Haim Drukman

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.'
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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."

Passover Interview with Rabbi Drukman - Part 3 of 3: Influencing Public Values

"Do everything you can to ensure the future of the people and the country."

Rabbi Haim Drukman established a generation and paved the way for the religious Zionist movement in many areas. Apart from the love of Torah and love of Israel, he has a great message here for today's youth

By Ariel Horowitz – Arutz Sheva, Small World Magazine, 12 Nissan 5775, 01/04/15 (Translation)


Influencing the values the public

YBA Chairman, Rabbi Haim Drukman
 In the rabbi’s study in Merkaz Shapira, tables and benches are arranged in orderly rows. It is a small sanctuary in the eyes of the few students who have been coming to study with Rabbi Drukman for many years at the house; to be taught Torat Eretz Yisrael by their teacher, the positive attitude to the State and the words of Rabbi Kook. 

It seems that in recent years the religious Zionist youth have strayed a little away from these things. The emphasis has shifted to the individual, the personal. Hasidism is gaining wide acceptance, and the path of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook is less dominant. "I agree that there is more of a trend toward the individual today, the personal, and therefore youth are searching for these aspects," says Rabbi Drukman, adjusting his glasses on his face, "[But] one should see himself as part of society – this is the truth, and the need to educate to what is true. We shouldn’t under-estimate the value of the individual, but we have to see the individual as part of the whole. The correct way is for each individual to figure out how he can best help to benefit the whole of society and build on that. It is like the relationship between the hand and the body: Isn’t it unthinkable that the hand should speak for itself, as separate from the body? A body without a hand is crippled, but the hand without the body is worthless. When a person considers only himself, it may easier, more pleasant, but the truth is that he is part of the society. The individual does not become lost as part of the society: the individual takes on its real value as part of the society."

Is it still possible to educate towards these values?

"I think so. I try to learn from my mentor, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, who reiterated dozens of times the main principles that were important to him, and little by little they sunk in. He did it on purpose. He understood that values have to sink in, to penetrate all the armor that person has. The values have remained the same values, and we still need to educate toward them, but we need to change the means of doing so because we cannot ignore the place that Individualism is gaining. An educator needs to talk to the place where his students are at. If he ignores this rule, his words will not be heard. It can be compared to an adult and a baby who both want to drink. You give a glass or an open bottle to the adult, but for a baby you make a small hole in the bottle for him to suck on, otherwise he might choke. The same holds true with students. We cannot speak in a language that would not be listened to; you have to figure out a way to present these values to the audience in front of you."

Once a week, Rabbi Drukman devotes an entire evening to the questions of first year students at his yeshiva, Yeshivat Hesder Or Etzion. For years he was the senior rabbi at the Association of Hesder Yeshivot. But despite the fact that new Hesder Yeshivot have opened everywhere, many teens today are preferring to enroll in pre-IDF Mechina (preparatory) programs. "The Hesder Yeshiva [track] is by far the best path," said Rabbi Drukman, "but I supported the establishment of the pre-IDF Mechina academies because not every youth is inclined to attend a Hesder Yeshiva, and a year of Mechina before being drafted will strengthen him very much. There were those who thought that the Mechina programs would hurt the Hesder Yeshivot, because they might attract some boys who are on the border and could also be appropriate for yeshiva. But I do not think this is the right attitude. We have to worry about all of them."

But a high school senior can say to himself: I will go to a Mechina, learn for a year, or a year and a half, get stronger and then serve for a full three-years in the army, like everyone else. What need is there for Hesder Yeshivot?

"The purpose of Hesder Yeshivot is not to strengthen the guys so that they can succeed in keeping their religious identity in the army. This is a very important goal, but it is the goal of the Mechina programs. The Mechina programs do not pretend to give rise to scholars. The role of the yeshiva is to train scholars. Those who go to the Hesder Yeshivot contribute to the security of the whole of Israel, its physical security and its spiritual security. Our mission is to grow scholars who also serve in the army. Can we accept a situation in which Torah sages will grow only from those who do not go to the army?"

