talmud

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. 

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."

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.


Passover Interview with Rabbi Drukman - Part 3 of 3: Influencing Public Values

"Do everything you can to ensure the future of the people and the country."

Rabbi Haim Drukman established a generation and paved the way for the religious Zionist movement in many areas. Apart from the love of Torah and love of Israel, he has a great message here for today's youth

By Ariel Horowitz – Arutz Sheva, Small World Magazine, 12 Nissan 5775, 01/04/15 (Translation)


Influencing the values the public

YBA Chairman, Rabbi Haim Drukman
 In the rabbi’s study in Merkaz Shapira, tables and benches are arranged in orderly rows. It is a small sanctuary in the eyes of the few students who have been coming to study with Rabbi Drukman for many years at the house; to be taught Torat Eretz Yisrael by their teacher, the positive attitude to the State and the words of Rabbi Kook. 

It seems that in recent years the religious Zionist youth have strayed a little away from these things. The emphasis has shifted to the individual, the personal. Hasidism is gaining wide acceptance, and the path of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook is less dominant. "I agree that there is more of a trend toward the individual today, the personal, and therefore youth are searching for these aspects," says Rabbi Drukman, adjusting his glasses on his face, "[But] one should see himself as part of society – this is the truth, and the need to educate to what is true. We shouldn’t under-estimate the value of the individual, but we have to see the individual as part of the whole. The correct way is for each individual to figure out how he can best help to benefit the whole of society and build on that. It is like the relationship between the hand and the body: Isn’t it unthinkable that the hand should speak for itself, as separate from the body? A body without a hand is crippled, but the hand without the body is worthless. When a person considers only himself, it may easier, more pleasant, but the truth is that he is part of the society. The individual does not become lost as part of the society: the individual takes on its real value as part of the society."

Is it still possible to educate towards these values?

"I think so. I try to learn from my mentor, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, who reiterated dozens of times the main principles that were important to him, and little by little they sunk in. He did it on purpose. He understood that values have to sink in, to penetrate all the armor that person has. The values have remained the same values, and we still need to educate toward them, but we need to change the means of doing so because we cannot ignore the place that Individualism is gaining. An educator needs to talk to the place where his students are at. If he ignores this rule, his words will not be heard. It can be compared to an adult and a baby who both want to drink. You give a glass or an open bottle to the adult, but for a baby you make a small hole in the bottle for him to suck on, otherwise he might choke. The same holds true with students. We cannot speak in a language that would not be listened to; you have to figure out a way to present these values to the audience in front of you."

Once a week, Rabbi Drukman devotes an entire evening to the questions of first year students at his yeshiva, Yeshivat Hesder Or Etzion. For years he was the senior rabbi at the Association of Hesder Yeshivot. But despite the fact that new Hesder Yeshivot have opened everywhere, many teens today are preferring to enroll in pre-IDF Mechina (preparatory) programs. "The Hesder Yeshiva [track] is by far the best path," said Rabbi Drukman, "but I supported the establishment of the pre-IDF Mechina academies because not every youth is inclined to attend a Hesder Yeshiva, and a year of Mechina before being drafted will strengthen him very much. There were those who thought that the Mechina programs would hurt the Hesder Yeshivot, because they might attract some boys who are on the border and could also be appropriate for yeshiva. But I do not think this is the right attitude. We have to worry about all of them."

But a high school senior can say to himself: I will go to a Mechina, learn for a year, or a year and a half, get stronger and then serve for a full three-years in the army, like everyone else. What need is there for Hesder Yeshivot?

"The purpose of Hesder Yeshivot is not to strengthen the guys so that they can succeed in keeping their religious identity in the army. This is a very important goal, but it is the goal of the Mechina programs. The Mechina programs do not pretend to give rise to scholars. The role of the yeshiva is to train scholars. Those who go to the Hesder Yeshivot contribute to the security of the whole of Israel, its physical security and its spiritual security. Our mission is to grow scholars who also serve in the army. Can we accept a situation in which Torah sages will grow only from those who do not go to the army?"

But most Hesder Yeshiva graduates do not continue into the rabbinate.

