Israel education

Svetlana's Angels: UBA Arad makes a wedding

Moshe and Svetlana are both 26 and new immigrants from the former Soviet Union. They met each other in Beer Sheva and fell in love. Svetlana recently lost her mother to cancer and has no contact with her father. Moshe also lost all contact with both his parents after making Aliyah on his own. The couple wanted to marry, but had no resources to afford a traditional Jewish wedding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ron Alsheich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Religious students in Israel are less proficient in English than their Secular peers

English week at Ulpanat Bnei Akiva Neria
A recently released study of the educational systems in Israel revealed that religious-Zionist high school graduates in Israel were less prepared for university-level English than their secular peers.

The study, conducted by Ariel Finkelstein for the 'Ne'emanei Torah Va'Avodah' religious-Zionist movement, was based on a sampling of psychometric exams for college entrance from the years 2000 to 2012. The findings were conclusive: religious students consistently scored 11 and 15 points below secular students in English proficiency, while on par or better than their secular peers in every other subject.

YBA Educational Network
Director General Elchanan Glatt
"To some extent this is understandable, given the extra hours and emphasis on Jewish Studies in religious schools that doesn't exist in secular schools," said Elchanan Glatt, the Director General of the Yeshivot Bnei Akiva Educational Network in Israel, "still, these findings are worrisome for religious Zionist educators. Perhaps in the past some elements in the religious Zionist public saw the study of foreign languages as unimportant. But that worldview is no longer relevant. Today it is clear to everyone that speaking a foreign language fluently, especially English, is an essential part of a high-quality education."

Glatt pointed to two graduates of YBA high schools as personal examples: Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipy Hotovely and Minister of Education Naftali Bennett. "Today's generation sees YBA graduates in the Knesset, and eloquently presenting Israel's case in English in the international media, and they understand the importance of English. They know that English is the international language in computer sciences, medicine, physics and every other scientific field, including the social sciences such as sociology or history."

Glatt stressed that the YBA educational network was taking the findings seriously and working to close the gaps in English proficiency. YBA created a new position for a network-wide English Instruction Supervisor to advise schools on how they can improve. In-service training programs are being planned for English teachers, and measurable benchmark goals are being set for each school. "The process should take two years to fully implement before we will be able to see quantifiable results," he said. "The improvement won't come at the expense of our Jewish Studies program. We have enough hours for English lessons, we just have to invest in making those hours as effective and productive as possible."

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

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

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


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

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

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

Yeshivot Bnei Akiva: Training Israel's Future.

Who's the oldest gym teacher in Israel and why is he still teaching?

Yoram Ettinger
On September 1, Yoram Ettinger (70) will begin his 44th year teaching physical education at YBA Nachal Yitzchak, at Moshav Nechalim.

Ettinger led his first gym class at the boy's yeshiva high school in 1972, and still works out with his students in order to serve as a personal example of "a healthy soul in a healthy body."

"I have students whose grandfathers were my students!" Ettinger laughs. "I'm going to continue to teach and train with my students for as long as I'm able to - it gives me unbelievable energies."

YBA Nachal Yitzchak was established in 1955 as the fifth residential boy's yeshiva high school in the YBA educational network. In its heyday, the school served over 1,000 students. Today, 485 students attend the school in both residential and non-residential tracks.

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 Givat Shmuel ranked among the top schools in Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Six YBA students win academic scholarships

The Neve Sha’anan College in Haifa granted full academic scholarships toward earning a B.A. degree to six girls in the YBA network: Noa Attias, Sapir Amar and Sapir Simchi from UBA Or Akiva, and Chen Cohen, Tehila Maman and Tiferet Shimeon from UBA Meron.
Tehila Maman
Tiferet Shimeon
Chen Cohen













“We pride ourselves with giving each and every girl the attention and support she needs in order to bring out her full potential for excellence, with openness, dialogue and love,” said the Rosh Ulpana of UBA Or Akiva, Mrs. Bilha Bussi, in congratulating her students for their accomplishments.

UBA Meron was established in 1975 and serves over 315 students from the towns and settlements in the Galilee, while UBA Or Akiva was established 25 years later, in 2000, and serves today 111 students for the town of Or Akiva and the surrounding area.
 
View video of 2014 Elul activities at UBA Meron
 

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/




15 YBA schools included among the top schools in Israel

The Ministry of Education released last week its list of top ranking high schools in Israel. This is the third time that the ministry has used a ranking system featuring a variety of parameters to determine which schools are the leading "value-laden" schools in the country, rather than basing school ranking solely the percent of students matriculating for admittance to institutions of higher education. According to the ministry's ranking system, 15 of the top 261 high schools (6%) belong to the Yeshivot Bnei Akiva educational network in Israel.

