Monday, September 29, 2014

Robert Sidi visits Shomron region YBA schools

Newly installed AFYBA Board Member, Robert Sidi, Esq., an immigration lawyer from the Upper West Side of Manhattan, spent a day during his recent trip to Israel on an orientation tour of YBA network schools. He was accompanied by Oz Ben-Shmuel, AFYBA's Director of Public Relations (and blogger of this YBA News Blog).
Robert Sidi and Rabbi Eli Eizman with YBA Ma'arav Shomron
new campus construction site in background
Robert toured five YBA high schools and one college in the Shomron region, The day began in Elkana, where Robert toured the Orot Israel College of Education campus, Ulpanat Hashomron and Yeshivat Ma'arav Shomron. The Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Eli Eizman took Robert on a tour of Elkana, including the site of his new yeshiva campus, now under construction.

Robert Sidi with Shuki Seth (L) and Rabbi Motti Hershkopf
at the newly opened UBA Shirat Hayam building
The tour continued to Ateret, the site of the YBA network's unique musical yeshiva, Yeshivat Kinor David, where Robert lunched with the school's Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Motti Hershkopf, and director, Shuki Seth. He viewed the school's promotional video and sat in on an impromptu jam session with on of the school's bands.

From there Robert continued to the YBA network's newest school, Ulpanat Shirat Hayam at Neve Tzuf, just five kilometers down the road. Shirat Hayam is a musical high school for girls modeled after the highly successful Kinor David for boys. The school opened in September with 80 girls in the ninth and tenth grades. All the students and faculty were exuberant with their new school facility, a totally remodeled British Mandate era police fortress.

The tour continued to the town of Neria to visit Ulpanat Neria and Hashmonaim to visit Yeshivat Ner Tamid, before concluding in Modiin, where the YBA nertwork has two more schools: Ulpanat Orot Modiin and Yeshivat Lapid Torat Nachum.

Yeshivat Hakotel to honor overseas students in the IDF

On Sunday, October 12, 2014, the first day of Chol Hamoed Sukkot, Yeshivat Hesder Hakotel, in Jerusalem's Old City, will hold a tribute dinner honoring long-time board member and supporter, Mr. Kurt Rothschild, and his wife, who recently made aliyah from Toronto, Ontario.

The yeshiva will also use the occasion to honor the many graduates from their Overseas Students Program, who stayed in Israel to voluntarily enlist in the IDF.

Yeshivat Hakotel Overseas Students Program
graduates in the IDF
Pictured at left (from L to R) are: Zach Cohn from Chicago, Alex Katz and Gavi Nelson from New York, and Mordi Grunseid.

The four Overseas Program graduates enlisted together into the IDF Artillery Corps in March 2014, and are pictured here at their training course graduation ceremony (tekes kumta)  held at the Artillery Corps Memorial in Zichron Yaakov.

The dinner will be held at 17:30 on the roof of Yeshivat Hakotel (covert: $75 p/p). For more information and reservations, contact Don Kates, 052-830-8293,

Sunday, September 21, 2014

IDF Chaplains convene at Yeshivat Hesder Shadmot Neria

Chief IDF Chaplain, Rabbi Rafi Peretz

A meeting was held last week of all chaplains serving in the IDF Central Command at the YBA-affiliated Yeshivat Hesder Shadmot Neria, at Moshav Shadmot Mechola in the Jordan Valley, to discuss the lessons learned from their experiences during Operation Protective Edge this summer.

In one of the joint sessions with students of the yeshiva who participated in the fighting in Gaza, the student-soldiers raised a number of concrete suggestions on how to improve the relationships between combat soldiers and IDF Chaplains during time of war.

Chief IDF Chaplain, Rabbi Rafi Peretz, a graduate of YBA Netiv Meir in Jerusalem, gave a Torah lecture to the yeshiva students, and used the opportunity to stress the immense power and fortitude of the Jewish nation, from the beginning of history until our generation. The strength and fortitude demonstrated by our soldiers and citizens under fire during Operation Protective Edge was yet another testimony to the heritage of strength that our people have always drawn from the Torah and our traditions.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Chief of Police visits YBA Or Etzion

Chief of Israel Police,
Yochanan Danino

Col. Eylon Hyman, Danino
and Rosh Yeshiva Micha Klatzhandler
Last week, YBA Or Etzion, in the northern Negev village of Merkaz Shapira, hosted Israeli Chief of Police Yochanan Danino. Danino, who graduated from YBA Or Etzion over 30 years ago, toured the yeshiva campus with today's Rosh Yeshiva Micha Klatzhandler and the Or Etzion Military Academy with the Academy's IDF commander, Col. Eylon Hyman.

