Kfar Pines

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOT AND MODEST FASHION - Kosher or Oxymoron?

Sde Bar Fashion’s
Avitan, Cohen and Elbaz
(photo: Studio Nehora)
YBA Alumni Profiles: ‘Necessity is the Mother of Invention’ at the Mother of all Ulpanot, UBA Kfar Pines

There are those who will claim that designing fashionable frocks for religious women is somewhat akin to trying to prepare fine French cuisine while adhering to the laws of Kosher - it just can't be done. But there is a growing number of young religious designers who are making the restrictions of modesty increasingly irrelevant.

The Sde Bar Fashion brand has been popular among girls in the religious Zionist sector for almost five years now. The brand has its own retail store on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem and is available at a handful of fashion boutiques around the country. 

But its collection is mainly marketed through Tupperware-style fashion parties hosted by women in communities with large religious populations, or through direct orders from the brand’s Facebook page. Over 4,500 Friends on Facebook flood the company with requests to host sales parties all over the country, and with fashion questions on the latest styles and trends.

The brand was founded in 2010 by Ariella Avitan from Moshav Nir Galim near Ashdod, Adi Cohen from the settlement of Beit El and Shuli Elbaz, who lives in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. The three 24 year-old entrepreneurs have been girlfriends since they met in high school at UBA Ramat Karniel at Moshav Kfar Pines.  The school was the first residential Bnei Akiva Ulpana high school for girls, founded in 1960, and is considered the prototype “Mother of all Ulpanot” in Israel. Today the school continues to maintain its reputation as one of the finest schools in the country, serving over 450 girls from all parts of Israel in grades 9-12.

(photo: Studio Nehora)
"Usually secular designers don’t think about modesty," says Avitan. "I remember once the three of us went shopping before one holiday to buy a nice new outfit - but the fashion stores had nothing that would meet our requirements for modesty: cover the knees, elbows, not too exposed, or too tight. So we started to make clothes for ourselves with the school’s sewing machine in our free time. Very quickly we started selling outfits to the other girls at the Ulpana as well."

The Sde Bar collection is a romantic-rustic style that hits the spot for a large part of the young religious population in Israel. The outfits have been seen on Yifat, the religious graphic designer character on the “Srugim" TV series and on Anhal Shmueli (Shoshi), from the “Race to the Million" reality show. Pastel romantic dresses with lace lines sprouting from the cleavage, and a layered appearance of a jumper over a three quarter length shirt sleeve.

"Fashion is part of our culture, but while a religious style has already been defined in Israeli music, culture and film – I feel that there is no defined religious style in fashion," says Avitan. "At Sde Bar we are trying to create fashion that is influenced by our way of life. We produce one collection per season, but I'm always surprised to find that women in each sub-segment acquire the things that fit their particular style. For example, girls from religious kibbutzim choose other colors than girls from Ra’anana. Even the way they layer their clothing differs; our line appears as if we sewed the garments especially for them. In Nir Galim the women buy a lot of Aladdin-style baggy pants, something the women in Jerusalem will not buy. "

(photo: Studio Nehora)
Adi Cohen adds: “Today religious girls have created a fashion which consists of mixing styles. In our mothers’ generation girls had to wear one layer on top of another to be modest. There just was no supply of fashionable clothes for religious women. Our generation has rebelled against that - we want to wear something designed especially for us."

Although the three owners/designers define Sde Bar as a brand dedicated to the religious niche, they are also targeting secular women. The collection includes several items that would not be considered within the accepted bounds of modesty required by religious women; for example, sleeveless dresses with cleavage, or wide necklines.  "It’s difficult to produce a modest garment without compromises in the necklines and sleeves and be beautiful at the same time," says Shuli Elbaz. "As a brand, we have to produce a variety of garments to appeal to a wide audience of women. We bring a special kind of look; romantic, softer, more feminine."

Sde Bar Fashion will participate in this month’s "Pomp and Circumstance Dressed" Fashion Fair aimed at women of the religious community (March 11-13 at the Jerusalem International Convention Center, March 20-23 at the Wohl Auditorium at Bar Ilan University, and March 23-24 at the Kastera Shopping Center in Haifa).

Portions of this article were originally published in Hebrew on xnet.ynet.co.il.