YBA Director General,
Elchanan Glatt
 Elchanan Glatt, Director General of YBA, said in response to the publication of the new ranking, "We are proud of our faculty members, who invest in each and every student. These rankings show that education toward Torah values and excellence go hand in hand. We will continue in this path of value-laden education, because we are convinced that it is the right way."

The teachers in the top 261 schools were rewarded with salary bonuses raging from $750 to $2,000 based on their school's relative position on the list. 
 
The relative weighting of the various measures were adjusted this year, after critics of the new ranking system last year claimed that the weighting favored schools in the religious Zionist sector. Even after the adjustments, however, about 40% of the top 261 schools this year were from religious Zionist educational networks.


The ranking system measures applied to over a thousand high schools in Israel included:

  • individual instruction plans according to each student's abilities and disabilities
  • consistency of ongoing faculty involvement in the implementation of instruction plans
  • level of faculty in-service training for ongoing professional advancement
  • inclusion of special needs students in school framework and extent of mainstreaming
  • faculty interventions to reduce student drop-out rate
  • percentage of graduates serving in IDF and National Service
  • involvement of students in voluntary community service projects (Tikun Olam)
  • percentage of graduates achieving full matriculation certificates and average scores
  • level of studies offered in Humanities, Mathematics and the exact Sciences
  • maintaining a matriculation examination process free of irregularities
  • rate of improvement in all parameters over previous year's scores
The YBA (yeshiva) and UBA (ulpana) high schools making the top schools list are:
  1. YBA Kinor David, Ateret .........................(joined YBA in 2010; 120 students)
  2. YBA Beit Shmuel, Hadera ........................(established in 1962; 210 students)
  3. YBA Pirchei Aharon, Kiryat Shmuel .......(established in 1961; 317 students)
  4. YBA Lapid Torat Nachum, Modiin .........(established in 1998; 823 students)
  5. YBA Ra'anana, Ra'anana ..........................(established in 1960; 308 students)
  6. YBA Sussya, Sussya ..................................(established in 1998; 158 students)
  7. YBA Aderet, Bat Yam ...............................(established in 1970; 274 students)
  8. UBA Neot Avraham, Arad ........................(established in 1968; 163 students)
  9. UBA Orot Modiin, Modiin ........................(established in 1998; 713 students)
  10. UBA Segula, Kiryat Motzkin ......................(established in 1965; 529 students)
  11. UBA Neve Ruchama, Jerusalem ................(joined YBA in 2008; 288 students)
  12. UBA Or Akiva, Or Akiva ...........................(established in 2000, 111 students)
  13. UBA Reut, Petach Tikvah ...........................(joined YBA in 1984, 353 students)
  14. UBA Neria, Neria ........................................(established in 2004; 279 students)
  15. UBA Tzfira, Zafaria ....................................(established in 1967; 626 students)
  16. UBA Ramat Karniel, Kfar Pines ................(established in 1960; 458 students)
 

Rabbi Drukman speaks out against religious extremism and violence

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YBA Alumni Profiles: Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, founder, "Shurat HaDin" Israel Law Center

Nitsana Darshan-Leiter
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, a graduate of  Ulpanat Bnei Akiva Yeshurun in Petach Tikvah, is an Israeli attorney and human rights activist. The organization she founded - Shurat HaDin - the Israel Law Center, whose lawsuits on behalf of terror victims against terrorist groups, their leaders and financial patrons, has earned her the Moskowitz Family Foundation "Oz Tzion" Prize, and being named by the Jerusalem Post as one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world.

"I remember my years at the Ulpana as happy times. I still stay in touch with some of my friends from high school to this day," said Darshan-Leitner in a recent interview. "In the Ulpana I learned values of leadership, social justice, and fortitude in the face of hardship, which I put into practice today in my professional work. I think that the nerve I have today to take on precedent-setting cases stems from my time at the Ulpana. At the time I wanted to become a doctor, but apparently the drive for seeking justice, and the oratory and debating skills I developed in high school led me to the Law profession instead."

The Israel Law Center has won judgements valued at over $1 billion against numerous banks financial institutions and countries for aiding and abetting Islamic and Arab groups engaged in terror attacks, and over $120 million in payments to victims of terror attacks. 

Ulpanat Bnei Akiva Yeshurun in Petach Tikvah
UBA Yeshurun joined the YBA educational network in 1978 and is the largest high school for girls in the network today with 1,300 students. 

View interview of Nitsana Darshan-Leiter in English on i24 News

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."

BACK TO THE BEIT MIDRASH

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

By Moshe Glanz, ARUTZ SHEVA NEWS (translation)

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

Not like Math and English

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

What was the method of study before the change?

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

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

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

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

Does not contradict matriculation

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

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

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

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

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


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