But most Hesder Yeshiva graduates do not continue into the rabbinate.

"Our sages long ago taught us ‘A thousand students make one teacher.' In order to produce one exceptional scholar, we need to have a thousand students studying the Torah. Moreover, even those not involved in the rabbinate, but instead chose to go into other areas, still should be Torah scholars. Is there not a qualitative difference between those who learn Torah for one year and those who study diligently for a few years? I very much appreciate the Mechina academies and think they are doing a great thing, but you can’t come out a scholar after just one year in a preparatory program. There is a great need for Mechina programs, but there is an even greater need for more Torah scholars, and its the yeshiva's role to cultivate them. "

Turn away from evil, do good

It is doubtful that Rabbi Drukman imagined that his nomination as Israel Prize laureate would bring back an old and painful affair: the sexual harassment charges against the YBA Netiv Meir Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Zev Kopolovitz. A few days after his nomination, there were calls for the Minister of Education to revoke the award decision. A group of YBA Netiv Meir graduates sent a letter to the Minister of Education, which claimed that Rabbi Drukman knew of the criminal deeds of Kopolovitz - for which was sent to prison - but did not contact the police, allowed him to continue teaching in the institution and tried to cover up the story. "That's a false and fabricated story," thunders Rabbi Drukman, while sailing in his memory back to those days. "At the beginning of the affair I was told that he was retiring as head of the yeshiva because of health problems, and I regretted it. After a while he returned to his post, and I understood that his health condition had improved. Four years later, after I had become Chairman of Yeshivot Bnei Akiva, I heard rumors about what he had done, and on the same day I suspended him from his position. Truthfully, I did not know that I had to report it to the police. In those days, 12 years ago, these things were not as salient as they are today. It's not true that I knew and covered it up; that's a complete lie. I knew nothing. And when I learned of the rumors, I suspended him from his position immediately. Indeed, it was wrong that I didn’t report it to the police, and I regret that. "

How do you think the religious community should treat sexual harassment in the community? What about solutions such as the Takana Forum?

"Our public should treat sexual harassment like any other public: through the police. We must not, God forbid, ignore any such phenomenon or the need to deal with. I do not think that the religious community is any different from the general public in any way." 

Rabbi Drukman in his study
The conversation with Rabbi Drukman goes on and on. It is interrupted by phone calls from people wanting to wish the rabbi well for the holiday;  his loyal assistant brings the rabbi documents to sign, including updates on what's happening in the rabbi’s many areas of responsibility. Rabbi Drukman expertly juggles all these tasks; recalling a quote from an old book, and knows exactly where to quickly find the quote among the thousands of books that line the walls of the room.

You cannot ignore one of the largest endeavors of Rabbi Drukman, one in which he has been involved since ancient times: the Bnei Akiva youth movement. He was a member, and a leader in his youth. The movement has undergone major changes over the years - some would call them "extreme." Drukman has called them "positive strengthening". The rabbi is happy to address the subject and sets his eyes on the changes brought about by the Bnei Akiva movement in Israel: "Of course there is tremendous progress in Bnei Akiva compared to what it used to be. Naturally, since the Yeshivot Bnei Akiva educational network was founded, which built high schools and encouraged youth to study Torah, religious practice has been strengthening.

We always knew in the Bnei Akiva youth movement that we are part of the people of Israel. We understood that one cannot say 'I saved my soul,' but rather we should take care of all the people. We understood that our job is to educate, and the matter is progressing on an upward spiral. We understand the need for patience and forbearance, even today. You can’t be anxious. We have to understand that if you want to educate the people of Israel, it is necessary to be patient, and we must not think that everything happens quickly. So it is with education. Do not give up; believe in the big ideal and say, God willing, we come to it."


