Thursday, October 30, 2014

IAF launches cadet training program at YBA Bar Yochai, Meron

Gen. Amir Eshel reviews the cadets upon arrival

The commander of the Israel Air Force, Gen. Amir Eshel, visited the campus of YBA Bar Yochai in the Galilee town of Meron in September to launch a new cadet trianing program, "Kanfei Shachar" (Wings of Dawn).

The program is a joint venture between the IAF and Merkaz Yeshivot Bnei Akiva meant to prepare a cadre of highly skilled recruits to man the  ground support crews for the IAF's fighter jet squadrons.

Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Yosef Tawil welcomes the general
as Rabbi Beni Nachtailer listens
The students chosen for the program will wear IAF uniforms and be considered military cadets in every respect. The program's curriculum will include advanced studies in electronics, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering,
Gen. Amir Eshel addressing the cadets in the Beit Midrash

First class of Kanfei Shachar cadets with honored guests
Rabbi Beni Nachtailer, the Director General of the Yeshivot Bnei Akiva educational network wished the cadets much success as they embark on a new course in their lives. "The way of religious Zionism demands that we should be involved in every aspect of Israeli society, always applying our eternal Jewish values in daily life."

Gen. Eshel told the cadets that he was proud of the unique collaboration between the IAF and the YBA educational network. "We are thirsty for the special qualities that the students of YBA schools will bring to the air force," he said. "The number of pilots is limited, but they need a large number of high quality soldiers as ground support staff to make sure they can carry out their missions successfully and return home safely."

Monday, October 27, 2014

YBA Tikvat Yaakov marks 60th anniversary with Torah Scroll dedication

Meir Nordlicht completing the final letter of a Torah Scroll
Two new Torah Scrolls were dedicated in a special celebratory luncheon at YBA Tikvat Yaakov,on October 19th, marking the 60th anniversary of the yeshiva high school. The Torah Scrolls were donated by the children of Jules and Barbara Nordlicht, in honor of their father's 80th birthday.

YBA Tikvat Yaakov, located at Moshav Sde Yaakov in the Jezzriel Valley, was established in 1954 as the fourth Bnei Akiva high school yeshiva in Israel.

Meir and Chaim Nordlicht dance with new Torah Scrolls
accompanied by YBA Chairman, Rabbi Haim Drukman, 

The Jules and Barbara Nordlicht were among the first supporters of YBA Tikvat Yaakov, and the American Friends of YBA.

Their sons, Meir and Chaim Nordlicht and their wives continue the family tradition of support for YBA institutions in Israel, and by bringing their children to Israel for the dedication ceremony, they are educating yet another hold the YBA educational network in high esteem.

YBA Tikvat Yaakov students joyously dancing with the two new Torah Scrolls
before placing them in the Ark

From left: Chaim Nordlicht, Meir Nordlicht, Jules Nordlicht, Rabbi Yaakov Ackerman,
Rabbi Haim Drukman, Naftali Kandler, Rabbi Malachi Kofman, Rotem Haniya, Tzachi Saada

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

AFYBA Weekly Torah Portion: Parshat Noach - Rabbi Yossi Kahana

Rabbi Yossi Kahana is the Rosh Ulpana of UBA Amana in Kfar Saba, Israel. To invite Rabbi Kahana as a Scholar-in-Residence, contact AFYBA at

Yeshivat Hakotel honors its overseas program IDF soldiers and Chairman Kurt Rothschild

The first Tribute Dinner in the 47 year history of Yeshiva Hakotel​ took place during Chol Hamoed Sukkot, in a specially built Sukkah on the roof of the yeshiva, with a view of the ​Western Wall and the Temple Mount.

As the first event leading up to the yeshiva's 50th anniversary in 2017, Yeshivat Hakotel honored the 120 students from its Overseas Program who volunteered to enlist in the IDF through its Machal program over the past 11 years. Eighty of these young men have already made Aliyah.  

Yeshivat Hakotel not only has the most IDF soldiers from all the various yeshiva overseas students programs in Israel; it has more than all the other yeshivot combined! (See video)

Yeshivat Hakotel also honored the Chairman of its Board of Directors,  Mr. Kurt Rothschild, who made Aliyah with his wife Edith two years ago. Mr. Rothschild has been involved in the yeshiva since its inception in December 1967, and along with the Wohl family from London, was the person most responsible ​for the building of the yeshiva's permanent campus, which it occupies today.​
After the welcome by alumnus Yisrael Dov Meyer, Divrei Torah were ​given by Rosh Hayeshiva Harav Baruch Wieder and founding Rosh Yeshiva Harav Chaim Yeshayahu Hadary. The honored guest speaker was the Minister of Defense, Moshe "Bogie" Yaalon

The over 220 people in the Sukkah, which included soldiers, Israeli and overseas alumni, parents and friends, were also treated to listening to the beautiful voice of the Chief IDF Cantor, Shai Avramson.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Baruch Dayan Emet: Lt. Tamar Ariel (25), Graduate of UBA Even Shmuel

Israeli Killed in Nepal: IAF's First Female Religious Navigator

Lt. Tamar Ariel, 25, made history when she became a navigator in the IAF in 2012. Agam Luria, 23, and Nadav Shoham were also killed.
First Publish: 10/16/2014, 8:22 PM

Lt. Tamar Ariel z"l
Lt. Tamar Ariel z"l
IAF photo

An Israeli woman killed in the Anapurna Ridge avalanche in Nepal has been identified as Lt. Tamar Ariel, 25, of Masuot Yitzchak.

