IDF

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

One Israeli family has found the best way to remember a fallen soldier

Major Benaya Rhein, z"l
Nine years have passed since the life of Major Benaya Rhein, z"l, was cut short by a Hizbalah anti-tank missile, just two days before the end of the Second Lebanon War.

Benaya was born in 1979 and was the third out of eight children of his parents, Shimon and Chagit. He was raised in Karnei Shomron and graduated from the YBA Netiv Meir yeshiva high school in Jerusalem.

This past week the Rhein family closed a circle, when all seven of Benaya's siblings named a child after him. The first cousin to be named for Benaya was born on the day that he died in 2006, and the seventh cousin named Benaya was born just two weeks ago, on the ninth anniversary of his death.

"All our children decided on their own to name a son after Benaya; we never mentioned it or pressured them to do it," said Chagit Rhein at the Brit Milah ceremony. "We have 24 grandchildren, and it can't be taken for granted that seven of them are named Benaya. When they grow up and ask why they share the same name, we will tell them about their uncle Benaya, who was a true hero; who was taught to love Israel and who died defending our country."

From his childhood, Benaya displayed values of truth, generosity and courage. After the outstanding religious Zionist education he received and YBA Netiv Meir, it was quite natural for him to join the armored corps and to become an outstanding soldier in the training courses he took and in the duties he was given.

At the beginning of the war, Benaya was in transition between duties and had no unit to join. Nevertheless he insisted on receiving a mission, and was appointed to rescue and supply operations. During the war "Force Benaya" conducted many courageous missions and saved the lives of many soldiers. On August 12th, on the way to one more mission inside Lebanon, a missile hit his tank and all the crewmen were killed.
For their bravery, Benaya and his crewmen received the decoration of honor from the Central Command. Benaya is buried in Karnei Shomron in the land of Israel that he loved without condition or compromise.

View memorial video for Major Benaya Rhein: 


How Israeli students learn to love the Land of Israel

Rahavam 'Gandi' Ze'evi
Two students from Ulpanat Bnei Akiva Even Shmuel received the 2015 Ministry of Education Ze’evi Award for Excellence in Land of Israel Studies. The prize is named after Israeli war hero and MK, Rahavam Ze'evi ("Gandi"), who was assassinated by a terrorist in 2001. Ze'evi was known for his patriotism, deep love for the Land of Israel and strongly nationalistic political views.

Hila Itam and Herut Yered submitted a research paper exploring the reasons why the Jordanian Legion’s officers allowed their soldiers to participate in the massacre of Jewish residents and Hagana fighters following the surrender of Kfar Etzion on the eve of Israel’s independence in 1948.

'Gandi' with troops during 1956 Sinai Campaign
Hila explained that she chose the subject because her great grandmother served in the Hagana with Rahavam Ze'evi, and at that time she was the radio operator in Jerusalem who received the final message – “the queen has fallen” – from the fighters defending Kfar Etzion till their last bullet was spent.

UBA Even Shmuel was established by the Shafir Regional Council in 1979 as a residential high school to serve girls from the religious moshavim (agricultural settlements) in the northern Negev region. Today the school serves 420 students in grades 7-12, and attracts students from all over Israel due to the many awards it has earned over the years for academic excellence.

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. 

YBA Alumni Profiles: Lt. Matan Horesh, YBA Givat Shmuel

In his first interview since Operation Protective Edge, Lt. Matan Horesh talks about his decision to enter the tunnel to search for Lt. Hadar Goldin, his nagging sense of personal failure, the many months he refused to talk about the operation, and his objections to the Facebook campaign to give him a medal

by Tal Ariel Amir, Ma’ariv Online, July 11, 2015
Lt. Matan Horesh (Photo: Ariel Besor)
Sometimes at night Lt. Matan Horesh returns to that day, “Black Friday,” in the Gaza Strip, when he chased through the tunnel where Hamas terrorists dragged the body of Lt. Hadar Goldin, z”l. He relives the scene again; he feel of the dank concrete walls and the darkness that enveloped him and Lt. Eitan Fund. In his dream they stride forward, shoulder to shoulder, searching in the dark for their kidnapped comrade. Suddenly the terrorists step out before them. Fund and Horesh open fire and manage to kill them, then make their way back, carrying Goldin on their backs wounded, but still alive.