Danino with Rabbi Drukman
Following the tour of the school's facilities, Police Chief Danino met with his former Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Haim Drukman, who today serves as Rosh Yeshiva to the Or Etzion Hesder Yeshiva and Rabbinical College (Kollel), and Chairman of Merkaz YBA.

In his lecture to the students of the yeshiva, Danino said that, "the four years that I spent at Or Etzion shaped my life and continue to influence me until today." He concluded by saying that he would like to see more graduates of the YBA high school yeshivot going for careers in the Israel Police Department.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Chicago event raises funds for Hesder student-soldiers

Rabbi Ronsky (seated left) being
introduced by Dr. Yigal Yahav
L to R: Donna Yahav, Natalie Sopinsky,
Elliot Robinson
On September 16th, YBA supporters Donna and Dr. Yigal Yahav opened their home in Skokie to approximately 150 members of the Chicago community in support of Hesder Yeshiva students. 

L to R: Sam Seleski, Don Kates,
Buzzy Schwartz
The cocktail reception featured Rabbi Avichai Ronsky, the former Chief IDF Chaplain (2006-2010) and Rosh Yeshiva of the Hesder yeshiva in Itamar, as well as three religious combat soldiers, Lt. Yossi Levi, Lt. Ami Yunger and Lt. Avi Bluth, who spoke about their personal experiences during this summer's Operation Protective Edge

Proceeds from the event went to benefit the Netzach Acheinu Scholarship Fund for helping religious soldiers finance their post-army education. Chicago community leaders and long-time AFYBA supporters Shael Bellows, Bernie Neuman, Yigal Yahav, Elliott Robinson and Shalom Menorah organized the event.

Rabbi Ronsky with Hillel Torah Day School 8th grade class
The following day Rabbi Ronsky and Lt. Yunger visited the Chicago area day schools Arie Crown Hebrew Day School, Hillel Torah Day school and the Skokie Yeshiva.​and spoke with the students and faculty. 

The curious students asked questions such as "Were you scared when you blew up the tunnels?" and "Did you get the letters that we sent the soldiers from camp?"

Thursday, September 18, 2014

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.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

