Sunday, May 31, 2015

Education Minister Naftali Bennett to students: "The key to success in any profession you choose is to deal with the future.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett Goes Back to School

bennett school
Naftali Bennett is the new Minister of Education, and as such, has decided to do some field work. On Thursday morning, he left his office and went to visit an actual classroom with real students at the Carol School in Petach Tikva. But he wasn’t a passive spectator. He rolled up his sleeves and actually taught a math class to 6th graders, which was titled ‘The Importance of Numbers in the Environment in Which We Live’.Walla News was there and gave the minister top grades.
As part of the lesson, Bennett, who made his personal fortune in high-tech, taught them how a smartphone works. The purpose of the lesson was to show them that math is not just numbers, but could be “the next Iron Dome for Israel”.
The school was chosen at random but the lesson was not. Bennett has declared one of his objectives to be the improvement of the study of mathematics in Israel, something which has been waning in recent years, a situation he refers to as a ‘strategic danger’.
He was received by the students with a choir singing Israeli songs and introduced himself as “the math teacher for the day, called Naftali”.
He opened the lesson by asking the students what machine they would like to build, and received a number of responses, including a time machine and a glider.  He asked them, “What is common to all inventions?”
The students answered, “Imagination, technology, computers.”
“Have you ever taken a picture and sent it by WhatsApp or iPhone?” Bennett asked, adding: “Today we will learn how an image moves from device to device.” After a little exercise Bennett explained to students pixels, megapixels, and other concepts involved in the process.”
After the tour, Bennett said to the students, “The success of your generation will determine the mathematics of Israel’s success. Our challenge is to make you love the profession of science and mathematics, and to understand that the key to success in any profession you choose is to deal with the future.”

Harvey Krueger talks about why he supports YBA

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

Thursday, May 28, 2015


Jessica Abo, a popular TV personality in the New York area, will be the emcee at the 36th Annual AFYBA Scholarship and Tribute Gala on June 10th at Guastavino"s in NYC. Hear what she has to say about the YBA educational network in this one-minute video, and register for the Gala now!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New Halachic ruling: Married men should wear a wedding ring!

Rabbi David Stav
Rabbi David Stav, the Chief Rabbi of Shoham, Chairman of the Tzohar Rabbinic Council in Israel and a graduate of YBA Kfar Haroeh, recently published a new Halachic ruling that mandates married men who study or work in mixed company with women to wear a wedding ring.

In Rabbi Stav's ruling, which appears in the 35th annual edition of the Tzomet Institute's Techumin journal of contemporary Halacha, he writes: "In certain communities there is no interest in adopting the tradition of men wearing wedding rings because it is regarded as unnecessary. However, among those married men who work or study in settings where men and women mix, it is fitting and proper for men to adopt the tradition of wearing a wedding ring, to be a reminder to them and to all those around them of their commitment to their wives, and to prevent misunderstandings or embarrassing situations."

Rabbi Stav adds that if a wife requests that her husband wear a ring, it is certainly appropriate that he should agree to her request willingly and happily.

Rabbi Stav quotes Rabbi Meir Mazuz as a source for his ruling. who surmised that the tradition of men wearing wedding rings has a rational purpose, "as an inscription on your heart and on your arm, so as not to turn your attention to another woman." Rabbi Stav also asserted that his own father gave him a wedding ring to wear on his wedding day.

This is an example of the creative and ground-breaking Halachic rulings that Rabbi Stav has earned his reputation upon over the years. A year ago, he was nominated for the position of Chief Rabbi of Israel, but lost the appointment to Rabbi David Lau, who was considered more acceptable to the Haredi members of the selection committee. Rabbi Stav was recently chosen by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin as his successor to the position of Chancellor of Ohr Torah Educational Institutions in Israel.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Yom Yerushalayim in Jerusalem, Sunday, May 17

Thousands of YBA students participate in the Yom Yerushalayim flag parade
each year
Yom Yerushalayim marks the day during the 1967 Six Day War when the IDF reunited the city.

View 4-minute video on Jerusalem history.

Monday, May 11, 2015

YBA Alumni Profiles: Damas Pikada, YBA Torah U'Mada (To"M)

Damas Pikada: From police abuse to the Buckingham Palace

How does a young man, in spite of being orphaned at a young age, manage to deal with non-stop contributing to the community? How does he manage to rise above being beaten by police to become a role model for the whole community?

By Hila Nagar, YNet, May 5, 2015

On May 19, an Israeli delegation will fly to London to meet the British royal family as part of the "Israeli Youth Leadership" project. Barring anything unexpected, a member of the delegation will Damas Pikada.

If that name sounds familiar, it's because Pikada was the soldier who was a victim of police abuse two weeks ago. The incident was caught by security cameras, and the video served as the catalyst for the many large protests that broke out this week against police violence and racism, led by Ethiopian Israelis .

Pikada's story is far from being common. This is a young man who, despite his difficult background and unfavorable starting conditions, having lost both his parents, has engaged almost from the day of his arrival in Israel seven years ago in contributing to the community as a volunteer. He has won numerous awards for his volunteer activities, including the Ilan Ramon Prize, and most recently, the Israeli Youth Leadership Prize. As mentioned, he and the other youths chosen for the award are due to travel to Buckingham Palace next week to dine with Prince Edward, who is the global patron of the project.

"It feels great, I'm looking forward to taking part in the delegation to London," he said this week. "Everything I did as a volunteer, I would go back and do again. By giving you actually gain a lot; not a material terms, but in terms of your spiritual feeling, which is just as important. I didn't volunteer in order to receive an award; giving just makes me feel fulfilled."

The video captured by a random security camera showing Damas being beaten by two policemen caught his high school administrators and his friends by surprise. "Damas is a quality guy with good values," said YBA Torah U'Mada (To"M) administrator David Elbaum. "So it isn't in his nature to break the law."

The school's principal, David Deri, also described Damas as the guy who was first to volunteer for any activity and who stood out in his giving to others. "Damas came here when he was an orphan. [His father died in Ethiopia and] his mother died later from a serious illness. As a student Damas was always looking for opportunities to volunteer, contribute and offer help. When guests arrived at the school he was the first to approach and greet them, saying 'Welcome to our home - welcome to the To"M family.' His relationship with people is something special. His giving is endless, it's something you do not see every day. 

"We have a mentoring project for ninth graders in the dormitory - and it was clear that Damas would lead the other mentors. Damas also volunteered for the distribution of food to needy families, volunteered in a nursing home, in clubs for the Ethiopian community in Hadera, and the Civil Guard. He was even trained to use firearms by police. Damas also volunteered to help out in the dining room, and traveled to absorption centers to tell the children about YBA To"M and convince them that it is good place for them to go for high school."

Post Log:

On April 27 Damas was riding his bike on the way home from his army base when he came upon a policeman stopping traffic on the street. Damas' account of what happened next:

"He was talking on his cellphone, and I waited for him to finish his call before asking him what was going on. He just said 'Turn around,' and as you can see in the video, he suddenly began to attack me. I spoke to him with respect, and he simply decided to raise his hand against me and do whatever he felt like with me. I had no idea that he would lash out at me that way. While he was hitting me I was in shock. I didn't understand why he was beating on me. I was in IDF uniform, serving my country. The policemen then tried to put me in handcuffs. I fought back to prevent them from getting the cuffs on, because I was afraid that if I was handcuffed there would be no way for me to defend myself and I would get badly beaten."

The video, which was prominently featured in the evening news reports on the three Israeli TV channels, led to Israel's Chief of Police, Yohanan Danino (himself a graduate of YBA Or Etzion) immediately firing the police officer who attacked Damas. But despite the dismissal, the video sparked fierce anti-police and anti-racism protests in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and other locations, with many more Ethiopian youths coming forward to complain about unjustified police violence against them.

"I never imagined that there was so much police violence against Ethiopian youth." said Damas. "It was a miracle that it was all captured by the security camera. No one would have believed me if I claimed that the policeman attacked me unprovoked. Hashem was watching over me."

Damas continues to visit YBA To"M on free weekends, where he is like a big brother to the students and a positive role model. "To"M is my second home," he says, "I know that I can always come here if I need anything."

Sunday, May 10, 2015

UBA Neve Ruchama founder, Cissie Chalkowsky, to receive "Yakir Jerusalem" Award

Ulpanat Neve Ruchama founder,
Cissie Chalkowsky
On Yom Yerushalayim next week, Mayor Nir Barkat will award the Jerusalem Municipality's annual Yakir Yerushalayim Prize to Mrs. Cecilia (Cissie) Chalkowsky (78). As a veteran educator in Jerusalem, Cissie has brought many educational innovations and initiatives to the city, most prominently, the girls' high school, Ulpanat Neve Ruhama, which introduced new teaching methods for learning disabilities into Israeli education world.

Cissie was born in Chicago, Illinois and from the age of 15 was active in the religious Zionist Bnei Akiva youth movement. She immigrated to Israel in 1958 and studied sociology and education at the Hebrew University, and worked as the original dorm counselor at the first Ulpanat Bnei Akiva in Kfar Pines.

After graduating she established the religious studies track at the Beer Sheva Comprehensive High School, and later became the first dormitory director at Ulpanat "Horev" in Jerusalem. In 1983 she founded Ulpanat Neve Ruhama in Jerusalem, which became the address for teen girls who suffered from severe learning disabilities. Cissie ran the school until her retirement in 2011, and over the years the school earned the nickname "Ulpanat Cissie."

In 2008, in preparation for her retirement, Cissie asked the YBA educational network to take over the educational and financial management of the school, to assure that her life's work would continue to thrive. Today, UBA Neve Ruchama serves 266 girls in grades 7-12 from Jerusalem and the surrounding area. Since retiring Cissie has engaged in voluntary educational activities in the various sectors.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

YBA Alumni Profiles: Avraham Duvdevani - YBA Netiv Meir

WZO Chairman
Avraham Duvdevani
Avraham Duvdevani a graduate of YBA Netiv Meir in Jerusalem, has served as the Chairman of the World Zionist Organization since 2010. He is the first kipa sruga wearing religious Zionist leader to fill that position since the organization was founded by Theodor Herzl at the first Zionist Conference in Basil, Switzerland in 1897,

"Duvduv" was born and raised in Jerusalem and as a Paratrooper in the IDF, took part in the battles to reunify the divided city during the Six Day War. After receiving BA and MA degrees from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and serving as the Jewish Agency's emissary in France, Duvdevani was appointed the General Secretary of the World Bnei Akiva youth movement, a position he remained in for 15 years. He continued holding positions of leadership in the JNF, Jewish Agency and WZO throughout his career.

How do you define Zionism?

"Zionism is commitment - it is the feeling of responsibility that drives someone to forego his personal interests and contribute everything he can for the sake of the public interest."

What are the goals of the WZO today?

"Strengthening Jewish education in the Diaspora, particularly towards the Zionist values and teaching the Hebrew language. We also have to strengthen traditional Zionist values in Israel, such as tolerance, and social justice, so that Israel will become a light unto the nations. Finally, encouraging Aliyah. We have to convince Jews living a comfortable life in the Diaspora that Eretz Yisrael is their homeland and that living in Israel is a real possibility for them."

Are you optimistic about achieving those goals?

"As a religious Zionist, I see the founding of State of Israel as the first sign of our national redemption. But the full redemption won't come all by itself. We must help it along. If the nation of Israel remains steadfast in its quest to fulfill the Zionist mission and vision, I have no doubt that the full redemption will surely come."

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

3 YBA Grads Received the President's IDF Citation for Excellence on Yom Ha'atzmaut

Lt. Daniela Hangal
Lt. Daniela Hangal, graduate of UBA Tzfira

Lt. Daniela Hangal (22), a graduate of UBA Tzfira at Moshav Tzafaria, was the third graduate of the YBA educational network to be awarded the IDF Citation for Excellence by President Reuven Rivlin in the Yom Haatzmaut ceremony this year.

The other two were Lt. Shaked Ben-Shoshan, a graduate of UBA Segula in Kiryat Motzkin and Cpl.Ori Cohen, a graduate of YBA Hadarom in Rehovot. 

Lt. Daniela Hangal has been serving in the IDF for the past three and a half years. She is a company commander in the IDF Home Front Command's Tabor Brigade - the army's emergency search and rescue unit.

"In twelfth grade, when the time came to choose between IDF service or non-military National Service, most of the girls chose National Service for religious reasons. But I always knew that I wanted to serve in the army,' said Daniela. "It was important to me to do something substantial in the army. I always imagined myself in uniform."

Substantial indeed! Lt. Daniela is the commanding officer of a combat unit made up of mainly male soldiers. "I trained these soldiers in boot camp and in their search and rescue course, and now I am their commander. I am like their Mother and Father. I have to worry about the personal problems of each of them, no matter how small. Still, I don't let my gender interfere with my duties. If any of my soldiers thought it was weird having a female company commander, they quickly learned that there is no difference at all."

Hangal's advice for other religious girls thinking about joining the army: "In the final analysis, if you have the motivation and drive to do something significant to contribute to Israel, and you love the Land of Israel, you can go far in the army. I think that I am living proof of that."

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

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

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

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

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

Cpl. Ori Cohen with his parents
Cpl. Ori Cohen, 20, from Rehovot, was also among the 120 Israeli soldiers to be honored for excellence at the annual Independence Day ceremony at the President's Residence on Yom Haatzmaut. Cohen was born with cerebral palsy and fought hard to be accepted as a volunteer in the Israel Defense Forces.

For Cohen, the youngest son of Sigal and Yitzhak Cohen and brother to Mor, 27, and Shir, 24, reaching this moment was a struggle.

"This honor belongs above all to my friends in the army and to my commanders, who accept me as an equal," he said, "They don't make any assumptions, they simply listen and help me. I am very excited, of course. I was surprised to be receiving this honor, but it seems that my work was recognized by my superiors and they appreciate me, so I am happy."

Cohen serves as a network administrator at the computer support center in the GOC's C41 Corps. His job is to solve network problems. "I did not have prior knowledge, but I learned on the job," he said.

His parents take him to and from his base, where he gets around using a walker or a wheelchair.
"My parents' and my family's devotion pushed me forward, and this is the right opportunity to thank them," Cohen said.

"Another thing that helped me make the decision to serve and to contribute were my studies at the yeshiva of Rabbi Haim Drukman [the head of the YBA educational network and Bnei Akiva youth movement]. I am proud to be fulfilling not only my civic duty, but also my religious and national duties, as that is an important value in the Torah."

According to Cohen, his "minor disability" does not stop him from excelling at his work in the army. "I am not different, despite the wheelchair," he said. "I am a regular person in every way, and even in the moments when I am alone and I think about it, I do not feel different. I don't think about the difficulties for a even a minute.

"I came to the base every day, even during Operation Protective Edge, when there were sirens and rockets. I am very happy with my job, and lately, I have been thinking quite a bit about continuing to serve in the army [in the long term]. "It was important to me to join the army, since that is a value I was raised with. Everyone in my family served, and I knew that I too would be drafted, despite the situation."

"At both my high school yeshiva [YBA Hadarom, Rechovot] and army preparatory yeshiva [YBA Mechinat Kiryat Malachi], I was taught to love our country, and part of that means contributing and serving in the IDF. I taught the same thing to my groups during the two years that I was a Bnei Akiva youth leader. It wasn't easy, but I made my dream come true. I never had any doubt that I would be in the army."

Sunday, May 3, 2015

2 YBA teachers cited among the top 50 teachers in Israel

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

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

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