That is the dream that Lt. Horesh, the officer who received a citation for his bravery in battle for what happened that night, prefers to dream. On other nights he wakes up disappointed when the painful reality slaps him in the face. In some dreams, he is walking alone toward the end of the tunnel when he sees the barrel of a gun pointing at him between the eyes, with a terrorist’s finger about to pull the trigger. That's when he wakes up.

Lt. Hadar Goldin, z"l
The battle of Rafah, on Friday, August 1, 2014, is considered one of the most significant battles of Operation Protective Shield. Three fighters from the Givati recon unit, the commander, Major Benaya Sarel, Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sergeant Liel Gidoni, were killed by Hamas an hour after the announcement of a cease-fire. The attempted abduction of Goldin and the heroic effort to rescue him resonated loudly in the media. But while Fund was presented as the hero who found the evidence that led to the pronouncement of Goldin's death, it seemed that Horesh was absent from the headlines. His frustrated friends pressured him to tell about his part in the incident, but the officer preferred to remain silent.

When the IDF’s Citation Commission published its intention to decorate Fund, a friend of the Horesh family decided to open up a Facebook page calling for Lt. Horesh to be awarded the Order of Courage medal. The impact of the campaign on the officer was like an unwanted bear hug. Only later did it become clear that Horesh was on the top of the list of soldiers to receive decorations, along with the other fighters involved in the tunnel episode.

Lt. Matan Horesh (Photo: Ariel Besor)
In his first in-depth interview, Lieutenant Horesh, who will start next week training cadets at the IDF Combat Officer Training Base, discusses his decision to enter the tunnel with Fund, the months of silence about the operation and his reservations about the campaign calling on the IDF to give him a medal: “I knew that the intentions were good, but I really disliked the campaign, because I was afraid people would think I was behind it," he says. 'I don’t have a Facebook account, so at first, I didn’t know what impact it had on the public and the media. But when people began to mention it to me, I immediately forbade my family to be interviewed and asked them to erase the page.”

Were you afraid that the public would doubt your worthiness if you were to receive the Citation for Courage because of the campaign?
"At no stage did I stop to think about if receiving a medal would hurt me or not. It’s just that all the hoopla is not my nature. After the operation, I concentrated on my soldiers and our operational deployments in the field. I just didn’t feel comfortable about the campaign. I don’t care about what people think about me; what is most important to me is that I tried to save Hader.

How did you react when you retreated from the Gaza Strip and left Hadar Goldin behind?
The moment when we left Gaza seemed strange to me. I didn’t feel that we are abandoning Hadar, the battalion did everything to find him at all costs, and the evidence of that is that the family was able to give him a burial. However, I had the feeling of a missed opportunity. In the final analysis, we returned to Israel and he was not with us."

Today, a year after Operation Protective Edge, you think Goldin's rescue operation should have been handled differently?
'I have only myself to criticize. Sometimes I think maybe I should have run faster in the tunnel; or maybe I shouldn’t have gone back to get reinforcements. But now, in hindsight, I see that the possibility of finding Hadar was doomed from the start because of the element of time. It took several minutes before it became clear to us that he was abducted, and until we entered the tunnel. In all likelihood by that time he was already out the other side, in the heart of the Hamas stronghold."

"I acted like a robot"
Horesh started Operation Protective Edge as a young second lieutenant, straight out of Officer Training School and intended for the job of Engineering and Sabotage squad commander, in the Givati Brigade’s Reconnaissance Battalion. He received his squad just ten days before the ground forces entered the Gaza Strip, and one day before the start of the operation. Initially Horesh’s squad was intended to deal with the evacuation of the wounded, however, just before the zero hour, his orders were changed to provide security back-up for the company commander, Major Eli Gino. The operation was a challenge for the beginner commanding officer. He did not know his squad of fighters, their strengths and weaknesses, and he had no time to run drills alongside them beforehand.