AFYBA Rosh Hashana Appeal Letter, 5775

Dear AFYBA supporter,
Over 400 YBA Hesder Yeshiva soldiers fought in this summer’s Operation Protective Edge, as well as the hundreds of YBA alumni reservists, putting into practice one of the core values taught at all YBA schools – to serve the Nation of Israel and protect the Jewish State with conviction and pride.
At YBA schools we don’t measure success by scholastic achievement alone. We strive to help every student become the best person that he or she can be: a person who leads a value-driven life; a life dedicated to giving of one’s self to help repair the world. Just consider these few examples:
Aftamo Yosef arrived in Israel from Ethiopia with his parents in 1991 when he was five years old, as one of 13,000 Olim in Operation Solomon.
Aftamo Yosef
“The first few years were hard. At first, the Jewish Agency put us in a hotel in Arad that they used for an Absorption Center. Then we lived in a caravan camp in Beer Sheva. In 1993 my father found a job with the JNF and we settled in the Negev town of Ofakim. I remember that I desperately wanted to become an Israeli, even if my parents couldn’t help me to reach that goal.
At the end of 8th grade, I heard about a new yeshiva that would open in Ofakim in the fall, and I signed up. At Yeshivat Bnei Akiva Afikei Aretz I was one of six Ethiopians in in the first class of 30. It felt natural being there – I was no different than the other students. I became active in the Bnei Akiva youth movement and was even chosen to became a counselor. At the yeshiva I learned that whatever I do, I should go for it all the way; to dare to challenge myself; to set high goals and to work hard to achieve them. The Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Adi Falach, took special interest in the six of us and made sure we got tutoring when we needed it in order to complete our matriculation exams.
After graduating, I postponed enlisting in the IDF in order to join the YBA Mechina of the Northern Negev, in Kiryat Malachi. The Mechina helped me mature both physically and spiritually, and to develop leadership skills. I enlisted in the IDF Paratrooper Brigade and eventually graduated officer training school with the rank of Lieutenant.
While serving as an IDF officer, I came to realize that many of the soldiers in military prison were Ethiopian recruits who had little motivation to serve as soldiers. I personally made sure that the Ethiopian soldiers under my command would be proud of their heritage and to be serving in the IDF.
After I was discharged I founded “Tzeida Laderech” (Provisions for the Road), a program to empower Ethiopian teenagers and motivate them to do a substantial service in the IDF. We provide counseling and work to remove barriers so that they will succeed as combat soldiers in the IDF. Being a good soldier is the best stepping stone to becoming a good citizen.”
Lt. (res.) Aftamo Yosef was recently awarded the Moskowitz ‘Spirit of Zionism’ Award, recognizing his leadership role in ensuring the successful integration of the Ethiopian community into the fabric of Israeli society. He was called up for reserve duty at the start of Operation Protective Edge and led troops into combat in Gaza.
* * *
Noam Donda made Aliyah from Ukraine without her parents in 1997 through the Jewish Agency’s Naale Program, at the age of 16. Luckily, she landed at Ulpanat Bnei Akiva Neot Avraham in Arad.
Noam Donda
“I spent three of the happiest years of my life at the Ulpana in Arad.  These were three years of living as part a huge family, some 240 girls, with Rabbi Shmueli, the head of the Ulpana, as the father, and the Matron, Bluma, as the mother.
I grew up in the town of Saki, on the Crimean peninsula – a town with no organized Jewish community, no Jewish schools or Jewish social life.  My friends were local Ukrainians and it never crossed my mind that I would one day be studying in a religious boarding school in Israel.
My parents, both of whom are university-educated construction engineers, had a relative living in Israel and in 1995 the hot subject of discussion among Jews in Ukraine was the question of immigrating to Israel.  So, when I was 14, I came on a trip here with my father. This trip to Israel opened new horizons for me and my first thoughts of living in Israel began to develop.
In 1996 I managed to find the representative of the Naale Program and asked him a lot of questions.  In the end it was decided that I would go to a religious Zionist school, without my having a clue where on earth I would end up. That fall I arrived together with a group of girls at the Ulpana in Arad, on the edge of the desert. The extraordinary scenery around Arad, the amazing road down to the Dead Sea, and the hills and gullies of the desert were totally different from the landscape I grew up with in Ukraine – brown replaced green. 
The break from home was difficult. The other 15 girls came from different parts of Ukraine and I didn’t know any of them. But our counselor was very understanding and we were wrapped in a cocoon of caring – the amount of love that I was showered with was totally overwhelming. We were able to call home, send emails and write letters, but our time was mostly taken up with our intensive studies, field trips throughout Israel and the full social life that living in the dormitory involves.
After a year, when I went to visit my parents in Ukraine, I found that I really missed the Ulpana and couldn’t wait to get back again. I wasn’t used to this type of school, with its combination of fun activities and a top level educational challenge.  The open atmosphere, the warm-hearted people, and the genial and refreshing talks with the teachers and the head of the Ulpana left me with the feeling that these three years were both the most enjoyable and the most important in my life. My thanks go to the wonderful staff of the Ulpana – a place which for me is like a family in every respect.”
After graduation Noam served for two years in the National Service as the counselor of a new group of Naale girls at Neot Avraham. Today she is an Occupational Therapist living in Tel Aviv with her husband.
* * *
Haim Weisberg was eleven years old when he suffered through his parents’ very traumatic divorce. Due to his mother’s extreme hardship at the time, the court placed Haim in a group home in Afula until he was old enough to attend a residential high school. At the start of 9th grade, Haim transferred to Yeshivat Bnei Akiva Beit Shmuel in Hadera, and his life began to look up.
Rabbi Haim Weisberg
“By the time I got to high school, my record was so bad that no school wanted to take me. I had all kinds of behavioral issues because of my difficult childhood. I thank Hashem that Rabbi Elyashiv Hacohen, the Rosh Yeshiva of Beit Shmuel, agreed to give me a chance.
