An Israeli boy who enters the five-year Hesder program embarks on an effort to fuse two disparate and often conflicting worlds: the rows of the Beit Midrash and the rows of the combat units of the Israeli Defense Force. They serve their country with great devotion as the execution of a religious duty. But it is their experience in Yeshiva that gives them the inner spiritual strength to endure the rigors of army life and prepare them for life beyond the Hesder program.
Over 100 students come from abroad each year, from first and second year students to post-college and rabbinical students. Overseas students are fully integrated into the Yeshiva. In addition to the primary goal of talmud Torah, the Yeshiva recognizes the importance of other aspects of personal growth. A wide-range of chessed opportunities is offered, so that each talmid can choose a suitable framework. Similarly, numerous tiyulim - Bible in hand - are scheduled over the course of the year. The number of Har Etzion alumni from foreign countries is nearing 2,000, including approximately 500 who have come on aliya.
Students from South Africa and Australia study at the Yeshiva in a one-year program run by Bnei Akiva. Over 100 students have participated in the program since its inception. The alumni are today playing an active role in all aspects of Jewish education and community leadership in these countries.
Each year, following a minimun of two years in yeshiva, approximately 10 foreign students opt to participate in the one-year Machal Army Program. They are fully integrated in the army with first-year Hesder students, spending nine months in basic training and active duty, followed by three months in Yeshiva. Afterwards, they return to their respective countries for university study. When they come on aliya, they are exempt from basic training and enter directly into the reserves.
Since its establishment, the Yeshiva has been dedicated to producing top-quality Jewish educators and communal leaders for Israel and the Diaspora. Alumni of the Yeshiva hold prominent positions in Jewish schools, organizations and youth groups throughout the world and have made a significant contribution to improving the level of Jewish education in their respective geographic areas.
In recent years, the Yeshiva has earned the reputation of being "the place" for post-college students. A core group of 30-40 foreign students has formed in the Yeshiva who are seriously considering a career in education and/or the rabbinate. The Saks Leadership Training Program provides a prestigious and comprehensive program for these promising individuals. Educational staff members work closely with them on a one-to-one basis in order to guide their progress in honing learning skills, practical teaching experience, and overall development.
Har Etzion alumni have established advanced learning programs in London, South Africa and Australia. The "Torah MiTzion" Kollel was established in 1994, in Cleveland, Ohio, headed by Rav Binyamin Tabory and three advanced Kollel members. Rabbi Herzl Hefter served as the Rosh Kollel for the 1995 and 1996 academic years, followed by Rabbi Mosheh Lichtenstein and Rabbi Eli Blum. Similarly, in Chicago, the Kollel has been headed by Rabbi Moshe Aberman and Rabbi Yehuda Susman. Rabbi Chanoch Waxman will be assuming the post for the 2003 academic year.
Over 300 Russian olim, both men and women, have participated in the Yeshivas leadership training programs over the past years. Graduates of the program are currently teaching Judaic studies in schools and ulpanim to new olim in Israel and serving as youth group leaders, tour guides, etc. Many Russian and Ethiopian students have chosen to study on an advanced level in the Yeshiva. They have made remarkable progress in their studies, including many who have joined the regular Hesder and Semikha programs. Har Etzion rabbi and older student teams travel to the former Soviet Union on an ongoing basis, for periods of a few months to a year, to teach, run youth activities, and organize authentic holiday celebrations.
The Virtual Beit Midrash seeks to provide yeshiva
style courses and shiurim in Torah and Judaism to students of all
ages outside the Yeshiva walls, opening, to the greatest extent
possible, a window into the Beit Midrash. Courses are sent out
weekly to subscribers, who are able to communicate with course
instructors or coordinators.
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