Wednesday, December 31, 2014

MInistry of Education recognizes YBA Givat Shmuel for academic excellence

YBA Givat Shmuel was recently awarded the Ministry of Education’s prize for Academic Excellence in the religious sector for 2014-5. The prize recognizes schools that have a steady track record of scholastic improvement in the past decade.

Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shraga Fruechter (right)
with YBA Givat Shmuel Robotics Club
The school’s Robotics Club is an example of this improvement. In the past three years it has won 1st prize and 3rd prize in the Ministry of Education’s national competition, co-sponsored by the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. Furthermore, 94% to 98% of the school’s graduates achieved full matriculation for entrance to university in the past five years consecutively.

“The yeshiva’s crowning glory is that we produce ‘Bnei Torah’," said Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shraga Fruechter. "We try to build their character with Torah values while at the same time helping them to achieve excellence in the sciences and other disciplines.”

The mayor of Givat Shmuel, Yossi Barudniadded, “The municipality has worked closely with the yeshiva in recent years to help the school serve the sons of our town and achieve its mission: to train a new generation of leaders, who love the Torah, their nation and their land.”

Yeshivot Bnei Akiva: Training Israel’s Future.TM

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Instilling Jewish values at YBA Hadarom

Rabbi Kook addressing YBA Hadarom students
as Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi David Twersky (seated) looks on. 
Last June three boys were kidnapped and killed by Hamas terrorists in Gush Etzion, The vicious murder of Gilad Shear, Naftali Frankel and Eyal Yifrah prompted the PA and IDF to crackdown on Hamas terrorists operating in the Hebron area, Hamas in Gaza responded by firing hundreds of missiles on cities and towns in southern Israel, and the IDF responded by launching Operation Protective Edge, which left 66 IDF soldiers and 5 Israeli civilians killed during 50 days of fighting.

Now, six months later, students of YBA Hadarom in Rehovot have begun a project to honor the memory of the three murdered boys, Gilad, Naftali and Eyal, by studying Torah.

“Jewish tradition teaches us that Torah study in memory of a soul elevates that soul in Olam Habah (the World Come)," explained Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi David Twersky at the opening ceremony, "So we are calling the project ‘Mishna l’neshama’ (Mishna for the Soul),The goal is for each student to learn two chapters of Mishna per week.”

The ceremony was attended by the grandparents of Gilad and Naftali, residents of Rehovot, and the Chief Rabbi of Rehovot, Rabbi Simcha Hacohen Kook, who praised the boys for taking responsibility for the Nation of Israel through the project.

Yeshivot Bnei Akiva - Training Israel's Future. TM

Monday, December 29, 2014

"For YBA, the Green Line doesn't exist," says Rabbi Beni Nachtailer at UBA Neria...

 Mateh Binyamin Mayor Avi Roeh, 
cutting the ribbon at UBA Neria
"For YBA, the Green Line doesn't exist." so said Rabbi Beni Nachtailer,Director General of the YBA Educational Network in Israel, at the dedication ceremony of new dormitory buildings at UBA Neria this month. "We are committed to opening schools wherever there is a need for quality religious Zionist education in the entire Land of Israel." 

That is the reason why the YBA network opened UBA Neria ten years ago in the Talmon block of settlements within the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council. In total, 14 of the network's 74 schools are located in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights.

The new dormitory buildings replace the aging caravans the school has used since its founding in 2004. The new buildings, while still temporary in nature, will provide a vastly improved quality of life for the school's 300 students until a permanent residential facility can be built.

Funding for the new structures was provided by the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council. Mayor Avi Roeh was joined by other public officials in formally opening the new facility.

UBA Neria is named after Rabbi Moshe Zvi Neria, z”l, the founder of the first YBA yeshiva high school in 1940, and spiritual mentor of the ‘Kipa Seruga’ generation, which has moved into leadership positions in the IDF and in all aspects of Israeli society in recent years.

YESHIVOT BNEI AKIVA - Training Israel’s Future.TM

Sunday, December 28, 2014

UBA Orot Modiin dedicates new auditorium/synagogue

The 600 girls of UBA Orot Modiin in the town of Modiin recently celebrated the opening of the remodeled auditorium/synagogue on their campus. 