My arrival at the yeshiva was like landing on a pile of pillows. Rabbi Elyashiv took me under his wing and treated me like his own son. For the first few years my mother was barely functioning, so I more or less lived at the yeshiva full time, including weekends and vacations. In the homes of my teachers I witnessed a level of love and caring that I never knew in my own family.
I remember that before I came to the yeshiva no one believed that I would ever amount to anything. But I felt that Rabbi Elyashiv had faith in me, and that gave me faith in myself. I did everything I could to earn his praise, and for the first time in my life I began to study in earnest. I finished high school with full matriculation and was accepted to the prestigious Hesder Yeshiva in Yeruham – not out of pity, but because I had earned it!
I did my IDF service in the Chaplaincy Corps, and I was chosen by the Jewish Agency to go to the FSU for six months to teach and lead Jewish youth groups. After my discharge I went to the Hesder Yeshiva in Kiryat Shmona to study for rabbinic ordination. When I got engaged I asked Rabbi Elyashiv to officiate at my wedding. Even nine years after their divorce my parents still refused to speak to each other, so I asked Rabbi Elyashiv and his wife to walk me down the aisle in their place. It felt right to me because they really were my adoptive parents.
After I finished my ordination I enrolled in the training course for IDF Chaplains, and during that time I published a book on Hilchot Avelut (Laws of Mourning), which earned me the rabbinic equivalent of a doctorate degree.”
Major Haim Weisberg lives with his wife and four children in Kiryat Shmona, and has served as a commander in the IDF Chaplaincy for the past six years. As the Chief Chaplain for Yehuda and Shomron, he was actively involved in the search for Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel, who were kidnapped from Gush Etzion and found murdered near Hebron.
* * *
Elinor Fabian was raised in Givat Olga, a working-class neighborhood in Hadera, and came to Ulpanit Bnei Akiva Mevaseret Baruch in Hadera in 7th grade with a track record of poor grades due to undiagnosed learning disabilities.
Elinor Fabian
"In my first year at Mevaseret Baruch, a substitute teacher sent me to the office for disrupting the class. I knocked on the door of the Rosh Ulpana, Rabbi Danni Diner, and he asked me, ‘Elinor, what are you doing here?’ I was surprised that he knew my name! I told him that I was thrown out of class. I remember that he led me back to the classroom, took the teacher aside and said, ‘Listen, whatever happened doesn’t matter; you have to let her back into the class.’ In some way, I think that incident had a lasting effect on me. I said to myself, ‘This place is different; they aren’t going to abandon you here.  They’re going to keep you and fight for you here.’ I felt like I was worth something!
The school sent me for testing and I discovered that I had Dyslexia.  Soon after that, the school changed the way I was taught and tested to fit my special needs and my grades began to improve. In 10th grade, for the first time in my life, I was awarded a citation for excellence for the amount of progress I had made. I remember hearing my name announced and WOW! My heart skipped a beat! I was so proud that I framed the award, and I still have it hanging on the wall to this day.
That was the turning point of my life. From that day forward I felt like a different person. Really! I felt like I have someone who believes in me, and I began to believe that I could become whatever I wanted to be."
After graduation Elinor enlisted in the IDF and served for two years as a logistics officer with the Golani Brigade. Today, she is enjoying a successful career in marketing and public relations for a telecommunications company in Israel. She lives in Hadera with her husband and two children and volunteers in her free time as a motivational speaker.
* * *
In the summer of 2005 Gershon Ganz, then 16 years old, was one of 15 students at the YBA Sussya High School for Environmental Studies whose families were expelled from their homes in Gush Katif.
Gershon Ganz
“The months leading up to the disengagement at the end of ninth grade weren’t too bad. The real crisis began after the summer of the disengagement. My family was bounced from hotel to hotel, my parents couldn’t work, and there were tremendous pressures and chaos in the family. Each student from Gush Katif was assigned an advisor to help him get through the crisis.
I remember that I could barely concentrate on my studies that entire year because I felt so confused and anxious.  My family didn’t know from one week to the next where we would be. All our stuff was put into storage and we were living out of suitcases. Sussya really became a substitute for home that year. My teachers gave me private tutoring so I wouldn’t fall behind, and when winter came and I couldn’t get to my winter clothes, the school provided me with new clothes. They even gave me pocket money because my parents couldn’t afford to.
At the time, I took everything for granted. But now I realize how lucky I was to be at Sussya. I could never have made it through the Bagrut (matriculation) exams without the extra help and support I got there.”
After graduation Gershon enrolled in the Hesder Yeshiva in Otniel and served in the IDF Artillery Corps. He was called back to active service this summer to serve in Operation Protective Edge. He plans to begin studying for a degree in Social Work at Bar Ilan University in the fall, with the goal of living and working professionally in the southern region of Israel.
* * *
These are the true stories of five genuinely impressive individuals, whose lives were changed for the better because they had the good fortune of studying at one of the 73 schools in the YBA educational network. There are, without exaggeration, thousands of stories like them among the over 82,000 graduates of YBA schools who actively contribute to the building of Israel today, in virtually every field of Israeli society.
YBA’s open enrollment policy means that no student is ever turned away due to financial hardship in his or her family. Each year our schools provide tuition reductions to nearly half the students in the network – that’s over 10,000 needy students like Aftamo, Noam, Haim, Elinor and Gershon.
All this would not be possible without the support of thousands of donors like you, who care deeply about the future of Israel. We are counting on your support this year! Your gift to the AFYBA Scholarship Fund will enable our schools to continue providing the kind of value-laden education that leads each student to realize his or her maximum potential.
Please use the enclosed return envelope to make your contribution to the AFYBA Scholarship Fund today, or visit our secure donation page at
May this Rosh Hashana bring Hashem's blessings of health and happiness upon you and your family, and a year of peace and prosperity for all Am Yisrael.