"Our sages long ago taught us ‘A thousand students make one teacher.' In order to produce one exceptional scholar, we need to have a thousand students studying the Torah. Moreover, even those not involved in the rabbinate, but instead chose to go into other areas, still should be Torah scholars. Is there not a qualitative difference between those who learn Torah for one year and those who study diligently for a few years? I very much appreciate the Mechina academies and think they are doing a great thing, but you can’t come out a scholar after just one year in a preparatory program. There is a great need for Mechina programs, but there is an even greater need for more Torah scholars, and its the yeshiva's role to cultivate them. "

Turn away from evil, do good

It is doubtful that Rabbi Drukman imagined that his nomination as Israel Prize laureate would bring back an old and painful affair: the sexual harassment charges against the YBA Netiv Meir Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Zev Kopolovitz. A few days after his nomination, there were calls for the Minister of Education to revoke the award decision. A group of YBA Netiv Meir graduates sent a letter to the Minister of Education, which claimed that Rabbi Drukman knew of the criminal deeds of Kopolovitz - for which was sent to prison - but did not contact the police, allowed him to continue teaching in the institution and tried to cover up the story. "That's a false and fabricated story," thunders Rabbi Drukman, while sailing in his memory back to those days. "At the beginning of the affair I was told that he was retiring as head of the yeshiva because of health problems, and I regretted it. After a while he returned to his post, and I understood that his health condition had improved. Four years later, after I had become Chairman of Yeshivot Bnei Akiva, I heard rumors about what he had done, and on the same day I suspended him from his position. Truthfully, I did not know that I had to report it to the police. In those days, 12 years ago, these things were not as salient as they are today. It's not true that I knew and covered it up; that's a complete lie. I knew nothing. And when I learned of the rumors, I suspended him from his position immediately. Indeed, it was wrong that I didn’t report it to the police, and I regret that. "

How do you think the religious community should treat sexual harassment in the community? What about solutions such as the Takana Forum?

"Our public should treat sexual harassment like any other public: through the police. We must not, God forbid, ignore any such phenomenon or the need to deal with. I do not think that the religious community is any different from the general public in any way." 

Rabbi Drukman in his study
The conversation with Rabbi Drukman goes on and on. It is interrupted by phone calls from people wanting to wish the rabbi well for the holiday;  his loyal assistant brings the rabbi documents to sign, including updates on what's happening in the rabbi’s many areas of responsibility. Rabbi Drukman expertly juggles all these tasks; recalling a quote from an old book, and knows exactly where to quickly find the quote among the thousands of books that line the walls of the room.

You cannot ignore one of the largest endeavors of Rabbi Drukman, one in which he has been involved since ancient times: the Bnei Akiva youth movement. He was a member, and a leader in his youth. The movement has undergone major changes over the years - some would call them "extreme." Drukman has called them "positive strengthening". The rabbi is happy to address the subject and sets his eyes on the changes brought about by the Bnei Akiva movement in Israel: "Of course there is tremendous progress in Bnei Akiva compared to what it used to be. Naturally, since the Yeshivot Bnei Akiva educational network was founded, which built high schools and encouraged youth to study Torah, religious practice has been strengthening.

We always knew in the Bnei Akiva youth movement that we are part of the people of Israel. We understood that one cannot say 'I saved my soul,' but rather we should take care of all the people. We understood that our job is to educate, and the matter is progressing on an upward spiral. We understand the need for patience and forbearance, even today. You can’t be anxious. We have to understand that if you want to educate the people of Israel, it is necessary to be patient, and we must not think that everything happens quickly. So it is with education. Do not give up; believe in the big ideal and say, God willing, we come to it."


Towards the end, as if not enough words had already been spoken, I ask him what message he would like to deliver to today’s religious Zionist youth. Rabbi Drukman pauses a moment, thinking. "You must know that you are the future of Israel and the State of Israel," he says, "It is very important that you do everything you can to ensure the future of the people and the country. You should be filled with values and identify more and more with who you are, be role models in every way and try to ‘Love for the Sake of Heaven.' God asks us to love simple things: learning Torah, good behavior and speaking graciously to others. These constitute Love for the Sake of Heaven. You must always think about how you can bring heavenly love to people. Just as we see great progress in our people, we see also a thirst for True Judaism. You can help promote this process: the process of returning the nation to its natural roots. This our mission today.”

Go to AFYBA Website

Passover interview with Rabbi Drukman - Part 1 of 3: The 'Formerly Religious' Phenomenon

"Do everything you can to ensure the future of the people and the country."

Rabbi Haim Drukman established a generation and paved the way for the religious Zionist movement in many areas. Apart from the love of Torah and love of Israel, he has a great message here for today's youth

By Ariel Horowitz – Arutz Sheva, Small World Magazine, 12 Nissan 5775, 01/04/15 (Translation)

Rabbi Drukman at memorial service
for Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, zt"l
This year, as every year, Rabbi Haim Drukman visited the grave of his mentor, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Hacohen Kook, on the Mount of Olives on his yortzeit (the Fast of Esther). Thirty years have passed since that rainy day that Rabbi Zvi Yehuda was buried. "I think that his character is sorely missed today," said Rabbi Drukman with sad eyes, "In many situations, I feel that he is missing." How symbolic that three years ago, on his way back home from the Mount of Olives, the rabbi received notification of winning the Israel Prize.