Hamas terror tunnel in Gaza
Saturday, July 19, was set as the day the Givati Reconnaissance Battalion would enter Gaza. The fighters’ objective was to seek out and secure tunnels used by Hamas combatants in the Rafah District. After a day of searching without success, the regiment returned to Israel, and the next night went into the Khirbet Khizeh neighborhood further to the north. “We situated ourselves with the battalion's command post in one of the houses, around which the rest of our units were stationed,” says Horesh. “In the morning one of our units identified three terrorists coming up from the ground, and killed one of them. The our battalion identified two snipers. One of them was killed and the other captured and used as a source of information. Because of him we found a tunnel with a cache of weapons, hidden under the rubble of a house.

When did you see Benaya for the first time?
I didn’t know him personally, but I saw him at every briefing with the battalion commander. I remember he always demanded high-quality performance and was highly motivated. The most memorable thing I remember him saying was when he asked the company commander if he would make it home for his wedding, which was scheduled for two weeks later. It impressed me. Everyone told Benaya that the operation will be behind us by then. I was closer with his communications assistant, Liel Gidoni, who went through boot camp with me. I never saw him when he wasn’t smiling and calm.”

Lt. Matan Horesh (Photo: IDF Sokesperson)
The battalion came and went to and from Khirbet Khizeh, until it was decided to return to the area of Rafah again, a day before the kidnapping. There were rumors of a ceasefire and we wanted to find the tunnel that we couldn’t find on Sunday,” says Horesh. “We congregated at the staging area and then I had a moment of crisis. I was tired and I thought about the squad of soldiers I got. There was no time for a briefing and I didn’t really know the soldiers well. I felt alone. I found a few seconds of silence and opened my cellphone. That was a mistake. WhatsApp was full of messages about Roey Peles, my friend from the officers' course. They all wrote that he was killed, but I didn’t react. I called a friend and heard that I missed the funeral and shiva. I hung up the phone, I sat down on the sand and just cried. That was the first time someone so close to me was killed. After a few minutes I realized that I had to separate my emotions from the fighting, and to work only with my head. From that moment, I turned off my phone and functioned like a robot. I can understand the dilemma and the desire of soldiers to hear what's going on with other forces, but when you need to fight, it hurts motivation and can be depressing.”

Did you have bad feelings about the continuation of fighting?
“Just when I was told we were going into Rafah for the last time, because the next day will be a ceasefire, I thought about Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were captured on the Lebanon border on the last day before a cease fire. I was afraid that the soldiers will be less vigilant, and that could be a weak point. I spoke with them, I told them to be vigilant and said that it’s impossible to know what will happen; that there may be surprises waiting for us, because a soldier could still be killed tomorrow. After that, I took out my tzitzit, which I had left in my pack because of the heat, and I decided I would wear them until the end of the fighting.”

"We were afraid that everything was booby trapped"
On Thursday night, July 31, the regiment returned to northeast Rafah. The field commander of the battalion, including Horesh and his fighters, settled into one of the buildings. Some 400 meters from them, not far from a complex of greenhouses, Sarel’s forces settled in. "In the morning, as I was about to put on tefillin, one of the soldiers came up to me and told me that a man on a motorcycle had just passed by outside,” Horesh recounts that fateful Friday. “It was weird and I asked them to stay alert. I thought that maybe because of the ceasefire, a few civilians might be returning already to inspect the damage to their homes. I bent down to take the tefillin, then heard a volley of gunfire.”

The house where Lt. Hadar Goldin was abducted.
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson)
“I remember that shortly before that, Benaya reported that a sniper was spotted in the building across from his position and asked for someone to pick him off. Just then the battalion commander called for all unit commanders to report in, and only Benaya didn’t respond. Another officer reported that he could see bodies on the ground. They were Benaya and Liel. Not far from them was the body of a
terrorist. The rescue team approached them and noticed traces of blood leading to the adjoining building, which looked like a kind of watchtower. Inside they found the opening to a tunnel. Once it became clear that Hadar was missing, a “Cannibal Alert” [soldier abducted] situation was declared.”

Lt. Eitan Fund (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)
The commander, Major Gino, Horesh and the other soldiers rushed to the area of the shooting and took cover behind the greenhouses. On the radio they heard that Lt. Fund went down into the tunnel to search for Goldin. “Eitan realized it would be difficult for him to move forward with all his battle gear on, so he came back up," Horesh said. “We arrived at the place just as he came out of the tunnel. I saw the tunnel entrance on the left corner of the building with its iron lid ajar. Eitan said he could not see anything in the tunnel, so I told him I would go down with him because I had a flashlight on my rifle. We took off our flak jackets and helmets, and took a walkie-talkie. Eitan took a pistol from someone and we went down the iron ladder. The tunnel was completely dark. The flashlight illuminated just a few meters ahead. The air smelled of dust. Eitan shot into the dark, but suddenly his pistol jammed. We decided to continue anyway, and around every 40 meters I shot into the darkness ahead. My ears were constantly ringing because I had no earplugs."