Marvin Bienenfeld      Joel Schreiber               Arthur Alexander        Menachem Bar-Shalom
Chairman                    Vice Chairman              President                     Executive Director

P.S.        When making your pledge, keep in mind that your gift will not only ensure that students like Aftamo, Noam, Haim, Elinor and Gershon continue to receive the top-quality education that YBA schools have become famous for – it is an investment in Israel's future as well. So please, give generously!

What's the connection between YBA and Shmita?

Rosh Hashana this year (5775) marks the start of the Shmita year. The Torah commands us not to plant in the soil of the Land of Israel every seventh year - "Shabbat Haaretz."

This mitzvah created a dilemma for the early pioneers in Eretz Yisrael, whose livelihood depended on agriculture. Rabbi A.I. Hacohen Kook came to their aid by creating his famous "Heter Mechira" ruling, which gave the early pioneers a halachicly permissible way to continue tilling the soil during the Shmita year. The anti-Zionist Haredi community in Eretz Yisrael at that time refused to accept Rabbi Kook's ruling, and still today, will only buy Arab grown produce during the Shmita year.

Amir Dror-Fogelman
However, for the religious Zionist community in Israel today, it is still an important value to support Jewish agriculture in the Land of Israel. So in the past two Shmita cycles, the Otzar Haaretz organization has worked to provide Jewish grown produce in accordance with Halacha to the general public. Otzar Haaretz is endorsed by virtually all religious Zionist rabbis in Israel as the perfect halachic, ethical and Zionist solution to the Shmita conundrum.

This year Otzar Haaretz will be supplying fresh produce to over 120 stores across all of Israel. Amir Dror-Fogelman,the CEO of Otzar Haaretz and graduate of YBA Yad Avraham in Netanya says, "I believe that, b'ezrat Hashem, the extensive preparations we have invested in for the coming Shmita year will be successful, and that every Jew in Eretz Yisrael will be able to keep the mitzvah of Shmita in accordance with halacha. It is important to prove, first and foremost to ourselves, that we have the where with all and ability to serve the entire public on a national scale."


