in the army. "I am not different, despite the wheelchair," he said. "I am a regular person in every way, and even in the moments when I am alone and I think about it, I do not feel different. I don't think about the difficulties for a even a minute.

"I came to the base every day, even during Operation Protective Edge, when there were sirens and rockets. I am very happy with my job, and lately, I have been thinking quite a bit about continuing to serve in the army [in the long term]. "It was important to me to join the army, since that is a value I was raised with. Everyone in my family served, and I knew that I too would be drafted, despite the situation."

"At both my high school yeshiva [YBA Hadarom, Rechovot] and army preparatory yeshiva [YBA Mechinat Kiryat Malachi], I was taught to love our country, and part of that means contributing and serving in the IDF. I taught the same thing to my groups during the two years that I was a Bnei Akiva youth leader. It wasn't easy, but I made my dream come true. I never had any doubt that I would be in the army."

Rabbi Drukman's Message to YBA Students on Yom Hazikaron 5775 (Hebrew)

"Where else does an entire nation stand at attention for two minutes to remember its fallen soldiers?" Rabbi Haim Drukman, Chairman of the YBA Educational Network in Israel, teaches us to appreciate the holiness of Yom Hazikaron.

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

In Israel’s army, more officers now religious. What that means.


The percentage of officer cadets who are religious has grown 10-fold since the early 1990s. Among secular Israelis, that’s being met with a mix of respect, and concern.

By Christa Case Bryant, The Christian Science Monitor, April 17, 2015


In the early 1990s, ... Orthodox men accounted for 2.5 percent of graduates of infantry officer training courses; since then, it’s grown to more than 25 percent... In some combat units, they make up as much as 50 percent of new officers – roughly quadruple their share of Israel’s population. The upward trend, coupled with a parallel decline in the number of combat soldiers and officers coming from secular families, is dramatically changing the face of the IDF. Read entire article