Towards the end, as if not enough words had already been spoken, I ask him what message he would like to deliver to today’s religious Zionist youth. Rabbi Drukman pauses a moment, thinking. "You must know that you are the future of Israel and the State of Israel," he says, "It is very important that you do everything you can to ensure the future of the people and the country. You should be filled with values and identify more and more with who you are, be role models in every way and try to ‘Love for the Sake of Heaven.' God asks us to love simple things: learning Torah, good behavior and speaking graciously to others. These constitute Love for the Sake of Heaven. You must always think about how you can bring heavenly love to people. Just as we see great progress in our people, we see also a thirst for True Judaism. You can help promote this process: the process of returning the nation to its natural roots. This our mission today.”

Go to AFYBA Website

Passover Interview with Rabbi Drukman - Part 2 of 3: Rabbis and Politics

"Do everything you can to ensure the future of the people and the country."

Rabbi Haim Drukman established a generation and paved the way for the religious Zionist movement in many areas. Apart from the love of Torah and love of Israel, he has a great message here for today's youth

By Ariel Horowitz – Arutz Sheva, Small World Magazine, 12 Nissan 5775, 01/04/15 (Translation)


When Rabbi Drukman cried

YBA Chairman, Rabbi Haim Druckman
Rabbi Drukman sees his main occupation as an educator and teacher of Torah. His natural environment is the house of study, lecturing his students. Nevertheless, much of his public activity was in the Knesset. Rabbi Drukman was a member of Knesset for the National Religious Party, and for a certain period he resigned and founded the ‘Moreshet’ faction. "Serving in the Knesset was for me like doing reserve duty [in the army]," he says, "Every Jew is expected to do reserve duty. I didn’t want to be in the Knesset; I wasn’t looking for a public position, but I was called, so I went."

This public service was indeed forced upon Rabbi Drukman. One day, near Passover, Rabbi Drukman traveled to Jerusalem to bake matzot. He was already aware that some activists wanted him to run for the Knesset, and the natural address to make that happen was Rabbi Kook. He rushed to the home of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda to tell him that his mission is to educate, and that he has no desire to go to the Knesset. Rabbi Zvi Yehuda listen to his words, but a few hours later he was called again to the rabbi’s home in the Geula neighborhood. "I went in and found those who wanted me to run for the Knesset were there. Rabbi Zvi Yehuda had listened to them, and told me I should go for it. When he said that, I burst into tears, but I accepted his ruling." The Rosh Yeshiva traded the Beit Midrash for the Knesset, but managed to continue at the same time to teach Torah.

Do you think that rabbis should intervene in politics? Is the role of the rabbis limited to the Beit Midrash, or in all walks of life?

"The bottom line is that it depends on who it is," says Rabbi Drukman. "Ideally, Torah personalities should be found everywhere, but it’s not always appropriate. I don’t think that just because someone has been ordained as a rabbi it makes him qualified to deal with every subject. But if there are Torah personalities who could lead the public not only in the synagogue but also in the Knesset, the fact that he is also a rabbi is not a detriment. In fact, it is even a bonus."

Rabbi Drukman doesn’t only expect Torah personalities to serve in the Knesset, he also also expects a political united front for religious Zionism. The current split, he says, does not add much respect for the Torah of Israel. "Religious Zionism should be cohesive, and [if so,] its political representation will be in proportion with its real power," he says. "There are religious people integrated into the larger parties, and one reason for this is our success in education. Some people who grew up in the religious Zionist camp think there is no longer any need for a sectorial political party; that it is possible to exert influence in every party. I think they are wrong. Experience shows that a religious person in another party can influence society only an individual, but not collectively. The State of Israel needs a large religious Zionist party, where everything is rooted in the value of a Torah that is connected to the People, the Land and the State of Israel. This is the image of a true Torat Eretz Yisrael. This [unified political camp] will bring great blessings for the Torah and for the country as a whole. The present situation, where there is no unified religious Zionist party, is felt in many ways."