Sunday, September 14, 2014

21 YBA schools ranked among the top 208 in Israel

The Ministry of Education released last week its list of top ranking high schools in Israel. This is the second time that the ministry has used a more well-rounded ranking system, rather than basing school ranking solely the percent of students matriculating for admittance to institutions of higher education.
YBA Dirrctor General,
Rabbi Beni Nachtailer

According to the ministry's new ranking system, 21 of the the top 208 high schools (10%) belong to the Yeshivot Bnei Akiva educational network -- more than any other educational network in Israel.

Rabbi Beni Nachtailer, Director General of YBA, said in response to the publication of the new ranking, "This is a certificate of honor for our faculty members, who work day-in and day-out to make our schools the best possible. We are proud to be the industry leaders in value-laden education."

The ranking system measures over a thousand high schools in Israel according to a variety of parameters to determine which schools are the leading "value-laden" schools in the country.
These include:

  • 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, Mathmetics and the exact Sciences
  • maintaining a matriculation examination process free of irregularities
  • rate of improvement in all parameters over previous year's scores
The teaching faculty of the top 208 schools were rewarded with salary bonuses raging from $860 to $2,300 based on their school's relative position on the list. 

Critics of the new ranking system claim that the relative weighting of the various measures favor schools in the religious Zionist sector and that the faculty bonus money would better be spent in investing in the schools at the bottom of the national ranking list.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Introducing YBA's newest school: Ulpanat Shirat Hayam

"It is impossible to stop a creative soul from creating."
- Rabbi A.I. Hacohen Kook, 
Orot Hakodesh.

Opening Day at Ulpanat Bnei Akiva Shirat Hayam

The Yeshivot Bnei Akiva educational network in Israel opened its 74th school on September 1st, 2014: Ulpanat Shirat Hayam, in the Shomron town of Neve Tzuf (also known as Halamish).

The school is a musical high school for girls with creative souls, modeled after YBA's highly successful musical yeshiva high school for boys, YBA Kinor David, located just up the road, in the Shomron town of Ateret.

The school opened with 80 students in the 9th and 10th grades, and will expand one grade level a year in 2016 and 2017 to maximum capacity. The school will combine a traditional curriculum of Judaic Studies with intensive lessons in music and dance.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

AFYBA welcomes new office administrator, Yiscah Levinson

We welcome Yiscah Levinson to the AFYBA team as the new office administrator.

Yiscah earned a BA in Business Administration from the University of Miami, and has worked in various administrative and marketing capacities in the business world for over 15 years.

We look forward to working with Yiscah, and we are sure that she will bring her own personal touch and considerable professional abilities to the AFYBA office management. Yiscah can be contacted at

We wish Emma Lebowitz, our former Associate Director, much success in her future endeavors.

Monday, September 1, 2014

AFYBA Intitiates Scholar-in-Residence Program for U.S. Congregations

AFYBA is pleased to announce the initiation of the AFYBA Scholar-in-Residence Program

For the first time, AFYBA is offering congregations in the U.S. and Canada the opportunity to meet and learn with leading Torah scholars and educators in the Yeshivot Bnei Akiva educational network, who head some of Israel’s finest religious Zionist high schools.

Congregations may choose one of five distinguished Roshei Yeshivot and Ulpanot (see roster below) to invite to as a guest lecturer for a weekend during the coming year (5775). 

All of the rabbis are fluent in English, and each brings a unique perspective on the Jewish experience in both the Diaspora and Israel. They are all accomplished speakers who will certainly provide fresh insights into Torah, Halacha, Hashkafa and other topics of interest to modern Orthodox congregants.

Congregations can preview 3-5 minute sermons on the weekly Torah portion by the participating rabbis in English by visiting the Parshat Shavua section on the AFYBA website,

Congregations wishing to invite one of the distinguished rabbis to be a guest lecturer for a weekend should contact Menachem Bar-Shalom ( will make every effort to accommodate the date and lecturer chosen. 

Sponsorship of the hosting expenses will be worked out on a case by case basis, according to the resources and policies of each congregation.