"The real prize is the privilege to contribute to the nation, the state, the Israeli public," says Rabbi Drukman, "When there is official recognition of this enterprise, it certainly adds value."  Rabbi Drukman’s modest words actually allude to several enterprises: his establishment of Bnei Akiva yeshivas in Israel, his many years of work with the Association of Hesder Yeshivot and his position as head of the Israel government’s Conversion Authority. This last role put him in a severe – some would say explosive – conflict with the ultra-Orthodox Haredi world.

In his book-lined study at his home in Merkaz Shapira, a small religious community in the south, just a short walking distance from Yeshivat Bnei Akiva Or Etzion that he founded, Rabbi Drukman sits, learning and teaching, advising students and rabbis, in person and on the phone; Looking down from above is a painting of Rabbi Kook, whose name he mentions during our conversation over and over again. Just before Passover we came to his home to talk to him, to try to understand some of his teachings, and to hear his thoughts on religious Zionism, today's youth and Israeli society.

‘Taking off the hat’


When I ask Rabbi Drukman to recall the religious world that he experienced in his youth, he was not tempted to glorify the past and put down the present. As usual, he is full of gratitude for our situation today. "The situation in the days of my boyhood was far different from the case today. Like [the distance between] heaven and earth. I was once interviewed on a Channel One TV program, and the interviewer said, 'Israel is full of religious education, but it is also full of datlashim - formerly religious people!' I replied: 'Let your ears hear what your mouth is saying: There are also formerly religious people! Decades ago the majority were formerly religious people! You have to understand that just a few decades ago everyone was traveling in just one direction: the off-ramp leaving the path Torah and the Mitzvot.

Boys and girls finished the eighth grade in a religious school, and that was the end of all their connection to Judaism. They were drawn to the big ideas of that era: building the Land, pioneering, Socialism; and it seemed to them that these ideas had nothing to do with the Torah. We would say, 'so-and so has taken off his hat' – because in those days the boys would go with hats, berets, in public. Who ever dreamed that religious youth would go on the street wearing a kipa? How can anyone not see what a revolution took place? Today there is a world of tremendous religious Zionist Torah that is unprecedented! We have an entire population; we have institutions and youth movements. Look at how much value there is in [religious Zionist] education; how effective it is and how much it influences."   

Are ‘formerly religious’ people today leaving religion for the same reasons as before?

"I don’t think so. Today, it is usually the religiously weak youth, those without a strong religious background; boys who went with a kipa but without any commitment to religious Zionist values. If there are internal values, you can stand up to all kinds of crises and difficulties, exposure to other influences and peer pressure. But if there are no values, a religious upbringing will not last. Some people are outraged when formerly religious people are referred to as 'captured babies’ [who never learned Torah]. They claim that that the formerly religious are people with great values who turned to another path after thoroughly investigating [religion]. But no one can convince me this is the reality. [In most cases] it is a weak youth who comes into contact with a particular social group, and finds it difficult to resist the peer pressure; so he allows himself to pulled along in order to fit in. What can you do? It is a sign of lack of character. It is important that we fill our students with substance and develop their character, [so they will have the backbone] to stand on their own."

Do you think that secularization is associated only through one’s encounter with another world, or can is be due to problems in the religious world itself?

"You cannot generalize. In most cases, it is about a weak character who could not cope with the reality around him, but there are also youths who were disappointed with the religious world, so they left. Rabbi Kook, of blessed memory, wrote long ago that people, by mistake, relate to Judaism through those who they see practicing it [rather than for what it really is]. Sometimes someone may encounter a rabbi that disappoints him, and because of it he projects that disappointment onto the values the rabbi seems to represent. One needs to make a distinction between a specific rabbi and whole of the religious world. It is the identification of Judaism with a specific individual that often creates the motivation to become secular."

Go to Part 2: Rabbis and Politics

Go to AFYBA Website

YBA Hashomron ranked No. 1 in Land of Israel Studies


YBA Hashomron campus in Karnei Shomron
YBA Hashomron in Karnei Shomron was awarded the Ministry of Education's 2015 Zeevi Prize for Excellence in Land of Israel Studies. The award is named for Rehavam Zeevi, a former general in the IDF, MK and Minister, and an avid enthusiast of Land of Israel studies. Zeevi was assassinated in 2001 by terrorists in Jerusalem.

