Training Israel's Future: How to Save a Life

Purim is usually associated with levity, silly costumes and partying. But for the girls at UBA Chen Bamidbar in Beer Sheva, the holiday this year was an opportunity to demonstrate their LEADERSHIP and SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, to raise over 40,000 shekels ($10,000) for 11-year old Ayala Shapira, a young victim of terror.

Terror Victim Ayala Shapira
Ayala was severely burned when a molotov cocktail (fire bomb) struck the car she was riding in with her father on December 25, 2014. Doctors succeeded in saving her life, but she is still facing many more months of rehabilitation and painful skin graft operations.

"About 3,000 people came out for the Purim carnival our students planned to benefit Ayala," said Rosh Ulpana, Rabbi Yoni Samuel. "It shows that people are thirsting for opportunities to do Chesed!" The ulpana campus was converted into a festive marketplace for the carnival, with local merchants and pizza parlors donating their wares, which added greatly to the event's profits. 

UBA Chen Bamidbar was founded in 1999 and serves about 550 girls in grades 7-12. While over half the school's students come from low income families and receive tuition reductions accordingly, over 80% complete full matriculation each year, paving the way to higher education and a better future.

Read more about Ayala Shapira
Top left: Netanya mayor, Miriam Fireberg with YBA Yad Avraham boys;
Bottom: Emily Schwartzman

In a similar story, the students of YBA Yad Avraham in Netanya last month succeeded in raising over 20,000 shekels ($5,000) in one night on behalf of Emily Schwartzman, a three and a half year old girl living in the city who is in need of a life-saving medical procedure in the US. 

In this instance, the students made an appeal for contributions over the PA system at the Netanya Stadium during a soccer match between Maccabi Netanya and Beitar Jerusalem, then spread out in the stands to “pass the hat” among the fans to donate their pocket change. Netanya Mayor Miriam Fireberg congratulated the boys for their initiative after the game.

YBA Yad Avraham was founded in 1960 and serves about 500 boys in grades 7-12. Over 88% complete full matriculation each year, and 100% serve in IDF combat units. Many of the school's alumni are leaders in their fields, including:
  • Prof. Yitzchak Kraus, President of Herzog College of Education
  • Rabbi Baruch Weider, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivat Hesder Hakotel
  • Rabbi Yossi Stern, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivat Hesder Akko
  • Elad Tshuva, Deputy Chairman of Delek Group
  • Yisrael Fried, CEO, Galei Zahal Radio
  • Yair Orbach, Stand-up Comedian
YBA Yad Avraham campus in Netanya
YBA: Training Israel's Future.

Rabbi Stewart Weiss on YBA Yeshivat Hesder Hakotel in the Jerusalem Post

Jerusalem Post, Friday, October 31, 2014
Heroes and villains 

LONE SOLDIERS who study at Yeshivat Hakotel
take a break from training at their base. (Courtesy)
Whenever I start to get depressed or disenchanted by the state of Jewish affairs, I throw some cold water on my face and look in the direction of some of the amazing people within our Jewish community. People who are devoted to decency, humanity, the Jewish state and the Jewish way of life. And that revitalizes me and brings back hope.

I recently attended a Succot dinner at Yeshivat Hakotel, honoring the more than 120 lone soldiers from around the world who have chosen to study at Hakotel and volunteer in the IDF. These enthusiastic participants in the Mahal program leave their family, their friends and their “normal” routine to come to Israel and put their lives on the line for the state. Almost all of them end up becoming citizens, marrying here and staying in Israel, and many of them “drag” their families after them.

I asked one of the boys, Barak Klammer from Woodmere, how his parents felt about him serving in a combat unit in the Givati Brigade. “A little nervous,” he said, “but a lot proud.”

Nati Wind of Teaneck told me: “All the questions Americans ask – ‘Why are you here? Are you scared? Are you coming back?’ – don’t even register with me. This is where I belong.”

Another young man, Ami Younger from Montreal, was one of 100 Hakotel students who fought in the recent Gaza war and is now married and studying economics at Bar-Ilan University. “I was raised in Canada,” he said with a smile, “but I grew up in Israel.”

Friday night Yeshivat Hakotel Kabbalat Shabbat services at the Western Wall Plaza.  (Courtesy)
Hakotel is a fascinating institution. In the days following the Six Day War, the government was determined to establish a firm Jewish presence in the Old City. The Jordanians, during their 19-year occupation of Jerusalem, had demolished the synagogues and desecrated the Western Wall, dumping garbage and grazing their animals there. An institution needed to be built that would restore and reflect the spiritual intensity of the Holy City, and fill its ancient streets with the sound of Torah study. Yeshivat Hakotel was born, and has become famous for the hundreds of boys who march down to the Kotel each Friday night, leading the entire plaza in song and dance.