AFYBA Scholar-in-Residence Roster, 5775 (2014-5)

Rabbi Asher Corsia
Rabbi Asher Corsia was born in Spain and grew up in Israel. He graduated from Himmelfarb High School in Jerusalem and served in the IDF Chaplaincy as a religious officer. He holds a B.A. in Jewish Studies and Social Work from Bar Ilan University and an M.A. in Education from Hebrew University. He is also a graduate of the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Corsia studied for rabbinical ordination at the Yeshivat Sha’alvim Kollel, and has served as a shaliach for World Bnei Akiva in Panama. He was the founding Rosh Yeshiva of YBA Torat Lapid Nachum in Modiin, and later founded Ulpanat Bnei Akiva Orot Modiin, where he continues to serve as Rosh Ulpana. Rabbi Corsia is also a visiting lecturer at a number of academic colleges in Israel.

Rabbi Yona Goodman
Rabbi Yona Goodman was born in New York and made Aliyah with his family as a teenager. He graduated high school from YBA Yavneh in Haifa, did the Hesder program and studied for rabbinic ordination at YBA Yeshivat Hesder Hagolan, and earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees in Jewish Education at the Hebrew University, where he is presently completing his doctorate.

Rabbi Goodman is a former secretary-general of the national Bnei Akiva Youth Movement in Israel, and for the past 20 years has taught Jewish Education and held various administrative positions at the YBA affiliated Orot Israel College of Education in Elkana. He is an accomplished lecturer and has spoken at communities and conferences in the United States, Canada, South Africa, England, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Belgium and Israel. For the last 15 years Rabbi Goodman has broadcast a five-minute weekly spot on education on Israeli National Radio, and for the last three years he has also broadcast a weekly Jewish parenting video on the Arutz Meir Internet TV station. In September 2014 he begins serving as the Director of Education at the YBA Educational Network in Israel. View videos...

Rabbi Yossi Kahana
Rabbi Yossi Kahana was born and raised in Jerusalem and attended high school at YBA Yad Avraham in Netanya. After graduation he enrolled in the Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavne Hesder program, and served as a tank commander in the IDF Armored Corps. He studied for rabbinic ordination and earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in Talmud at Bar Ilan University, where he is presently working on his doctorate.

From 1991 to 1994 Rabbi Kahana served as the World Bnei Akiva Youth Movement national shaliach in South Africa. After returning to Israel he became the principal of the Junior high school at Ulpanat Bnei Akiva Amana in Kfar Saba, and since 2006 he has served as the Rosh Ulpana at UBA Amana.

Rabbi Shlomo Kimche
Rabbi Shlomo Kimche was born in London, and made Aliyah with his family in 1969 to Haifa at the age of eight. He graduated high school from Yeshivat Sha’alvim, attended the Hesder program YBA Yeshivat Hakotel, and served during the first Lebanon War in the IDF Armored Corps. He studied for rabbinic ordination at Yeshivat Hesder Sha’alvim, where he ran the yeshiva’s program for overseas students, and also earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in Education from the Hebrew University.

From 1990 to 1993, Rabbi Kimche served as College Rabbi in Mount Scopus College in Melbourne, Australia – one of the largest Jewish Day Schools in the world, with 3,000 pupils. After returning to Israel he was appointed the Rabbi of the Orot Etzion School in Efrat and also became a pulpit rabbi in a local synagogue. Rabbi Kimche founded YBA Orot Yehuda in Efrat in 1997, where he has served as Rosh Yeshiva and Talmud teacher until today.

Rabbi Yehoshua Magnes
Rabbi Yehoshua Magnes was born in New York and made Aliyah with his family in the 1960s. He graduated high school from YBA Hadarom in Rehovot and studied for the rabbinate at Yeshivat Merkaz Harav, where he became a close disciple of the former Rosh Yeshiva and Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Avraham Shapira. After ten years serving as the rabbi of the Hapoel Hamizrahi community in Bnei Brak, he was called back by Rabbi Shapira to Merkaz Harav, where he has taught ever since.

Rabbi Magnes has authored four books of Torah commentary: Torat Haolah, Hama’araha Hagedola, Torat Yishi, and the soon-to-be-published Torat Shabbat Ha’aretz. He has also served as the Rabbi of Ulpanit Bnei Akiva Tel Aviv, which his wife, Rabbanit Yaffa Magnes, heads as the Rosh Ulpanit, since the school’s founding in 1978.