Did you think about the dangers awaiting you in the tunnel?
“Not at first. My body was full of adrenaline and I was just thinking about Hadar. My rifle safety was off with a live bullet in the chamber the whole time we were down there. I thought that if one of the terrorists succeeded to harm me, at least I’d have one bullet to shoot him with before I die. On the top of the tunnel was a wire and I thought it was a booby-trap. I remember that we walked a few minutes following the trail of blood, then we saw the first item that belonged to Hadar. The walkie-talkie didn’t work deep inside the tunnel, so we returned back to report, and then continued searching. As we progressed, we found more of Hadar’s things and there was no doubt he was seriously injured. At one point we got to a fork in the tunnel, so we returned back for reinforcements, and Lt. Shaked Kedar and Staff Sgt. Mekonen Tz'alatz'ao joined us. They also received medals."

Weren’t you afraid it was an ambush?
"That's why we took reinforcements. Tz'alatz'ao was in charge of communications with the officers outside, and Kedar covered us near the fork with his weapon drawn. Eitan and I continued following the blood stains. I saw the drag marks on the ground and realized that Hadar could not walk by himself. We moved about 600 meters and reached a kind of a room with guns, rocket launchers, RPG’s and vests. We were afraid that everything was booby-trapped, but we continued following the tunnel until we got another fork. I noticed blood marks were gone, and it was odd."

What do you think is the reason?
"I believe that the terrorists reached their back-up force and they evacuated Hadar from that point with motorcycles. At that moment Tz'alatz'ao came running and said the brigade commander ordered us out of the tunnel. I was hoping we were called out because they found Hadar. When I realized they hadn’t found him, I was disappointed. But Reconnaissance didn't give up. Our entire force charged the Hamas stronghold, while under fierce gunfire. Our commanders had intelligence information indicating a mosque as the place where is the tunnel exit was located. Our fighters found the opening, but there was no sign Goldin. They were forced to retreat, and two days later our forces returned to Israel."

The silence of warriors
YBA Givat Shmuel
Matan Horesh was born in Bat Yam, and raised in Holon. He attended the YBA yeshiva high school in Givat Shmuel and he spent two years before recruitment at the Shavei Hevron Hesder Yeshiva. In March 2012 he joined the Tracking, Engineering and Sabotage Company of the Givati Brigade. When he finished his officer training course he was supposed to lead a team that was two months away from the end of their basic training, and then continue commanding them in operational missions. The young officer risked his life for a soldier who he didn’t know. He talks about camaraderie and friendship as the highest values, and doesn’t try to hide the difficult moments he experienced during the operation.

“I'll never forget the way we headed back to Israel,” says Horesh recalling those agonizing hours. “The silence of fighters and commanders was like a deafening scream. I saw them all subdued, and it wasn't easy for me to internalize the fact that we had left behind Hadar; we were not able to rescue him. All the way, I thought about his parents, and I wondered how we, as the IDF, would deal with the incident.”
How did you manage to go on?
“It wasn’t easy. For three months I refused to talk about the operation or what I went through in the tunnel. I was surprised when I read the media accounts about the search for Hadar, because I didn’t feel as if we did anything unusual. I wasn't interested in all the talk about citations, and I felt I was becoming closed and dispassionate after the operation. Like, ‘Someone’s getting married? That’s nice. Someone died? Well, life goes on.’ I started to become agitated only after representatives of the IDF's Missing Persons Unit interviewed me about the kidnapping. I couldn’t stop replaying in my mind all the efforts we made to rescue Hadar. It was mostly a process of self-flagellation. I was constantly thinking about what I did wrong and what I could have done differently."

Have you tried to talk with professionals?
“I joined the group therapy discussions in the battalion and told the group that the melancholia that overcame me was bothering me. As if the human part of me was buried. Eventually, I got to the point where I was able to discuss my personal feelings.”