Rav Chaim Yeshayahu Hadari, one of the original founders of Hakotel and still a teacher there, recounts how archeologists discovered a large mound of ashes beneath a home (known today as “the Burnt House”) in the Old City, ashes dating from the destruction of the Temple. “When a Jewish boy marries,” says the rabbi, “there is a custom to place ashes on his forehead in memory of the Temple. I take some of these same ashes and place it on our students, not just to remember the tragedy, but to also celebrate the triumph of the Jewish people, who have returned forever to Jerusalem.”

Yeshivat Hakotel honors its overseas program IDF soldiers and Chairman Kurt Rothschild

The first Tribute Dinner in the 47 year history of Yeshiva Hakotel took place during Chol Hamoed Sukkot, in a specially built Sukkah on the roof of the yeshiva, with a view of the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.

As the first event leading up to the yeshiva's 50th anniversary in 2017, Yeshivat Hakotel honored the 120 students from its Overseas Program who volunteered to enlist in the IDF through its Machal program over the past 11 years. Eighty of these young men have already made Aliyah.  

Yeshivat Hakotel not only has the most IDF soldiers from all the various yeshiva overseas students programs in Israel; it has more than all the other yeshivot combined! (See video)

Yeshivat Hakotel also honored the Chairman of its Board of Directors,  Mr. Kurt Rothschild, who made Aliyah with his wife Edith two years ago. Mr. Rothschild has been involved in the yeshiva since its inception in December 1967, and along with the Wohl family from London, was the person most responsible for the building of the yeshiva's permanent campus, which it occupies today.
After the welcome by alumnus Yisrael Dov Meyer, Divrei Torah were given by Rosh Hayeshiva Harav Baruch Wieder and founding Rosh Yeshiva Harav Chaim Yeshayahu Hadary. The honored guest speaker was the Minister of Defense, Moshe "Bogie" Yaalon

The over 220 people in the Sukkah, which included soldiers, Israeli and overseas alumni, parents and friends, were also treated to listening to the beautiful voice of the Chief IDF Cantor, Shai Avramson.

Alumni Profile: Rabbi Haim Sabato, Novelist, Rosh Yeshiva

Rabbi Haim Sabato was born to a family of Aleppan descent in Cairo. In the 1950s, his family immigrated to Israel and lived in a transit camp in Kiryat Yovel, Jerusalem

He is a graduate of YBA Netiv Meir in Bayit Vegan and the Hesder  program at Yeshivat Hakotel, in Jerusalem's Old City, which combines yeshiva study with military service. His experiences during the Yom Kippur War, at the age of 21, led him to write Adjusting Sights

After the war, Sabato spent the next ew years at Yeshivat Mercaz Harav, the spiritual home of religious Zionism. After receiving rabbinical ordination, Sabato co-founded the yeshiva in Ma'aleh Adumim in 1977.

Sabato's lyrical writing, with sentences studded with phrases drawn from and referring to passages in the Bible and Talmud has won him comparison to a Nobel Prize Laureate S.I. Agnon.

Sabato was awarded the Sapir Prize for Literature in its inaugural year, as well as the Yitzhak Sadeh Prize, for his second work, Teum Kavanot (Adjusting Sights in the English translation), a moving account of the experiences of a soldier in the Yom Kippur War. The book has also been made into a film.

His third publication, KeAfapey Shachar (published in English as Dawning of the Day: A Jerusalem Tale), tells the story of Ezra Siman Tov, a religious Jerusalemite coming to terms with a changing world.
Sabato's latest work, Bo'ee HaRuach (published in English as From the Four Winds), describes his experiences as an "oleh chadash" (a new immigrant) in the Israeli "ma'abarot" - transit camps - of the 1950s.
[Based on Wikipedia]

Yeshivat Hakotel to honor overseas students in the IDF

On Sunday, October 12, 2014, the first day of Chol Hamoed Sukkot, Yeshivat Hesder Hakotel, in Jerusalem's Old City, will hold a tribute dinner honoring long-time board member and supporter, Mr. Kurt Rothschild, and his wife, who recently made aliyah from Toronto, Ontario.

The yeshiva will also use the occasion to honor the many graduates from their Overseas Students Program, who stayed in Israel to voluntarily enlist in the IDF.