The auditorium will now be called 'Heichal Moshe v’Esther' in memory of Rabbi Moshe and Esther Nachtailer z”l, whose legacy helped to complete the renovation. Rabbi Beni Nachtailer (no relation), the Director General of the YBA Educational Network and Rabbi Asher Corsia, the Rosh Ulpana welcomed the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi David Lau, the mayor of Modiin-Maccabim-Reut, Haim Beavas and other local officials at the dedication ceremony.

Like all YBA network schools, UBA Orot Modiin is very involved with the welfare of its local community. Hence, the students will share the synagogue on Shabbat and holidays with Congregation Menorat Avner, a neighborhood congregation named after Avner Goldman, am IAF helicopter pilot who was killing in the line of duty.

Yeshivot Bnei Akiva - Training Israel's Future. TM
UBA Orot Modiin Campus

Ha'aretz Op-Ed: Religious Zionists could offer a new approach to peace

"The general population of the religious-Zionist movement is involved in all political affairs. No significant field is foreign to it, and its members have become influential ­– and even leaders in many spheres. The spiritual spectrum among this population is much broader than many think." 

Ha'aretz: Religious Zionists could offer a new approach to peace

Impetus for the stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians could come from a surprising quarter: the religious-Zionist community.

Oct. 20, 2014

The knitted Kipa: symbol of religious Zionism
In the latter days of the Hebrew month of Elul, I had a dream that the members of the religious-Zionist movement will become the leaders of public discourse about peace. As with all dreams, it is impossible to explain it fully, and there is also no need to do so. But the deep longing within it can be strongly felt.
I do not necessarily mean that a political peace plan of whatever kind will be accepted by rabbis, leaders, educators and activists. I mean that the discussion about the attainment of peace with the Palestinians, and the rest of our neighbors, will become a key topic in the internal discourse, in education and in practical striving: Holding study days about it; devoting Bnei Akiva [youth movement] activities to it; emphasizing the topic in articles and on political platforms – all these will serve the goal.
While it is likely that peace is not practically attainable at present – because of the complicated and fluid situation in the Muslim and Arab world, among other things – people of faith never limit themselves to discussing only things that can be realized in the short term.
The belief that every human being was created in the divine image, and that war is justifiable only when it is necessary, has deep roots in our tradition. The possibility of living in peace with our neighbors seems vital from any Jewish perspective. It suffices for us to think about the spiritual and material potential that could be released for purposes of education, strengthening the link with our sources, and helping the weak. And this, too: Setting peace as a major goal in study and discussion will refine our emotions and behavior, not to mention the mental and moral liberation from dealing with the lives of others.
It is said that some of the bitterest wars are over religious beliefs. Indeed, we cannot ignore that tangible danger – even if the most aggressive leaders of the last century (Hitler, Stalin, Mao) operated in cultures that rejected religious belief. When various Islamic groups cynically and cruelly attempt to use religion to justify destruction and killing, we are obligated still more to separate our Hebrew faith, emphasize the sorrow bound up in the killing of others, and our right and duty to fight only out of the necessity for self-defense.
I am fully aware of the head-on collision between possible peace moves and loyalty to the country. I have no desire to rehash the old justifications here, such as the claim that saving lives requires that peace be made, on the one hand, and the fear of severe danger to security requires defensible borders, on the other. What is important to me is that the topic of political, current peace be at the center of awareness and debate in the religious framework. Every believing Jew reviews statements about the value of peace every single day, such as the statement, “Mighty One on high, dwelling in power, You are Peace and Your Name is Peace.” Many interpret the word “peace” as applying to relationships between people within our own nation. That has enormous importance as well, but we must view peace as a relevant value in our relations with neighboring peoples as well.
The general population of the religious-Zionist movement is involved in all political affairs. No significant field is foreign to it, and its members have become influential ­– and even leaders in many spheres. The spiritual spectrum among this population is much broader than many think. Topics such as artistic creation and media coverage have become extremely relevant to it, as has the work done by the small groups of religious people who move to a particular location to engage in social and volunteer activity.
Some religiously observant people routinely vote for parties that are not religious, while others search tirelessly for emotional and spiritual renewal within the religious framework. All these welcome developments pave the way for new ways of thinking, including about the terrible conflict between Israel and its neighbors.
Some will undoubtedly see my statements as cut off from reality, since, after all, the “crocheted skullcap crowd” are not open to new ways of thinking when it comes to peace. Others will say that true peace is not on the agenda at all, so we must build our country and not be drawn into useless debate. But it is precisely because of my binding and profound Jewish faith, and precisely because of the enormous caution we must exercise in all affairs of state, that I feel the need I have described here.
As long as the debate over the possibility of peace takes place mainly between various whole sectors within Israel, we are being drawn into extremism and quarrels, in any case. If the debate over peace becomes a major internal topic in the religious-Zionist community, too, we could see surprising results.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Learning in nature's classroom: Environmental Education at YBA schools

Ulpanat Bnei Akiva Neot Avraham, in the town of Arad, is set to become the first girl's high school in the YBA Network to provide a unique curriculum of environmental studies. 