You can’t be counted a minyan (quorum)

One area where Rabbi Drukman has a lot to say is conversion. In 2003, with his leaving the Knesset, Rabbi Drukman began a new role as head of the state’s conversion authority in the Prime Minister’s Office. His [relatively liberal] attitude toward conversion upset the Haredi public officials, which came to a head when Rabbi Avraham Sherman, a judge on the Rabbinical Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the conversions of Rabbi Drukman should be revoked immediately. He soon became a persona non-grata among the ultra-Orthodox community, which was clearly demonstrated when he visited one day the well-known Itzkowitz Shteibel (synagogue) in the heart of Bnei Brak. "I entered one of the rooms of the shteibel and besides me there were eight Jews. When the tenth man showed up, I said, 'We have a minyan (quorum), you can start [the prayer service].' But then someone said, 'You cannot be counted in a minyan; we have to wait for one more.' I remember I was so shocked, that I couldn’t manage to pull myself together until another Jew came in and we began to pray. If it wasn’t so painful and distressing, it would have been funny. I can’t be counted in a minyan?!"

But the ultra-Orthodox community, in their eyes at least, is motivated by fear of Heaven. They object to your method of conversion.

"Even if someone thinks otherwise, those who practice a second method have a basis in Halacha (religious law). How can you cancel out-of-hand all these conversions if they were made in accordance legitimate halachic opinion you can trust? Moreover, the judge who rejected my conversions announced his decision in public, at a convention of rabbinical judges, clearly mentioning my name, without having talked to me even one word beforehand. How can a judge rule without hearing all sides? How can he offhandedly mention my name, in a forum of hundreds of rabbinical judges, without first having consulted with me? How is it possible to speak about me in such harsh and sharp language? Is this proper? Is this the way of the Torah?! "

What does this story show us regarding our relations with the Haredim?

"Our relationship should be like a family. We are all one big family, which has a difference of opinion, but with love. What unites the people of Israel is far greater than what separates us. We say in the Passover Haggadah, “In every generation they try to destroy us." For those who are trying to destroy us, there is no difference between religious and secular, between leftists and rightists. We need to learn from our enemies that we need to be united. Certainly we have a [religious] lifestyle in common with the ultra-Orthodox, although I am sorry to say that I am not sure they think so. You can see this in their newspaper: any Haredi politician, no matter how small, who is elected to the Knesset, is referred to as a great ‘Rabbi’, even if he has no rabbinic qualifications, whereas when writing about our [religious Zionist] rabbis, they omit the title altogether. 

In our study halls you can find all the books of Torah erudition, but in the Haredi study halls you won’t find any books written by giants of Torah who were Zionists. Can you name one Haredi yeshiva with the books of Rabbi Kook on the shelf? Not books of Jewish Thought, nor books of Jewish Law. My heart aches, but it does not change the fact that we are a family. I'm not saying it's easy, but you have to overcome the difficulties. I would hope that if ordinary Haredim would recognize us as we are, it would be different. You have to get to know one another. Our Haredi brothers and our secular brothers have to get to know us and we have to get to know them."

Go on to Part 3: Influencing Public Values

Passover interview with Rabbi Drukman - Part 1 of 3: The 'Formerly Religious' Phenomenon

"Do everything you can to ensure the future of the people and the country."

Rabbi Haim Drukman established a generation and paved the way for the religious Zionist movement in many areas. Apart from the love of Torah and love of Israel, he has a great message here for today's youth

By Ariel Horowitz – Arutz Sheva, Small World Magazine, 12 Nissan 5775, 01/04/15 (Translation)

Rabbi Drukman at memorial service
for Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, zt"l
This year, as every year, Rabbi Haim Drukman visited the grave of his mentor, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Hacohen Kook, on the Mount of Olives on his yortzeit (the Fast of Esther). Thirty years have passed since that rainy day that Rabbi Zvi Yehuda was buried. "I think that his character is sorely missed today," said Rabbi Drukman with sad eyes, "In many situations, I feel that he is missing." How symbolic that three years ago, on his way back home from the Mount of Olives, the rabbi received notification of winning the Israel Prize.

"The real prize is the privilege to contribute to the nation, the state, the Israeli public," says Rabbi Drukman, "When there is official recognition of this enterprise, it certainly adds value."  Rabbi Drukman’s modest words actually allude to several enterprises: his establishment of Bnei Akiva yeshivas in Israel, his many years of work with the Association of Hesder Yeshivot and his position as head of the Israel government’s Conversion Authority. This last role put him in a severe – some would say explosive – conflict with the ultra-Orthodox Haredi world.