Ariel had made history in 2012 when she became the IAF's first religious female navigator. She had served in that capacity in the Ha'emek Squadron, based at Ramat David in the Galilee.

She was educated in religious Zionist institutions and completed the ulpana at Even Shmuel, near Kiryat Gat.

After her national service, she was summoned to be tested for eligibility to take part in the Pilots' Course. Four years later, she completed Course 165 in December of 2012 and took part in the graduation wearing the long skirt that is favored by religious Zionist female soldiers.

Earlier Thursday, the name of a second Israeli who was killed in the disasterwas published: Agam Luria, 23, of Kibbutz Yifat. Luria, a graduate of Haemek Hammaravi High School in Yifat, left behind his mother and two older brothers.

The identity of a third Israel who was killed in the avalanche was released Thursday evening: Nadav Shoham of Mitzpe Hoshaya in the Galilee.

Thirteen Israeli hikers are hospitalized at the military field hospital in Nepal following the disaster. Seven of them are very lightly injured and are expected to be released soon, and probably return to Israel. Six others will remain hospitalized and probably will be transferred to other hospitals.

All in all, 135 Israelis who are in Nepal have yet to contact their families but it is believed that most of them will do so in the coming hours.

AFYBA Weekly Torah Portion: Parshat Bereshit - Rabbi Shlomo Kimche

Rabbi Shlomo Kimche is the Rosh Yeshiva of YBA Orot Yehuda in Efrat, Israel. To invite Rabbi Kimche as a Scholar-in-Residence, contact AFYBA at

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

YBA Lapid Torat Nachum to host community-wide Tikun Leil Hoshana Rabba in Modiin

YBA Lapid Torat Nachum invited the entire population of Modiin to join them on Tuesday night, October 14, for a traditional all-night Torah learning marathon (Tikun) celebrating Hoshana Rabba - the last day of Sukkot before Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah.

The yeshiva lined up an allstar cast of Torah scholars to lecture during the all-night event, including (in order of appearance):

  • Rabbi Beni Nachtailer, Director General of the YBA Educational Network in Israel
  • Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan
  • MK Tzippy Hotovely, Deputy Minister of Transportation
  • Rabbi David Stav, Chief Rabbi of Shoham
  • Rabbi Shmuel Rosenblum, Rosh Yeshiva of YBA Lapid Torat Nachum, Modiin
  • MK Rabbi Shay Peron, Minister of Education
  • Rabbi David Lau, Chief Rabbi of Israel
  • Rabbi Haim Drukman, Chairman of the YBA Educational Network in Israel
  • Rabbi Yaakov Meidan, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hesder Har Etzion
  • Rabbi Dani Singles, Rosh Yeshiva of YBA Yeshivat Hesder Netzeret Elite
  • Mrs. Rachel Fraenkel
  • Rabbi Haim Baruch, Rosh Mechinat Atzmona
  • Rabbi Aryeh Handler, Rosh Yeshivat Hesder Ramla
  • Rabbi Elisha Vishlitski
  • Rabbi Yaakov Chikotai, Chief Rabbi of Modiin-Maccabim-Reut
  • Rabbi Eliyahu Alharir, Chief Rabbi of Modiin-Maccabim-Reut
  • Rabbi Asher Corsia, Rosh Ulpanat Bnei Akiva Oror Modiin

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

YBA Orot Yehuda hosts Simchat Beit HaShoeva in Efrat

Natalie Sopinsky (second from L) with the YBA Orot Yehuda
Event Committee members
On Saturday night, Oct 11th, YBA Orot Yehuda sponsored a Simchat Beit HaShoeva at the local community center in Efrat. 

The event featured a huge concert performance of the Gatt Brothers, who gained fame as the "Israeli Simon & Garfunkle" for their renditions of The Boxer and other 70"s classics on the Israel version of "The Voice." 

While they may sound like Simon & Garfunkle, the Gatt Brothers look NOTHING like Simon & Garfunkle, dressed in their traditional Hassidic garb. 

YBA Orot Yehuda Rosh Yeshiva,
Rabbi Shlomo Kimche
Following the Gatt Brothers performance the bandstand was taken over by the YBA Orot Yehuda band, and the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shomo Kimche took the microphone and invited everyone to stick around for dancing. 

There was a well-stocked sukkah by the entrance, with a looping photo montage of the yeshiva activities, and a short film showing the recent progress of the new building now under construction. The new campus is due to be completed by June 2015, and will have enough room to double the number of students in the school. 

YBA Orot Yehuda is widely praised as one of the best high schools in Israel for teen-aged Olim from North America, with a large percentage of English speaking students from Efrat, Gush Etzion, Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem. The school is a non-residential high school yeshiva, and the boys are bussed-in every day for the long day of learning (from 7:00 am until 6:00 pm). 

