Nestling high on the slopes of the hills of Naftali,
and overlooking Mount Hermon, the Hula Valley and the Golan Heights, the Rennert Beth Midrash at
Yeshivat Kiryat Shemonah serves as a unique, intensive study center for young men in the Hesder program,
who learn Torah under the experienced tutelage of our Rabbis and teachers, and serve in the Israeli Defense Forces,
most of them in the front-line military units.
The activities of
our students and educational staff extend to the entire city of Kiryat Shemonah and the Upper
Galilee, where Shiurim are offered to all sectors of the community, thus increasing Jewish
knowledge and love of Torah, both locally and regionally. Nurtured in the warm and open atmosphere of the Yeshivah,
these “Hesderniks” have become a generation of Talmidei Chachamim, well-versed in Jewish sources and inspired by the
writings of Rav Kook. Their positive contribution in every walk of life is felt all over Israel.
What is Hesder?
The Hesder track is a combination of Torah study
and military service, and lasts 5 years, compared to regular army service that lasts 3 years.
The framework is built in such a way that young, religious men, after high school, usually at
the age of 18 years old, can apply to one of the numerous Hesder Yeshivot in Israel and know
that they can spend a set period studying Torah and Jewish sources as intensively as they like,
prior to and after their obligatory army service. The aim of this is to develop these young men
spiritually thereby strengthening their roots to the land, enabling them to better serve their country,
Israel, and to protect the Jewish people in their homeland.
Why Kiryat Shemonah?
on the northern border in the "Galilee Panhandle", Kiryat Shemonah attracts a special type of
young man, who is looking for a personal challenge together with a high standard of learning. Most
importantly, he must be an idealist who is willing to take on extra responsibilities on a voluntary
basis in the local and regional community as part of his obligation as a participant in the Hesder
program. The Yeshivah prides itself in the number of social programs in which it is involved. These
include volunteer work at the local branch of the Enosh Mental Health Association, activities with
disabled children, one-on-one lessons with children suffering from learning disabilities, extracurricular
study sessions for adults and children, both in schools and elsewhere, lectures on Jewish topics in an
informal setting, preparation for Bar Mitzvah, organization of “Kaytanot” (day camps) for children in
conjunction with the local community center, distribution of food to underprivileged families for Shabbat,
anonymous funding of families and individuals in financial difficulties, assistance for other special
needs, Magen David Adom, civil defense, and others.
The Yeshivah – “Our Other Family”
The majority of our soldiers serve in the elite units of the Israeli
Defense Forces (Tzahal). When our students leave the Yeshivah temporarily in order to enlist in
the IDF, they sense they are leaving their second home. Although most of the soldiers serve in
the army for 1½ years, a few opt for the Officers track, at which point they leave the Hesder
program to complete 3 years, often more, of military service. However, the Yeshivah acts as a
magnet and they take every opportunity to drop in for a visit whenever they are on leave,
to "recharge their batteries" by sitting and learning, meeting up with their old
friends and study partners, and with the Rabbis – their teachers.
The Yeshivah follows
the progress of each one of the soldiers, and keeps constant contact with them throughout their
army service. Apart from receiving regular newsletters, which include Divrei Torah and updates
on what is happening at the Yeshivah and in Kiryat Shemonah, they are also provided with parcels
of food and goodies (very important, especially on guard duty in the cold and rain!)
Rabbis and older students make personal visits to the soldiers in army bases all over the country,
during basic training. The boys know that the Yeshivah is always there for them, wherever they
are posted, as they serve their country, standing on watch, keeping Am Yisrael safe.
As one of the most outstanding
students of Rabbi Zvi Yehudah Kook (the spiritual leader of religious Zionism), Rabbi
Tzfaniah Drori was called upon in 1968 to fulfil the task of instilling Torah into Kiryat
Shemonah, then a small development town on the northern border of Israel.
Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Shemonah and Dean of the Yeshivat Hesder, which he founded
in 1978, Rabbi Drori is renowned throughout Israel for his inclusive attitude towards all Jews,
regardless of religious or political affiliation. He has refused all entreaties to become a Member
of Knesset, a Cabinet Minister or the Chief Rabbi of a major city. His place is in Kiryat Shemonah.
His people are the Jews of the Northern Galilee who live in constant danger of enemy incursions
and Katyusha rocket attacks from over the border with Lebanon. Rabbi Drori oversees a network of
Torah classes and lectures that has been established throughout the entire Upper Galilee region
(including numerous secular kibbutzim and moshavim), encouraging a spirit of openness and dialogue,
which has had a significant impact on countless numbers of people. In addition, Rabbi Drori serves
as Dayan (judge) in the special rabbinical court for conversion. He is also Chairman of the board
of National Service (Sherut Leumi), an organization encompassing more than 4,000 religious girls
countrywide who spend two years doing voluntary work instead of army service.
Some 70% of our alumni are lawyers,
judges, engineers, computer and technology pros, accountants, architects, businessmen, bankers,
jewelry merchants, insurance agents... every facet of Israeli society, including a bus driver,
police officer, and members of the intelligence service. Our graduates are depicted above by a
former Hesder student of the Yeshivah, Shay Charka, well-known caricaturist.
ADDITIONAL OPTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY
The Yeshivah provides
the option for students to study for a Teachers' Training Course that offers Bachelor of Education
degrees. 30% of the graduates become rabbis, administrators and educators. Many of them use their
skills to contribute to society as summer camp counselors and teachers both in Israel and in the
former Soviet Union, Latin America, USA, Canada and Australia.
- Location - Northern Israel on border with Lebanon
- Established: 1978
- Students currently registered at the Yeshivah (2007) - 200
Avrechim (married students in 2007) - 20
- No. of graduates since 1st graduation class (1978) - 630
- Graduate families living permanently in Kiryat Shemonah - 32
- Annual intake of students - 50
Awards Received by
Rabbi Tzfaniah Drori
and Yeshivat Kiryat Shemonah:
- Minister Of Health Volunteer Award 2001
- Minister For Social Services
Award for Excellence in Volunteerism - 2003
- Religious Zionist Award
for Leadership and Achievement 2004
Board Of Governors of the Jewish
Agency Tribute -
Honorary certificate for “Heroes Of The Home Front” Second War in Lebanon 2006
- Organization of Religious Teachers in Israel
-Award for Exemplary Valor During the Second War in Lebanon 2006
Municipality of Kiryat Shemonah - Certificate for Heroism during 2nd War in Lebanon 2006