Prof. Simcha Goldin, whose son, Lt. Hadar Goldin, fell in battle during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, delivered the keynote address at the ceremony that took placed at the Land of Israel Museum in Tel Aviv.

YBA Hashomron was founded over 30 years ago and now serves over 500 boys in grades 7 through 12 from Karnei Shomron and the other settlements in the area. The school has both residential and non-residential tracks, with the residential track utilizing the extra hours in the evening to put a greater emphasis on Talmud study. The school is very popular because of its warm and family-like atmosphere, and because of the many study options it offers its students. 84% of the graduates on average earn full matriculation certificates, and 90% enroll in Hesder Yeshivot or Mechina Programs before enlisting in the IDF.

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.

Remembering Rabbi Avraham Zuckerman, zt"l, co-founder and spiritual leader of the YBA network

Rabbi Avraham Zuckerman
On Sunday, November 11, a memorial service was held marking the first yartzheit of Rabbi Avraham Zuckerman, zt"l, co-founder and Rosh Yeshiva of the first Bnei Akiva yeshiva high school, YBA Kfar Haroeh,

Rabbi Zuckerman was born in Lithuania during WWI and left his home to study Torah at various Lithuanian yeshivot associated with the Musar movement at the tender age of 11. He arrived in Eretz Yisrael in 1936, and never left Israel after that.

Rabbi Zuckerman met Rabbi Moshe Zvi Neria, zt"l, while studying at the Beit Yosef Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, and soon after that joined the leadership of the fledgling Bnei Akiva religious Zionist youth movement.

In the winter of 1940, Rabbi Zuckerman joined Rabbi Neria in establishing the first Bnei Akiva high school yeshiva at Moshav Kfar Haroeh, and is credited with introducing the secondary curriculum of general studies to augmaent the traditional yeshiva Torah and Talmud studies, as a fulfillment of the mitzvah upon every father to teach his son a profession with which he will be able to make his livelihood.. Rabbi Zuckerman assumed the title of Rosh Yeshiva in 1995 with the passing of his close colleague, Rabbi Neria.

Rabbi Yona Goodman
Rabbi Yona Goodman, the YBA Director of Education, was a student of Rabbi Zuckerman at YBA Kfar Haroeh. "Rabbi Neria and Rabbi Zuckerman created the model for all modern yeshiva high schools that followed," he recalls. "The day starts out and ends with traditional Torah study in the Beit Midrash, with making room during the afternoon hours for practical general studies. But more importantly, they created a unique model that educated students toward the values of religious Zionism. We learned from them how Torah and building the Land of Israel go hand-in-hand."

"In every way, Rabbi Zuckerman transmitted the values of simplicity and humility. He taught us by personal example that Torah and humility occupy the same space, and that a man's greatness is judged by his character and not by his possessions."

"Rabbi Zuckerman originated a new educational philosophy that was very different from the norm of that time. He believed that the students are full partners with their rabbi-teachers in creating the yeshiva's educational environment. The yeshiva doesn't 'belong' the the faculty, but rather to the students themselves, who come to the yeshiva out of a genuine desire to learn Torah. This philosophy has been emulated and duplicated in hundreds of yeshivot, ulpanot and other educational institutions in the religious Zionist camp.

Rabbi Zuckerman passed away at the age of 97. He was survived by his wife and extended family, including 119 great-grandchildren, as well as tens of thousands of former students and their students.



Raising the bar: YBA Yagdil Torah Program inspires young Talmud scholars

Ben Landy (L) with YBA Chairman Rabbi Haim Drukman
and Yagdil Torah founder, Rabbi Dr. Yehuda Felix
For the past seven years thousands of boys have dedicated part of their leisure time to Talmud study, thanks to YBA's unique Yagdil Torah program.

The Yagdil Torah program is the brainchild of YBA's former Director of Education, Rabbi Dr. Yehuda Felix and its primary patron, Mr. Ben Landy. 

Students participating in the Yagdil Torah program commit to studying at least 50 pages of Talmud per year over and above their regular Jewish Studies curriculum. 

"Every generation of the Jewish people needs Torah Scholars," explains Mr. Lande, "The only way to produce first-class scholars is by starting to train them at a young age in mind-challenging study of the Talmud. I am happy to help provide incentives for these fine young minds to master the skills it takes to become true Talmidei Chachamim." 

In the past year approximately 500 students in 17 schools participated on the program and 170 successfully mastered the study material, achieving scores of 80% or better in the exams administered just before the summer vacation. In the recent ceremony presenting the students with their rewards, classic Jewish texts, Mr. Landy noted that the students collectively merited the study of over 10,000 pages of Talmud