In his book-lined study at his home in Merkaz Shapira, a small religious community in the south, just a short walking distance from Yeshivat Bnei Akiva Or Etzion that he founded, Rabbi Drukman sits, learning and teaching, advising students and rabbis, in person and on the phone; Looking down from above is a painting of Rabbi Kook, whose name he mentions during our conversation over and over again. Just before Passover we came to his home to talk to him, to try to understand some of his teachings, and to hear his thoughts on religious Zionism, today's youth and Israeli society.

‘Taking off the hat’


When I ask Rabbi Drukman to recall the religious world that he experienced in his youth, he was not tempted to glorify the past and put down the present. As usual, he is full of gratitude for our situation today. "The situation in the days of my boyhood was far different from the case today. Like [the distance between] heaven and earth. I was once interviewed on a Channel One TV program, and the interviewer said, 'Israel is full of religious education, but it is also full of datlashim - formerly religious people!' I replied: 'Let your ears hear what your mouth is saying: There are also formerly religious people! Decades ago the majority were formerly religious people! You have to understand that just a few decades ago everyone was traveling in just one direction: the off-ramp leaving the path Torah and the Mitzvot.

Boys and girls finished the eighth grade in a religious school, and that was the end of all their connection to Judaism. They were drawn to the big ideas of that era: building the Land, pioneering, Socialism; and it seemed to them that these ideas had nothing to do with the Torah. We would say, 'so-and so has taken off his hat' – because in those days the boys would go with hats, berets, in public. Who ever dreamed that religious youth would go on the street wearing a kipa? How can anyone not see what a revolution took place? Today there is a world of tremendous religious Zionist Torah that is unprecedented! We have an entire population; we have institutions and youth movements. Look at how much value there is in [religious Zionist] education; how effective it is and how much it influences."   

Are ‘formerly religious’ people today leaving religion for the same reasons as before?

"I don’t think so. Today, it is usually the religiously weak youth, those without a strong religious background; boys who went with a kipa but without any commitment to religious Zionist values. If there are internal values, you can stand up to all kinds of crises and difficulties, exposure to other influences and peer pressure. But if there are no values, a religious upbringing will not last. Some people are outraged when formerly religious people are referred to as 'captured babies’ [who never learned Torah]. They claim that that the formerly religious are people with great values who turned to another path after thoroughly investigating [religion]. But no one can convince me this is the reality. [In most cases] it is a weak youth who comes into contact with a particular social group, and finds it difficult to resist the peer pressure; so he allows himself to pulled along in order to fit in. What can you do? It is a sign of lack of character. It is important that we fill our students with substance and develop their character, [so they will have the backbone] to stand on their own."

Do you think that secularization is associated only through one’s encounter with another world, or can is be due to problems in the religious world itself?

"You cannot generalize. In most cases, it is about a weak character who could not cope with the reality around him, but there are also youths who were disappointed with the religious world, so they left. Rabbi Kook, of blessed memory, wrote long ago that people, by mistake, relate to Judaism through those who they see practicing it [rather than for what it really is]. Sometimes someone may encounter a rabbi that disappoints him, and because of it he projects that disappointment onto the values the rabbi seems to represent. One needs to make a distinction between a specific rabbi and whole of the religious world. It is the identification of Judaism with a specific individual that often creates the motivation to become secular."

Go to Part 2: Rabbis and Politics

Go to AFYBA Website

Rabbi Haim Drukman honored by Bar Ilan University

From left: Prof. Shmuel Vargon, Rabbi Haim Drukman
and Rabbi Noam Perl (photo: Yoni Hamenachem)
Rabbi Haim Drukman, Chairman of the YBA Educational Network in Israel and Rosh Yeshiva of the YBA Or Etzion Hesder Yeshiva was one of five distinguished Israelis to be awarded the Brookdale Prize for Exceptional Contribution to Israeli Society by Bar Ilan University. He was awarded the prize “for his many years of activity for the advancement of Torah education, and for his multi-faceted contributions to Israeli Society.” 