The new curriculum of theoretical and experiential “learning in nature’s classroom” will be modeled after the highly successful program for boys at YBA Yeshiva High School for Environmental Studies – Sussya.

Arad is located just 30 minutes down the road from Sussya, which will allow the two schools to share faculty members who specialize in the subjects that make up the environmental curriculum, including Geography, Geology, Ecology, Biology and Botany.

"Experiential learning through interacting with nature has been shown to be very effective in teaching students with learning disabilities, especially ADD and ADHD," says Haim Bar-Hai, YBA Sussya's director. "The students retain what they have learned in the field much better than if they had learned it from a text book."

We are looking forward to seeing UBA Neot Avraham follow Sussya's lead in training young scholars who will become Israel's future leaders in Environmental and Land of Israel Studies.

YESHIVOT BNEI AKIVA - Training Israel’s Future.TM

Thursday, December 25, 2014

“A teacher teaches facts, an educator imparts values,” says Rabbi Beni Nachtailer at Awards for Excellence event…

The YBA network held a special in-service training and recognition day for secular studies teachers in the first week of December at UBA Amana in Kfar Saba. Hundreds of faculty members from the network’s 57 yeshiva and ulpana high schools came together for a day of enrichment and to honor one outstanding teacher in each subject of secular studies.

“We consider each of you not only a teacher, but an educator,” Rabbi Beni Nachtailer, the YBA network’s Director General, told the assembled faculty members. “We are gathered here to express our appreciation for the work you do to educate our students and to strengthen the Jewish values that YBA stands for – Love for the Torah, the Jewish people and Land of Israel.” 

YESHIVOT BNEI AKIVA - Training Israel’s Future.TM

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

YBA Ohel Shlomo student wins 13th annual ‘Dror QM Race’

It was a cold, cloudy day – perfect weather for a run through the Southern Hebron Hills. 1,100 runners of all ages – the largest showing of participants ever – limbered up in the village of Carmel before the 2 o’clock start time. 

Participants included students from YBA High School Yeshiva for Environmental Studies – Sussya and other YBA schools, IDF soldiers, and residents of all ages from the region's settlements. The quarter marathon (10km) race covers a mostly-uphill 10 km stretch of Highway 60, from Carmel to Sussya.

This year, the event was sponsored by Tene Omarim Ltd., the construction company building YBA Sussya’s four environmentally sustainable (‘green’) dormitories.

The record-breaking winning time of 37 minutes and 38 seconds was achieved by Vorko Ashato (16), a student from YBA Ohel Shlomo in Beer Sheva. In the junior category, the winner was Yochai Perel (7), the son of Sussya’s Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Noam Perel, who is currently on a leave of absence to serve as the Secretary General of the World Bnei Akiva youth movement.

The race is jointly sponsored each year by YBA Sussya and the Southern Hebron Hills Regional Council in memory of Col. Dror Weinberg, z"l, an IDF commander of the region who was killed in a terror ambush 13 years ago in Hebron. Weinberg is venerated as a local hero who embodied in his lifetime the values of religious Zionism - Love for the Land, the Torah and the Nation of Israel. As such, Dror Weinberg is regarded as a model of leadership for the boys at YBA Sussya to follow.

YBA: Training Israel's Future.TM

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

UBA Pisgat Zev, Jerusalem wins Integration Award

Rosh Ulpana, Rabbi Rafi Kuperstock,
receiving the award
The Ministry of Education awarded UBA Pisgat Zev its annual citation for excellence in social integration. The award recognizes schools that serve students from a wide spectrum of socioeconomic and ethnic populations, yet provide each and every student with all the support he or she needs to succeed academically.

The ulpana is located in Pisgat Zev, a working class neighborhood in Jerusalem. While 50% of the school’s 420 students receive tuition reductions due to financial hardship, 96% of its graduates earn full matriculation for entry into colleges and universities – the threshold to gainful employment and a more secure financial future.