As he describes the dilemmas that accompanied him after the war, it is hard not to think about the description of his actions that earned Horesh the IDF citation. “He showed initiative in his actions, fortitude of character and a willingness to carry out his mision above and beyond the call of duty, and at great personal risk,” said the IDF report. Talking about the medal is awkward for Horesh and he squirms uneasily in his chair. “I didn’t go into the tunnel to win a medal. I never thought that trying to prevent the abduction of a fellow soldier was such a heroic action. IDF teaches us about the importance of not abandoning soldiers in the field, so that's what I did.”

In January this year the media reported that Fund would probably get the Bravery Medal, which was changed to the Distinguished Service Medal, how did you feel when your name was not mentioned?
"At first it was a bit strange, but I didn't care. Three people were killed in that battle, and one of them I knew personally, so why should I waste time over the question of whether someone mentioned my name or not?”

IDF Citation Ceremony (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)
You weren’t offended?
“Definately not. Eitan received the Distinguished Service Medal, because he initiated the tunnel entrance, and entered first. I do not see any less honor in the citation I received, both of us risked our lives for an important purpose.”

Did the kidnapping changed your military perception?
“One of my goals as an educator of officers now is to emphasize to them the importance of being prepared for any extreme situation. You must not be euphoric going into battle, because the battle will not be waged as you expect. Today I believe that were it not for Operation Protective Edge, I would be a very different commander. There is a difference between talking about the battlefield and being a part of it. This is not just theory, but something I experienced. The decision to reject the position of deputy company commander for now, in order to train another cycle of combat officer cadets, was my own. Future officers are the heart of the IDF and the future generation. They are the ones that will affect the soldiers and pass on what I will teach them.”

Will you tell them about your personal experiences and the search for Goldin in the tunnel?
“I believe that the issue will come up.”

Did Operation Protective Edge have any effect on your desire to remain in the army?
I have signed on for another year, and I am not ruling out the option to stay on even longer. I always knew about the importance of the IDF for our country’s defense, but after Operation Protective Edge, that knowledge has been sharpened even more.



MK Nissan Slomiansky: "We need to highlight that Israel is a Jewish state"

"THE GOAL: A SUPREME COURT THAT REPRESENTS THE ENTIRE PUBLIC"

Nissan Slomiansky, the new chairman of the Committee on Constitution, Law and Justice, is against the enactment of Basic Laws and in favor of setting new rules. In a confrontational interview he criticizes the Supreme Court ("Haredim and Arabs feel they are without representation") and promises to see that more and more laws passed by the Knesset will be grounded in Jewish law

By Gideon Alon, ISRAEL TODAY, June 29, 2015 (translation)

MK Nissan Slomiansky
Although only a few weeks have passed since he took office as Chairman of the Knesset Constitution Committee, MK Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home) has strong and clear positions on issues of law and justice, and he knows just what he intends to accomplish during his tenure.

Slomiansky (69) has served ten years in the Knesset, but not continuously. He previously served for more than 20 years (1998-1977) as mayor of Elkana, where he lives with his family. He was a founder of the Gush Emunim movement, and the secretary general and member of the Yesha Council. In 1997 he became an MK for the first time on the NRP list. He lost his seat in the next elections to the 15th Knesset, but returned to the Knesset in 2003 as part of the National Union and has served two terms. In the elections to the 18th Knesset he won first place in the list of the Jewish Home party, but gave up his place for the benefit of the late journalist Uri Orbach. In the 19th Knesset was appointed to the prestigious post of chairman of the Finance Committee.

MK Slomiansky is a very hardworking MK and a pleasant person all around. He was born in Ramat Gan and studied at the YBA Nechalim yeshiva high school and then at Yeshivat Hesder Kerem b'Yavneh, where he received rabbinical ordination. He also has two Master’s degrees, in Physics from Bar-Ilan University, and in Jewish Law from Tel Aviv University.

The Chairman of the Constitution Committee makes no secret of the criticism he has of the Supreme Court, and in particular the judicial activism of the former Chief Justice Aharon Barak. When I reminded him that eight years have passed since Barak resigned, he replies: "But his spirit still reigns there in the Supreme Court."