Rabbi Drukman is an Israel Prize Laureate (2012) for Lifetime Achievement. He is one of the most senior and well-respected leaders of the religious Zionist population in Israel. He founded and still heads a number of important institutions, including YBA Or Etzion yeshiva high school, Or Etzion IDF military cadet high school, Or Etzion Hesder Yeshiva, Mechinat Or MeOfir for Ethiopian Olim, AMI Conversion Institute, and Mechina of the Northern Negev. In addition, as the former head of the Prime Minister's Office Conversion Authority, he has personally signed off on over 50,000 conversions in Israel, and as chairman of the YBA Educational Network in Israel, he is the spiritual leader of our 24,000 students. 

The award was presented by Prof. Shmuel Vargon, of the Zalman Shamir Bible Dept. of BIU, and Rabbi Noam Perl, the Secretary General of the Bnei Akiva Worldwide Youth Movement, Rabbi Perl was Rabbi Drukman's student at YBA Or Etzion, and went on to found and head the YBA Sussya Yeshiva High School for Environmental Studies.





Rabbi Haim Drukman on Israel's new Conversion Law: "This is a great day."

Rabbi Haim Drukman
Rabbi Haim Drukman, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hesder Or Etzion and Chairman of Yeshivot Bnei Akiva, was the first to call to congratulate MK Elazar Stern following the passage of a new law in the Knesset that will allowing chief rabbis of cities in Israel to establish their own rabbinical courts for conversion to Judaism.

MK Stern, a graduate of YBA Netiv Meir and former IDF general, represents the "Hatunua" party in the Knesset and was the driving force behind the bill, which is expected to speed up the conversion process for thousands immigrants from the FSU and their children, who are living Jewish lives as full Israeli citizens, but are not considered Jewish according to Jewish law (Halacha).

In his phone conversation congratulating MK Stern, Rabbi Drukman said, "This is a great day for Israel and the Jewish People."

MK Elazar Stern
MK Stern commented that, "most importantly, we have returned religious Zionist rabbis to being the gatekeepers of our people - rabbis that are connected to the complexities of Israeli society and the Jewish nation, and not distanced from people; rabbis who belief that the Jewish identity of the State of Israel is not something that we can take for granted, but is a challenge that we must work at day-by-day to develop and preserve."

YBA Tikvat Yaakov marks 60th anniversary with Torah Scroll dedication

Meir Nordlicht completing the final letter of a Torah Scroll
Two new Torah Scrolls were dedicated in a special celebratory luncheon at YBA Tikvat Yaakov,on October 19th, marking the 60th anniversary of the yeshiva high school. The Torah Scrolls were donated by the children of Jules and Barbara Nordlicht, in honor of their father's 80th birthday.

YBA Tikvat Yaakov, located at Moshav Sde Yaakov in the Jezzriel Valley, was established in 1954 as the fourth Bnei Akiva high school yeshiva in Israel.

Meir and Chaim Nordlicht dance with new Torah Scrolls
accompanied by YBA Chairman, Rabbi Haim Drukman, 


The Jules and Barbara Nordlicht were among the first supporters of YBA Tikvat Yaakov, and the American Friends of YBA.

Their sons, Meir and Chaim Nordlicht and their wives continue the family tradition of support for YBA institutions in Israel, and by bringing their children to Israel for the dedication ceremony, they are educating yet another generation.to hold the YBA educational network in high esteem.




YBA Tikvat Yaakov students joyously dancing with the two new Torah Scrolls
before placing them in the Ark

From left: Chaim Nordlicht, Meir Nordlicht, Jules Nordlicht, Rabbi Yaakov Ackerman,
Rabbi Haim Drukman, Naftali Kandler, Rabbi Malachi Kofman, Rotem Haniya, Tzachi Saada

YBA Lapid Torat Nachum to host community-wide Tikun Leil Hoshana Rabba in Modiin


YBA Lapid Torat Nachum invited the entire population of Modiin to join them on Tuesday night, October 14, for a traditional all-night Torah learning marathon (Tikun) celebrating Hoshana Rabba - the last day of Sukkot before Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah.

