May 30, 2024
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Help Support the Galil’s Yeshivat Ma’alot

Unbeknown to many of Israel’s caring friends, the north of Israel is in a mighty demographic struggle having lost Jewish majority. Increasing Jewish presence and identity for 50 years, Yeshivat Ma’alot Ya’akov located in the Northwest Galilee (Galil) has been a community beacon for Torah. Led by Rav Yehoshua Weizman, now chairman of all Bnei Akiva’s high schools while continuing as rosh yeshiva, Yeshivat Ma’alot has grown to one of the largest hesder yeshivot. It has sparkplugged other yeshivot (ie. the yeshivot in Akko, Holon, Nof HaGalil, Netiv Tfahot and Ashdod), and brings in new waves of students to the Upper Galil every year, ultimately strengthening the Galil community as students settle and build families in the area. The hesder program is committed to a balancing Torah-learning and army service, making service to the Jewish people, in and out of uniform, the life mission of all its students.

The yeshiva is looking for your help with the programming provided to students and to the general Galil community. Among the reasons I fell in love with the yeshiva is its unique approach to Torah learning. Torat Eretz Yisrael, as it’s become known, sees the Talmud as a bridge between Halacha and the philosophical-spiritual ideas at its core. The approach, made accessible to students, makes Torah relevant and inspiring. But the challenge is equally great as it requires command of all branches of Torah: Tanach, Jewish philosophy, Hasidut, Midrash, as well as more classical learned branches in Torah be it Gemara and Halacha. No less important and unique, the Yeshiva’s livuy, accompaniment, program seeks to guide each individual student, in a one on one weekly framework, to strengthen their spiritual growth within a vital and meaningful personal relationship.

Am Yisrael is in trying times, and the divisions within the social fabric are felt perhaps more than ever. Since the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, the yeshiva embarked on a program that aims to unify Jews by bringing people together in open discourse. Instead of regular Thursday evening programming, students engage members of the community at large, and kindle relationships and connections, with the goal of building bridges and mutual respect. In an age of digital distancing, the program was named Panim El Panim, Face to Face. Achdut, Jewish unity, is a priority more than ever, a value Yeshivat Ma’alot has stressed and educated towards for decades.

David/Didi Stern

Another inspiring program the yeshiva has spearheaded, for which it also needs support, is its work with area immigrants. Ma’alot is home to a large Bnei Menashe community, a tribe of estranged Indian Jews that have maintained minimal but stable connection to their Jewish heritage. Met with mighty challenges adapting to a very different culture, language and social identity, Bnei Menashe find themselves in need of more support than what is provided by government agencies. The yeshiva has stepped up by starting professional education programs alongside Jewish education courses in order to help these estranged Jews feel more at home in Israel. A girls high school has also been opened up by the yeshiva specifically for the Bnei Menashe community, and boys have been embraced within the yeshiva programming in order to help them integrate into the army and acclimate to Israeli society.

Yeshivat Ma’alot is my home, and there is no surprise in my saying, I love my home. My parents made aliyah from Australia, and I grew up in Beit Shemesh. I started in Maalot after high school, and later served in the engineering corp as a combat fighter. Today, I am married and a father of two. I am studying nursing and have the honor to teach and develop the yeshiva.

Yeshivat Ma’alot is first a yeshiva, but its influence—and its programming—extends to the entire Galil and beyond. From being headquarters for the birth of other yeshivot, to seeing the social needs of society as the whole and of particular communities, Yeshivat Ma’alot is at the forefront of meeting Israel’s great challenges.

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