"The court is not the legislator"

The platform of the Jewish Home party says that you oppose the excessive and unnecessary intervention of the Supreme Court in legalization. What does that mean?

"During the period of Justice Barack, the Supreme Court became the country's chief legislator. For example when I was a legislator, I passed a law that had a particular purpose with explanations and justifications. But when the law came up for judicial review, Barak said: 'I interpret the law differently than the legislature,’ and from that moment on, his interpretation became the binding interpretation in all circumstances.

"Barak also assumed the authority to overturn laws passed by the legislature, which was never the intended role of the Supreme Court. He was not the legislature. If he thought that a law needed changing, there were ways that he could unofficially direct the attention of the politicians to changing the law. The Knesset is the democratic body elected by the public, and therefore the Court must act in accordance with the laws of the Knesset, and assume the authority to overrule them."

You also claim that the Supreme Court is disconnected and does not reflect the general public. How so?

"I'll give you a few examples. In the Barak era the Court upgraded two laws that the Knesset enacted as ordinary laws into Basic Laws [referring to the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty and Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation - GA]. This gave these laws enormous power comparable to a constitution, and then the Court began to compare any new law that the Knesset enacted to these Basic Laws. If Barak’s understanding of the new law passed by the legislature contradicted a Basic Law, he abolished the new legislation. You understand what tremendous authority he assumed for himself? Furthermore, analysis of Supreme Court rulings made by various parties clearly proves that there is still a strong tendency toward the Left on the Court. I aspire that the Supreme Court will be connected to the public, with everyone being represented in some way. Today there are sectors of the general public, including the ultra-Orthodox and the Arabs, who do not feel that the court represents them, and that for all intents and purposes, the Court exists in a vacuum; and that's not good. Once wider sectors of the public feel that the Supreme Court represents them, it will give the Court legitimacy. "

"Change the composition of the committee"

How will you handle this situation?

"First of all by expanding the composition of the Judicial Appointments Committee, so that there will be three ministers instead of two and three MKs instead of two, because today there are three judges on committee who typically operate in coordination with two representatives of the Israel Bar Association, thus controlling a majority on the committee. We need to create a situation on the committee where five committee members will not be able to veto judicial appointments."

Why are you against legislation of other Basic Laws to complete a Constitution?

"In principle, we are against Basic Laws and a Constitution, because we believe that Israel already has a constitution and it is the Bible. In one of the meetings of the Knesset Constitution Committee, which was attended by Justice Barak, I argued with him about the importance of the Constitution. I asked him: 'If you have a constitution, who will interpret it?' And he replied, ‘the Supreme Court.’ I told him I thought the constitution should interpreted by a special court established just for constitutional review, or another external entity composed of public figures, to which he replied: ‘If so, then there is no point to a Constitution.’ The meaning of his words is that once the Constitution is ratified with the Supreme Court as its interpreter - then there will be nothing to prevent the Supreme Court becoming the supreme sovereign."

Your party's platform states that "legislation should be avoided that imposes religious or secular standards, and the status of Jewish law should be upgraded in the country.” What does that mean?

"There's no reason for there to be a conflict between the legislation in the Knesset and Jewish law. To date, no legislation passed by the legislature contradicts Jewish law. It is very important that the Jewish state should incorporate as many concepts as possible from traditional Jewish law in our modern legal system, because many of the 3,000 year-old laws have much beauty. I submitted a bill that states that every lacuna in modern legislation should include precedents found in Jewish law. Jewish law will thereby be modernized while at the same time enriching our modern law."

Do you support the proposal to split the roles of the Attorney General into two positions, one Legal Counsel to the government and the other to head the Public Prosecutor’s Office?

"The issue of separation of the functions of the Attorney General and the head of public prosecution is a heavy topic that needs to be changed, but it should be carried out in a serious manner. I intend to hold in-depth hearings on this issue. The current situation is not good, the Attorney General is essentially the landlord for all ".

"Everyone is equal before the law"

How about the phenomenon of corruption in law enforcement, prosecution, police and among lawyers?

"There is no doubt that it is a very difficult situation when the heads of government - including a former president, a former prime minister, a former finance minister and others - are sent to prison or convicted of serious crimes. Nevertheless, we should view in a positive light the fact that the state is waging a campaign against corruption in such cases, and does not flinch from prosecuting even the most senior positions in government. We must invest in denouncing these kinds of phenomena in our educational system, even in early childhood education."