The yeshiva lined up an allstar cast of Torah scholars to lecture during the all-night event, including (in order of appearance):

  • Rabbi Beni Nachtailer, Director General of the YBA Educational Network in Israel
  • Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan
  • MK Tzippy Hotovely, Deputy Minister of Transportation
  • Rabbi David Stav, Chief Rabbi of Shoham
  • Rabbi Shmuel Rosenblum, Rosh Yeshiva of YBA Lapid Torat Nachum, Modiin
  • MK Rabbi Shay Peron, Minister of Education
  • Rabbi David Lau, Chief Rabbi of Israel
  • Rabbi Haim Drukman, Chairman of the YBA Educational Network in Israel
  • Rabbi Yaakov Meidan, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hesder Har Etzion
  • Rabbi Dani Singles, Rosh Yeshiva of YBA Yeshivat Hesder Netzeret Elite
  • Mrs. Rachel Fraenkel
  • Rabbi Haim Baruch, Rosh Mechinat Atzmona
  • Rabbi Aryeh Handler, Rosh Yeshivat Hesder Ramla
  • Rabbi Elisha Vishlitski
  • Rabbi Yaakov Chikotai, Chief Rabbi of Modiin-Maccabim-Reut
  • Rabbi Eliyahu Alharir, Chief Rabbi of Modiin-Maccabim-Reut
  • Rabbi Asher Corsia, Rosh Ulpanat Bnei Akiva Oror Modiin

Raising the bar: YBA Yagdil Torah Program inspires young Talmud scholars

Ben Landy (L) with YBA Chairman Rabbi Haim Drukman
and Yagdil Torah founder, Rabbi Dr. Yehuda Felix
For the past seven years thousands of boys have dedicated part of their leisure time to Talmud study, thanks to YBA's unique Yagdil Torah program.

The Yagdil Torah program is the brainchild of YBA's former Director of Education, Rabbi Dr. Yehuda Felix and its primary patron, Mr. Ben Landy. 

Students participating in the Yagdil Torah program commit to studying at least 50 pages of Talmud per year over and above their regular Jewish Studies curriculum. 

"Every generation of the Jewish people needs Torah Scholars," explains Mr. Lande, "The only way to produce first-class scholars is by starting to train them at a young age in mind-challenging study of the Talmud. I am happy to help provide incentives for these fine young minds to master the skills it takes to become true Talmidei Chachamim." 

In the past year approximately 500 students in 17 schools participated on the program and 170 successfully mastered the study material, achieving scores of 80% or better in the exams administered just before the summer vacation. In the recent ceremony presenting the students with their rewards, classic Jewish texts, Mr. Landy noted that the students collectively merited the study of over 10,000 pages of Talmud

Chief of Police visits YBA Or Etzion

Chief of Israel Police,
Yochanan Danino

Col. Eylon Hyman, Danino
and Rosh Yeshiva Micha Klatzhandler
Last week, YBA Or Etzion, in the northern Negev village of Merkaz Shapira, hosted Israeli Chief of Police Yochanan Danino. Danino, who graduated from YBA Or Etzion over 30 years ago, toured the yeshiva campus with today's Rosh Yeshiva Micha Klatzhandler and the Or Etzion Military Academy with the Academy's IDF commander, Col. Eylon Hyman.

Danino with Rabbi Drukman
Following the tour of the school's facilities, Police Chief Danino met with his former Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Haim Drukman, who today serves as Rosh Yeshiva to the Or Etzion Hesder Yeshiva and Rabbinical College (Kollel), and Chairman of Merkaz YBA.

In his lecture to the students of the yeshiva, Danino said that, "the four years that I spent at Or Etzion shaped my life and continue to influence me until today." He concluded by saying that he would like to see more graduates of the YBA high school yeshivot going for careers in the Israel Police Department.