“We accept girls who in the beginning of seventh grade don’t believe in themselves,” explains Rabbi Rafi Kuperstock, Rosh Ulpanat Pisgat Zev, “We guide their progress and development so that they eventually become highly motivated to succeed. They expand their horizons and invest much effort in their community volunteer activities, as well as their studies.”

Monday, December 22, 2014

Yeshivat Hesder Hakotel overseas students volunteer for Bnei Akiva in Israel

Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Baruch Weider ( center, bottom row), with the Yeshivat Hakotel Shabbat Irgun shlichim

Yona Budo
on Yeshivat Hakotel roof
Each year a group of Hesder students from Yeshivat Hakotel in Jerusalem’s Old City leaves the yeshiva's Beit Midrash for a long weekend to volunteer as counselors for the Bnei Akiva Youth Movement’s annual Shabbat Irgun. This year, the 30 Israeli students were joined by 15 American students from the yeshiva’s Overseas Students Program, for a uniquely memorable experience interacting with Israeli youngsters. 

The group decided to dedicate themselves to the challenge in order to pay honor to the memory of Staff Sgt. Evyatar Turgeman, an Israeli Hesder student at Yeshivat Hakotel who was killed in action during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge. Turgeman was an avid Bnei Akiva member and leader of the youth movement in his home town of Beit Shean, where he graduated from YBA Beit Shean.

Staff Sgt. Evyatar Turgeman, z"l
Veteran immigrant from the US, Yona Budo, had this to say about his friend and former chevruta (study partner) at Hakotel: "Evyatar was serious about everything he did. Already in our first year at Hakotel he knew what he expected from himself. He was straight as an arrow and very serious about learning Torah; something you don't see in many 18-year-old boys. We want to expose the Bnei Akiva kids to this weekend to the traits that Evatar personified - genuine integrity, and a clear conviction to holiness and serving Hashem."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Prof. Menachem Mautner: "Religious Zionism assumes a disproportional amount of responsibility for Israeli society."

Prof. Menachem Mautner
Professor Menachem Mautner, Professor of Law at the Tel Aviv University and one of the leading experts in law, culture and multiculturalism in Israel, recently lectured at an academic conference sponsored by Shaharit: Creating Common Cause, a think tank with the goal of presenting fresh thinking on Israeli society. Prof. Mautner has been a visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law SchoolNYU Law SchoolCardiff Law SchoolHarvard Law School; and Columbia University Law School.

This is what Prof. Mautner had to say about the religious Zionist population in Israel today:

“I the past few decades the religious Zionist population has undergone a metamorphosis. In the past, religious Zionism saw itself as the junior partner in the hegemony held by the mainstream secular Zionism in Israeli society. However, at some point the religious Zionist camp began to see itself in a totally different way. In recent years it has begun to prepare itself to take the lead of the cultural, political and social hegemony in the decades to come. This is a historic sea-change in the way religious Zionism sees its role in society.”

“Religious Zionists constitute a very important group, and we must take them into consideration and cooperate with them in defining the liberal values in Israeli society.”

“It is a quite a large group, and more importantly, it is a very strong group institution-wise. It has many Yeshivot and other institutions, and it is impossible to ignore its power. It is a very responsible group, which involves itself with the affairs of the state on all levels, as opposed to the Haredi population. In other words, it is a group that assumes a disproportional amount of responsibility for Israeli society. One just has to look at the number of combat officers in the IDF today to see this – the majority are from the religious Zionist camp.”

Thank you, Prof. Mautner for confirming that we are succeeding in our mission: 

Yeshivot Bnei Akiva - Training Israel's Future. TM

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

UBA Pisgat Zev wins Ministry of Education Integration Award

The Ministry of Education awarded UBA Pisgat Zev its annual citation for excellence in social integration. The award recognizes schools that serve students from a wide spectrum of socioeconomic and ethnic populations, yet provide each and every student with all the support he or she needs to succeed academically.

The ulpana is located in Pisgat Zev, a working class neighborhood in Jerusalem. While 50% of the school’s 420 students receive tuition reductions due to financial hardship, 96% of its graduates earn full matriculation for entry into colleges and universities – the threshold to gainful employment and a more secure financial future.

