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. 

Training Israel's Future: How to Save a Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Netanya Deputy Mayor: "YBA Yad Avraham brings great pride to the city."

YBA Yad Avraham student, Sagi Giat, receiving award
Sagi Giat is just 18 years old, but he has already invented a small gasoline engine that is 3% more energy efficient than motors in use today.

Sagi is a 12th grade student at YBA Yad Avraham in Netanya. Six months ago his Physics teacher, Dr. Mark Geller, recognizing his potential, encouraged Sagi to enter an international contest for 'Renewable Energy - Eco-friendly Transportation' co-sponsored by the Ministry of Infrastructure, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the Israel Center for Renewable Energy, a number of Israeli high-tech firms and the Eilat-Eilot Regional Council.

"I joined another Israeli and a student from Italy to form a team to compete with other teams in developing an original idea to be start-up ready," explained Sagi. "We chose to investigate applying advanced friction reduction technology to standard 2-stroke gasoline engines, commonly used in lawn mowers and electric generators. 20% of the gas used to fuel these engines is wasted on overcoming friction. We submitted a ground-breaking motor that reduced friction and increased efficiency by 3%."

Sagi's team was one of the four finalists to present their projects to a panel of distinguished judges at a renewable energy conference held in Eilat last January. In the end, Sagi's team was awarded second place, just behind a team of students from Serbia.

Dr. Geller proudly explained that "Sagi tinkered with the motor and succeeded in reducing friction significantly. His invention proved effective when used to generate electricity, but in the future this same technology may well be applied to increase the fuel efficiency of cars, trains and jet planes!"

Dr. Avital Laufer, Deputy Mayor in charge of the Education Portfolio said: "This is evidence of the very clear and praiseworthy trend toward academic excellence in the school. The students are led by great teachers; talented and dedicated to identifying the strengths of each of their students, and accompanying them with wisdom and love to reach exceptionally impressive achievements. The school brings great pride to the city of Netanya."

YBA Yad Avraham Beit Midrash
YBA Yad Avraham was founded in 1960 and serves 450 boys from Netanya and the surrounding area in grades 7-12.  The campus is located on a hill on the outskirts of Netanya, on an area of about 35 acres surrounded by lush greenery, giving a comfortable and pleasant atmosphere.

YBA Yad Avraham Beit Midrash interior view
Like all schools in the YBA educational network Training Israel's Future, YBA Yad Avraham combines values education, Jewish education and social education, with academic excellence in general and scientific subjects to help its students reach maturity as well-rounded individuals. There are special tracks for excellence in Talmud, Mathematics, Physics, and Biology, and a unique Pre-medicine track in which students study a variety of medical issues in cooperation with Laniado Hospital in Netanya.

YBA Yad Avraham believes that the role of every teacher is to be an educator – not only to teach the curriculum, but to provide each student with all the tools he will need to succeed in all walks of life.

Alumni Profile: Rabbi Kalman Meir Bar appointed Chief Rabbi of Netanya

Rabbi Kalman Meir Bar
Merkaz Yeshivot Bnei Akiva and AFYBA extend their hearty congratulations to Rabbi Kalman Meir Bar, a graduate of YBA Yad Avraham in Netanya, on his recent appointment to the position of Chief Rabbi of Netanya.

Rabbi Bar was born and raised in Tel Aviv, to a family of rabbinic and Hassidic heritage. He served in the IDF in the framework of Yeshivat Hesder Kerem B'Yavne, wher he has been a Ra"m (rabbi/teacher) since 1985.

He has also served as a rabbinic emissary (shaliah) as the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Yavne in Antwerp, the head of the girl's midrasha at Kibbutz Hafetz Haim, a lecturer at the Talpiot College of Education in Tel Aviv and a congregation rabbi. He is the author of Ma'asei Rokem, a book of Divrei Torah on the weekly Torah portion and the Jewish Holidays.

Rabbi Bar's appointment over the Haredi candidate for the position, Rabbi Haim Moshe Lau, son of former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, is widely seen as yet another manifestation of the continuing surge of religious Zionist leadership in all fields of daily life in Israel.