The committee responsible for planning the Simchat Beit HaShoeva was established by Natalie Sopinsky, Associate Director of AFYBA, and included the following mothers of current students: Elana Singer, Tiora Siman Tov,  Diana Rosenfelder, Leora Bejell, Chani Ugowitz, Tracy Zeit, and Eva Kesselman.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

YBA welcomes Rabbi Yona Goodman as its new Director of Education

Rabbi Yona Goodman was born in the United States and made Aliyah as a teenager. Until his appointment as the YBA Director of Education he served as the Director of the "Institute for Contemporary Faith Education" at the YBA-affiliated Orot College of education in Elkana.

Goodman studied in the YBA-affiliated Yeshivat Hagolan, in the Golan Heights and served in the Israeli army as a tank commander. He is a former director general of the national Bnei Akiva youth movement in Israel. 
In the last 15 years he has taught at the Orot College of Education: Tanach, Jewish education, and Informal Jewish education. Rabbi Goodman gives courses for the Israeli board of education to high school principals, high school supervisors and others about ways to enhance Jewish values in the lives of our children. 

In the last decade he has participated in many different national committees that checked or developed programs or policies in the Israeli school system. Among them: a committee that restructured the teacher training programs for religious teachers, a committee that wrote a four year plan for teaching Jewish philosophy (Machshevet Yisrael), a committee that checked the unique needs of education for girls, and a committee that proposed a broad program to make Jewish education more relevant to Israeli youth. He is a senior staff member in Mahut, which is a national center that specializes in helping schools or communities immediately after terror attacks. 

Goodman has a Masters degree in Jewish education and is now writing his doctorate dissertation at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He specializes in guiding teachers and parents whose teenage children have begun to deviate from the Jewish way of life. Goodman has initiated and participated in developing various national and regional programs for such youth. For the last eight years, he has broadcast a five-minute weekly spot on the subject of education on Israeli National Radio. 

In the last year he has also been broadcasting a weekly short video on Jewish parenting on Arutz Meir internet TV. He is a member of the board of directors of the international movement of Religious Zionist Kollels (Torah MiTzion).

In the last 15 years he has spoken at conferences for Jewish school directors and teachers in the United States, Canada, South Africa, England, Russia, Sweden, Holland, Norway and Israel. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Alumni Profile: Rabbi Haim Sabato, Novelist, Rosh Yeshiva

Rabbi Haim Sabato was born to a family of Aleppan descent in Cairo. In the 1950s, his family immigrated to Israel and lived in a transit camp in Kiryat Yovel, Jerusalem

He is a graduate of YBA Netiv Meir in Bayit Vegan and the Hesder  program at Yeshivat Hakotel, in Jerusalem's Old City, which combines yeshiva study with military service. His experiences during the Yom Kippur War, at the age of 21, led him to write Adjusting Sights

After the war, Sabato spent the next ew years at Yeshivat Mercaz Harav, the spiritual home of religious Zionism. After receiving rabbinical ordination, Sabato co-founded the yeshiva in Ma'aleh Adumim in 1977.

Sabato's lyrical writing, with sentences studded with phrases drawn from and referring to passages in the Bible and Talmud has won him comparison to a Nobel Prize Laureate S.I. Agnon.

Sabato was awarded the Sapir Prize for Literature in its inaugural year, as well as the Yitzhak Sadeh Prize, for his second work, Teum Kavanot (Adjusting Sights in the English translation), a moving account of the experiences of a soldier in the Yom Kippur War. The book has also been made into a film.

His third publication, KeAfapey Shachar (published in English as Dawning of the Day: A Jerusalem Tale), tells the story of Ezra Siman Tov, a religious Jerusalemite coming to terms with a changing world.
Sabato's latest work, Bo'ee HaRuach (published in English as From the Four Winds), describes his experiences as an "oleh chadash" (a new immigrant) in the Israeli "ma'abarot" - transit camps - of the 1950s.
[Based on Wikipedia]

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

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

Alumni Profile: Col.Ofer Winter, IDF Givati Brigade Commander

IDF Col. Ofer Winter
The commander of the IDF Givati Brigade, Col. Ofer Winter, inadvertently created a tempest in the Israeli press when he wrote a letter to his infantry soldiers on the eve of their entering combat in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge.

Col, Winter, is a graduate of the IDF military academy high school attached to YBA Or Etzion at Merkaz Shapira. He quoted traditional Jewish prayers in his letter meant to strengthen the spirit of his soldiers' before going into battle.

However, the religious Zionist tone of his words sparked anger among several secular journalists reporting on the war, who questioned the legitimacy of portraying the military operation as a religious war.

“Anyone who attacked me for the letter apparently has only seen weapons in pictures, was never in combat, and doesn't know what fighting spirit is,” he said and revealed that before going into action his custom was to recite the blessing with which the ancient Israelite priests would bless the army before it went to war.
“When a person is in a life-threatening situation he connects with his deepest internal truths, and when that happens, even the biggest atheist meets God,” he said, claiming that soldiers see so many miracles that “it is hard not to believe [in God]."
Read the Jerusalem Post article about Col Ofer Winter