“We accept girls who in the beginning of seventh grade don’t believe in themselves,” explained the Rosh Ulpana, Rabbi Rafi Kuperstock, “We guide their progress and development so that they eventually become highly motivated to succeed. They expand their horizons and invest much effort in their community volunteer activities, as well as their studies.”

Friday, December 12, 2014

AFYBA supporters experience “Soul Doctor” musical

"It was a fantastic show!" said Arthur Alexander, President of AFYBA. 

Company of "Soul Doctor"
That was also the consensus among the other three dozen AFYBA guests regarding “Soul Doctor,” the off-Broadway musical at the Actors Temple Theater, this week. The 100-minute show flew by all too quickly, as the life of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach unfolded in stages, with the inclusion of dozens of Reb Shlomo's original "nigunim." 

Following the show the AFYBA guests, including new board member Shari Gluckstadt, took part in a sumptuous cocktail reception catered by Sara Rabbani Events.

New AFYBA board member Jeff Goldstein visits YBA schools

Jeffrey M. Goldstein, Esq., a lawyer from Teaneck, NJ, visited the YBA Yeshiva High School for Environmental Studies – Sussya and YBA Orot Yehuda in Efrat this week, as part of his orientation as a new board member of AFYBA.

Rabbi Kimche (L) and Jeff Goldstein
in a classroom under construction
YBA Orot Yehuda Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shlomo Kimche, took Jeff to visit the construction site of the school’s new campus in Efrat, which is scheduled to open in September 2015. He also toured the campus and unique “green” dormitories at YBA Sussya in the southern Hebron Hills region, led by the school's director, Haim Bar-Hai.

Jeff and Natalie at the top
of the Rudjum Fortress
Following the tour of the campus AFYBA Associate Director, Natalie Sopinsky, who lives in Sussya, took Jeff to climb the Rudjum Fortress, a short walk to the north of the school. The fortress was built in Hasmonean times (circa 200 BCE) and served as a Jewish stronghold during the Bar Kochba revolt against Rome. The site was excavated in 1994, and the yeshiva students are voluntarily preparing the site as a tourist attraction, paving stone pathways, installing benches, lighting, etc.

"My visit showed me how vital it is to support the YBA educational network,” Jeff said. “YBA schools are literally grooming the next generation of Jewish leaders for the state of Israel. Catching a glimpse of the learning going on at YBA Sussya and Orot Yehuda strengthened my confidence that the students are receiving an education that is above average, compared to the rest of the yeshiva world."

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

YBA announces $7.5 million capital campaign for 2015

The YBA Educational Network in Israel and AFYBA are ready to embark on a capital campaign totaling $7,500,000 during 2015 to mark the 75th anniversary of the first Bnei Akiva high school yeshiva - YBA Kfar Haroeh.

Future campus of YBA Orot Yehuda, Efrat
YBA Kfar Haroeh was established by Rabbi Moshe Zvi Neria zt"l, and Rabbi Avraham Zuckerman zt"l in the winter and spring of 1939-40, with only a handful of students. But the message of Torah Ve'Avoda that went forth from that pioneering school has spread far and wide, and the number of YBA schools has grown exponentially over the past 75 years to become Israel's leading educational network.

Rabbi Neria is generally credited with leading the Bnei Akiva "kipa sruga (knitted skullcap) revolution" that has transformed Israeli society over the decades, and his vision of Bnei Akiva yeshiva and ulpana high schools throughout Israel has largely been fulfilled. Today YBA serves 24,000 students in 74 schools from the Golan Heights to Eilat, and everywhere in between.

Future campus of YBA Ma'arav Hashomron, Elkana
To mark the 75th year since the founding of its first yeshiva high school, YBA intends to raise $7.5 million dollars during 2015 for capital projects throughout the network.

The first priority is to fund the construction of 3 new high school campuses serving the Jewish population of Judea and Samaria (Yesha). Ministry of Education funding is available only for the construction of classroom buildings. The construction of all the other components that turn a regular high school into a yeshiva or ulpana high school - Beit Midrash, dining hall, dormitory and gymnasium - must be financed by local and international fundraising.

Future campus of YBA Kinor David, Ateret
The capital campaign's secondary priority is the renovation and upgrading of dormitories, science labs and computer labs in YBA's veteran schools, Dedication opportunities for major gifts are many and varied.

For more information on dedication opportunities, contact Menachem Bar-Shalom at the AFYBA office.