Yeshivat Hakotel Overseas Students Program
graduates in the IDF
Pictured at left (from L to R) are: Zach Cohn from Chicago, Alex Katz and Gavi Nelson from New York, and Mordi Grunseid.

The four Overseas Program graduates enlisted together into the IDF Artillery Corps in March 2014, and are pictured here at their training course graduation ceremony (tekes kumta)  held at the Artillery Corps Memorial in Zichron Yaakov.

The dinner will be held at 17:30 on the roof of Yeshivat Hakotel (covert: $75 p/p). For more information and reservations, contact Don Kates, 052-830-8293, don@hakotel.org.il.

Yeshivat Hakotel Sukkah Dinner to Honor Kurt Rothschild and Soldiers

YBA Yeshivat Hesder Hakotel is planning to mark its upcoming 50th anniversary (in 2017) with a series of programs and events. The first event will be a Tribute Dinner -- to be hosted, for the first time ever, at the Yeshivat Hakotel campus in Jerusalem's Old City Jewish Quarter. The dinner is scheduled for Sunday, Chol Hamoed Sukkot, October 12, 2014 at 5:30 pm.

The dinner will be held in a specially constructed sukkah on the roof of Yeshivat Hakotel, with its breath-taking panoramic view of the Western Wall Plaza and the Temple Mount. The yeshiva will proudly honor the 120 graduates of the Overseas Program who have volunteered to serve in the IDF over the last 11 years, mostly as "lone soldiers" in the Machal program. 

These young men, 80 of whom have made Aliya, put their futures on hold and their lives on the line in order to serve Am Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael. (For more background, read the recent Jerusalem Post Op/Ed piece by Michael Freund.)

The dinner will also honor, Mr. and Mrs. Kurt Rothschild, President of the World Mizrachi Movement, who made Aliya from Toronto a few years ago. Kurt and his wife Edith are closely connected to Yeshivat Hakotel. Kurt is a member of the yeshiva's Board of Directors, and has been involved in the construction and development of the yeshiva campus since its inception in 1967.  

The Dinner will be followed by a Simchat Bet Hashoeva featuring live musical entertainment, divrei Torah and greetings by leading rabbis and political figures.  

Yeshivat Hakotel invites visitors to Israel during Sukkot to join in this celebration.  Due to the limited seating in the rooftop sukkah, early reservations are a must. To reserve your seat at the table, or to place an ad in the dinner's Tribute Journal in honor of Mr. & Mrs. Rothschild or any of the special young men who have served in the IDF, contact Don Katesdon@hakotel.org.il / 052-830-8293.

YBA and AFYBA Mourn 3 Graduates Killed in Operation Protective Edge

Three of the 64 IDF soldiers and seven Israeli civilians killed during the 50 days of Operation Protective Edge were graduates of Yeshivot Bnei Akiva high schools.

The Yeshivot Bnei Akiva Educational Network in Israel and the American Friends of YBA extend their condolences to the families all the fallen soldiers and civilian casualties, and in particular to the families of our three alumni:

Capt. Tsvi Kaplan, 28, of Kibbutz Merav, was killed in Gaza. Kaplan was set to become a company commander in the Golani Brigade in the coming months. He is a graduate of YBA Yavne, Haifa

Chief Warrant Officer Rami Kahlon, 39, a non-commissioned officer serving in the Paratroopers Brigade, died after succumbing to wounds he had sustained in Gaza the week before. He is a graduate of YBA Beit Shmuel, Hadera and is the father of two students presently studying in the YBA high schools in the city.

St.-Sgt. Evyatar Turgeman, 20, from Beit She'an, was killed on July 18 morning in a firefight with terrorists in Gaza. Turgeman served in the Paratroopers Brigade. He was a graduate of YBA Beit Shean and student at YBA Yeshivat Hesder Hakotel.

Read about all 64 IDF soldiers who gave their lives in service to their country in the Jerusalem Post In Memoriam coverage.

Yehi Zichram Baruch.


Harav Kook's yortzeit, 3 Elul, 79 years after his passing

Harav Avraham YItzchak Hacohen Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael, appointed by the Britixh Mandate authorities, did not live to see the birth of the State of Israel.

But he is widely regarded as the father of modern religious Zionism for his embracing of the secular Zionist movement as Hashem's instrument of bringing the Geula - the redemption of the Land and Nation of Israel.

On Harav Kook's yortzeit, 3 Elul, thousands of religious Zionist Jews from Israel and abroad, including the students of YBA Yeshivat Hesder Hakotel, converged at his grave site on Har Hazeitim (the Mount of Olives) to pay tribute to his blessed memory and his prophetic vision.

View the video: