religious Zionist

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."

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


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: 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

Harvey Krueger talks about why he supports YBA

Harvey Krueger will be receiving the Statesman Laureate Award at the 36th Annual AFYBA Scholarship and Tribute Gala on June 10th at Guastavino"s in NYC. Harvey is the Vice Chair of Barclays Capital, and a long-time supporter of YBA schools in Israel. Hear what he has to say about the YBA educational network in this one-minute video, and register for the Gala now!



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."

2 YBA teachers cited among the top 50 teachers in Israel

AFYBA is proud to announce that two YBA educators, Leah Segal and Zvi Perla, have been cited by the Ministry of Education as being among the top 50 teachers in Israel. Congratulations Leah and Zvi! We salute you for the great job you are doing TRAINING ISRAEL'S FUTURE.

Leah Segal
Leah Segal is a math teacher at YBA Kiryat Herzog, Bnei Brak. The school was founded in 1971 as the YBA network's first non-residential yeshiva high school to serve boys in the greater Tel Aviv metropolis who wished to benefit from the quality Torah and general education of YBA schools without having to live in a residential dormitory setting. The school serves over 600 students in grades 7-12 today, and has won many citations for excellence.
Zvi Perla


Zvi Perla is the 7th grade homeroom teacher at YBA Mateh Binyamin, Beit El. The school was established in 2004 to serve boys in the settlements of the Binyamin Regional Council, north of Jerusalem. The school serves 370 students in grades 7-12, and offers a residential option to students starting in the 9th grade.


YBA Alumni Profiles: Lt. Shaked Ben-Shoshan, UBA Segula, Kiryat Motzkin

UBA Segula graduate,
Lt. Shaked Ben-Shoshan
Last week, on Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's President Reuven Rivlin awarded the President's Citation for Excellence to 120 IDF soldiers chosen from among thousands of soldiers nominated for the honor by their commanding officers.

One of the 120 this year was Lt. Shaked Ben-Shoshan (22), from Kiryat Bialik and a graduate of Ulpanat Bnei Akiva Segula in Kiryat Motzkin.

Shaked serves in the physically challenging IDF Field Intelligence Unit.
IDF Field Intelligence soldiers in full field camouflage
"Our job is to sit on the border with Egypt and Jordan and collect intelligence from the field. It involves laying in the open for many hours at a time under the highest level of field camouflage, in order to gather the most accurate information possible to protect our borders," Shaked explained.

The IDF Spokesman's Office related that Shaked was chosen for the honor due to the long record of citations of excellence she has earned from her commanding officers throughout her army career. "I was surprised to be chosen," she said, "because most of the soldiers chosen had fought in last summer's Operation Protective Edge or for an exceptional act of bravery. I didn't participate in the operation, so I didn't expect to be chosen."

Kiryat Bialik Mayor Eli Dokorski called Shaked to congratulate her on being chosen and thanked her for the honor she brought to the city of Kiryat Bialik, saying that she was "an exemplary and significant product of religious Zionism, imbued with a sense of purpose and determination."

Shaked is in line to be promoted to the Deputy Commander of her unit in August. YBA and AFYBA salute you, Shaked!



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.

In Israel’s army, more officers now religious. What that means.


The percentage of officer cadets who are religious has grown 10-fold since the early 1990s. Among secular Israelis, that’s being met with a mix of respect, and concern.

By Christa Case Bryant, The Christian Science Monitor, April 17, 2015


In the early 1990s, ... Orthodox men accounted for 2.5 percent of graduates of infantry officer training courses; since then, it’s grown to more than 25 percent... In some combat units, they make up as much as 50 percent of new officers – roughly quadruple their share of Israel’s population. The upward trend, coupled with a parallel decline in the number of combat soldiers and officers coming from secular families, is dramatically changing the face of the IDF. Read entire article