Look do you think will be the highlight of your activity in your current term of office?

"We need to highlight any parliamentary legislation that first of all, Israel is a Jewish state. When Barak was president of the Supreme Court, he turned the tables and explained Jewish state as something amorphous and abstract. Therefore, with any law enacted by the Knesset we must emphasize that we are a Jewish state, and interpret what the Jewish moral tradition is in this area of Statecraft. Take for example the Law of Return. When the state was established the state’s leaders had the wisdom to enact the Law of Return, as well as family law governing marriage and divorce, so that we can live here as a Jewish state. We also will need to make changes in the laws regarding governance and national sovereignty. "


Slomiansky believes he has a chance to promote these changes: "A leader needs to have ambition, a desire to move forward, and to know what he wants to accomplish. It’s a bit difficult with a coalition of 61 Knesset members, but I'm optimistic."

IDF Manpower Chief: "Hesder Yeshiva students bring an added value to the army"

Maj. Gen. Hagai Topolinsky
Major General Hagai Topolinsky, the newly appointed head of IDF Personnel Directorate, recently met with the heads of the Hesder Yeshiva Association at the home of Rabbi Haim Drukman in Merkaz Shapira. General Topolinsky listened to the Roshei Yeshiva describe their educational philosophy in training students to serve in the army while at the same time training to become Torah scholars, the difficulties they face in running their yeshivot and their vision for the future.

In response, Topolinsky said, "Your Hesder Yeshivot are producing high-quality individuals who are role models for the other soldiers of Zionism and Jewish values. This is a bonus for the IDF - an added value - that is unparalleled." He added, "Our major challenge in Israeli society is to bring together and unite the various sectors of our population. You have an important role to play in achieving that goal."

General Topolinsky recalled to the rabbis his personal memories of commanding Hesder soldiers in the army, "The norms of behavior, Jewish values and Zionist idealism that the Hesder yeshiva students bring with them to the army, I tell you, are the envy of the entire community, including secular Israelis. It is a pleasure to serve as their commander, and we very much appreciate them."

YBA Alumni Profiles: Damas Pikada, YBA Torah U'Mada (To"M)

Damas Pikada: From police abuse to the Buckingham Palace

How does a young man, in spite of being orphaned at a young age, manage to deal with non-stop contributing to the community? How does he manage to rise above being beaten by police to become a role model for the whole community?

By Hila Nagar, YNet, May 5, 2015

On May 19, an Israeli delegation will fly to London to meet the British royal family as part of the "Israeli Youth Leadership" project. Barring anything unexpected, a member of the delegation will Damas Pikada.

If that name sounds familiar, it's because Pikada was the soldier who was a victim of police abuse two weeks ago. The incident was caught by security cameras, and the video served as the catalyst for the many large protests that broke out this week against police violence and racism, led by Ethiopian Israelis .

Pikada's story is far from being common. This is a young man who, despite his difficult background and unfavorable starting conditions, having lost both his parents, has engaged almost from the day of his arrival in Israel seven years ago in contributing to the community as a volunteer. He has won numerous awards for his volunteer activities, including the Ilan Ramon Prize, and most recently, the Israeli Youth Leadership Prize. As mentioned, he and the other youths chosen for the award are due to travel to Buckingham Palace next week to dine with Prince Edward, who is the global patron of the project.

"It feels great, I'm looking forward to taking part in the delegation to London," he said this week. "Everything I did as a volunteer, I would go back and do again. By giving you actually gain a lot; not a material terms, but in terms of your spiritual feeling, which is just as important. I didn't volunteer in order to receive an award; giving just makes me feel fulfilled."

The video captured by a random security camera showing Damas being beaten by two policemen caught his high school administrators and his friends by surprise. "Damas is a quality guy with good values," said YBA Torah U'Mada (To"M) administrator David Elbaum. "So it isn't in his nature to break the law."

The school's principal, David Deri, also described Damas as the guy who was first to volunteer for any activity and who stood out in his giving to others. "Damas came here when he was an orphan. [His father died in Ethiopia and] his mother died later from a serious illness. As a student Damas was always looking for opportunities to volunteer, contribute and offer help. When guests arrived at the school he was the first to approach and greet them, saying 'Welcome to our home - welcome to the To"M family.' His relationship with people is something special. His giving is endless, it's something you do not see every day. 

