Land of Israel

Sometimes Leadership is Thrust Upon Us

Racheli Frenkel is not your typical national leader. Usually, a leader develops gradually, gaining in stature and prominence with the passage of time. But occasionally, seemingly ordinary people are thrust by extraordinary circumstances onto the national stage, to be universally recognized for their leadership qualities, despite their previous anonymity. Racheli Frenkel is such a leader.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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: 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."

Why You Should Vote Torah

The Vote Torah slate represents many of the most important organizations and institutions in the Modern Orthodox world today, including Yeshiva University, the Orthodox Union, the Rabbinical Council of America, Bnei Akiva, Amit, the Religious Zionists of America, Torah Mitzion and the National Council of Young Israel. These organizations partnered up to run under the a banner championing Zionist and Torah education worldwide, promoting aliyah to Israel, developing religious Zionist outreach and ensuring Jerusalem remains unified.

Read the entire article by Avi Strauss, The Commentator, April 29, 2015

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."

Yom Ha'atzmaut Dvar Torah by Rabbi Yehoshua Magnes, Yeshivat Merkaz Harav Kook

Rabbi Yehoshua Magnes teaches Talmud and Jewish Philosophy at Yeshivat Merkaz Harav Kook in Jerusalem. He and his wife founded the Ulpanit Bnei Aviva high school for girls in Tel Aviv in 1978 and headed the school until their retirement in 2014. To invite Rabbi Magnes to your congregation as a Scholar in Residence, contact Menachem Bar-Shalom or the AFYBA office.


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