"We have a mentoring project for ninth graders in the dormitory - and it was clear that Damas would lead the other mentors. Damas also volunteered for the distribution of food to needy families, volunteered in a nursing home, in clubs for the Ethiopian community in Hadera, and the Civil Guard. He was even trained to use firearms by police. Damas also volunteered to help out in the dining room, and traveled to absorption centers to tell the children about YBA To"M and convince them that it is good place for them to go for high school."


Post Log:

On April 27 Damas was riding his bike on the way home from his army base when he came upon a policeman stopping traffic on the street. Damas' account of what happened next:

"He was talking on his cellphone, and I waited for him to finish his call before asking him what was going on. He just said 'Turn around,' and as you can see in the video, he suddenly began to attack me. I spoke to him with respect, and he simply decided to raise his hand against me and do whatever he felt like with me. I had no idea that he would lash out at me that way. While he was hitting me I was in shock. I didn't understand why he was beating on me. I was in IDF uniform, serving my country. The policemen then tried to put me in handcuffs. I fought back to prevent them from getting the cuffs on, because I was afraid that if I was handcuffed there would be no way for me to defend myself and I would get badly beaten."

The video, which was prominently featured in the evening news reports on the three Israeli TV channels, led to Israel's Chief of Police, Yohanan Danino (himself a graduate of YBA Or Etzion) immediately firing the police officer who attacked Damas. But despite the dismissal, the video sparked fierce anti-police and anti-racism protests in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and other locations, with many more Ethiopian youths coming forward to complain about unjustified police violence against them.

"I never imagined that there was so much police violence against Ethiopian youth." said Damas. "It was a miracle that it was all captured by the security camera. No one would have believed me if I claimed that the policeman attacked me unprovoked. Hashem was watching over me."

Damas continues to visit YBA To"M on free weekends, where he is like a big brother to the students and a positive role model. "To"M is my second home," he says, "I know that I can always come here if I need anything."




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."

3 YBA Grads Received the President's IDF Citation for Excellence on Yom Ha'atzmaut

Lt. Daniela Hangal
Lt. Daniela Hangal, graduate of UBA Tzfira

Lt. Daniela Hangal (22), a graduate of UBA Tzfira at Moshav Tzafaria, was the third graduate of the YBA educational network to be awarded the IDF Citation for Excellence by President Reuven Rivlin in the Yom Haatzmaut ceremony this year.

The other two were Lt. Shaked Ben-Shoshan, a graduate of UBA Segula in Kiryat Motzkin and Cpl.Ori Cohen, a graduate of YBA Hadarom in Rehovot. 

Lt. Daniela Hangal has been serving in the IDF for the past three and a half years. She is a company commander in the IDF Home Front Command's Tabor Brigade - the army's emergency search and rescue unit.

"In twelfth grade, when the time came to choose between IDF service or non-military National Service, most of the girls chose National Service for religious reasons. But I always knew that I wanted to serve in the army,' said Daniela. "It was important to me to do something substantial in the army. I always imagined myself in uniform."

Substantial indeed! Lt. Daniela is the commanding officer of a combat unit made up of mainly male soldiers. "I trained these soldiers in boot camp and in their search and rescue course, and now I am their commander. I am like their Mother and Father. I have to worry about the personal problems of each of them, no matter how small. Still, I don't let my gender interfere with my duties. If any of my soldiers thought it was weird having a female company commander, they quickly learned that there is no difference at all."

Hangal's advice for other religious girls thinking about joining the army: "In the final analysis, if you have the motivation and drive to do something significant to contribute to Israel, and you love the Land of Israel, you can go far in the army. I think that I am living proof of that."

Lt. Shaked Ben-Shoshan, graduate of UBA Segula
UBA Segula graduate,
Lt. Shaked Ben-Shoshan
Another of the 120soldiers  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!


Cpl. Ori Cohen with his parents
Cpl. Ori Cohen, 20, from Rehovot, was also among the 120 Israeli soldiers to be honored for excellence at the annual Independence Day ceremony at the President's Residence on Yom Haatzmaut. 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."

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!



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

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.”

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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.