• Guide to Israel Schools

  • Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah—S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program

  • Goal of the Program

    Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah's goals are to help students become genuinely independent in their learning, to give them an authentic derech in limud haTorah, and to allow them to experience meaningful spiritual growth through their participation in our unique spiritual and intellectual community. They will become independently thinking individuals who are able to successfully navigate and deeply investigate the classic Torah texts on their own. After attending Yesodei HaTorah, students should be committed and believing bnei Torah, prepared to live life devoted to Torah and Mitzvot. They also will have developed the deep understanding needed to formulate their own Torah-true hashkafot.

    Hashkafa
    Goal of Program
    Our goal is to help students become independently skillful bnei Torah - that is, to help them become independently thinking individuals who are able to successfully navigate the classic Torah texts on their own. After attending Yesodei HaTorah, students should be committed and believing bnei Torah, prepared to live life devoted to Torah and Mitzvot. They will have acquired the ability to learn independently, and developed the deep understanding needed to formulate their own Torah-true hashkafot.

    Attitude towards Israel and Medinat Yisrael

    Yesodei HaTorah is a religious Zionist yeshiva. This is transmitted through the attitude of the rabbeim to the State of Israel, and particularly through our tiyulim, which strongly emphasize both ancient Jewish history and the modern experience in Medinat Yisrael. Chugim which teach issues in Israeli politics and Zionist theory are offered, as well as a weekly shiur in Torat Eretz Yisrael.

    Attitude towards University Studies

    Students are strongly encouraged and expected to attend university following yeshiva. We emphasize the importance of continuing in an environment where the student will be able to grow spiritually, learn on a daily basis, and become part of a committed community. Whether the above criteria are fulfilled by Yeshiva University or another college is a choice the student must make for himself.

    Attitude towards Extracurricular Activities

    Many extracurricular activities are made available for our students, including basketball, football, ulpan, guitar lessons, karate lessons, ping pong, and optional chugim in other areas. Students who wish to be involved in formal chesed programs are encouraged to do so. There is a student lounge, a weight room, and a computer area with wireless internet access.

    Preparation for Post Israel

    Our faculty recognizes that the year in Israel is a foundational year, primarily designed to prepare students for the rest of their lives. Accordingly, our curriculum is designed to enable students to live as bnei Torah in college and thereafter. We also provide specific chugim and independent counseling to help students in their college years, as well as in dealing with their peers who did not come to Israel for the year.

    The "Successful" Student

    A successful Yesodei HaTorah alumnus can successfully and independently learn the classic and foundational Torah texts, understands them in depth, and has developed the ability to think independently as a ben Torah. He is totally committed to shmirat Torah u'mitzvot, makes time daily for k'viat itim la'Torah, recognizes the importance of Eretz Yisrael, and is concerned for the welfare of Am Yisrael as a whole.

    Dress

    Students must wear shirts with collars, and shoes with socks. Students are not permitted to wear jeans in shiur or in the Beit Midrash.

    Guidance Personnel

    All rabbeim at Yesodei HaTorah are available to discuss both personal and religious issues with our students. Moreover, the yeshiva's menahel ruchani, Rav Moshe Simkovich, is always available to our students, and frequently initiates meetings with them in order to ensure that they are enjoying and benefitting from the yeshiva. Because we have a very low faculty-to-student ratio, all students have the opportunity to become exceptionally close with their teachers. Their students frequently visit the houses of their rabbeim, and develop relationships with them which transcend the topics taught in the classroom, and will continue after they have completed their study in yeshiva. Moreover, our rabbeim also initiate discussions with their talmidim, in order to regularly ensure that they are happy, satisfied with their experience in Yesodei HaTorah, and growing as independent bnei Torah.

    Supervision

    Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah is always careful to ensure that our students are healthy, safe, and secure. Students are expected to attend all shiurim and minyanim, unless they have received permission from a member of the administration. However, we do not formally take attendance. Yesodei HaTorah attracts motivated, intelligent and responsible students, and we expect them to act accordingly. Given that they have come to grow as bnei Torah, we expect that they will not use their free time to do things not in the proper spirit of yeshiva life, such as drinking alcohol. There is a daily curfew - meaning that students must be on campus - at midnight, and at 1 AM on Motzaei Shabbat.
    Curriculum
    Makeup
    Yesodei HaTorah's unique curriculum was designed with the active and ongoing input of serious educators and Talmidei Chachamim. Every aspect of our daily and yearly schedule is designed to expose our students to the classic works of Jewish thought, with an eye towards their acquiring the skills needed to successfully navigate these texts on their own in depth. The morning program is spent on in-depth Talmud study. The morning shiurim are divided according to level; each student is placed in a shiur appropriate for his background. Shiurim are available for the advanced student, the relative newcomer to Talmud, and those in between. The afternoon includes a Gemara bekiut shiur, as well as other subjects. The emphasis in Talmud - as in most of our shiurim- is on in-depth skill acquisition, through the utilization of the most up-to-date educational methodology. Students are always actively involved in the shiurim. For example, the students do all the reading in the morning Gemara shiruim, while the teacher acts as a guide, essentially learning the material along with the students. The students are actively engaged and stimulated during all shiurim, and develop independent learning abilities at An unsurpassed rate.

    Courses Offered
    Our student-centered curriculum includes courses in the classic works of the Jewish tradition, in order to expose students to the foundational texts and ideas which underlie Torah Judaism. Talmud (iyun and bekiut), Halacha, Chumash with the classic mepharshim, Nach, and Jewish Philosophy are all integral parts of our curriculum. Each course is designed to help students become independently skilled in the texts being studied. The Jewish Philosophy curriculum deals primarily with the classic medieval Jewish philosophers, such as the Rambam, Ramban, R. Yehuda HaLevi, and R. Albo. After studying the great ideas and philosophical positions of these Rishonim, students are exposed to those same ideas as dealt with by modern thinkers, such as Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Kook.

    Daily Schedule
    Shacharit begins at 7:30 AM, followed by breakfast and a break.
    The Talmud seder/shiurim take place from 9:00 until 12:30.
    Lunch follows Talmud. The lunch break, which lasts until 3 PM, is a time when students rest, relax, participate in extracurricular activites, or learn independently.
    There is an optional mussar seder at 2:40 PM. Mincha is at 3:00 followed by Munachei Halacha, while Talmud bekiut is from 3:20-5:00.
    At 5 PM, students learn either Jewish Philosophy, Halacha, or Nach, depending on the day and on their personal preferences.
    Dinner is at 6:30 PM.
    Night Seder begins at 7:30 PM, during which time students will study independently or with chavrotot, and take advantage of the various optional shiurim that are offered. Additionally, there is a weekly seder and shiur in Chumash with mepharshim on Tuesday nights. Maariv is at 10 PM.

    (While this represents a typical day, there are various differences on different days of the week. For example, Tuesday afternoons are largely dedicated to Torah Research Skills, preparation of independent chaburot, and special speakers, while Wednesday nights from 6:30 are off.)

    Language of Instruction
    All mandatory classes are in English, although there are some optional courses in Hebrew, as well as our ulpan.

    Ulpan or Hebrew Class

    Yesodei HaTorah offers an optional ulpan, as well as numerous opportunities to learn b'chavruta with rabbeim in Hebrew.

    Assessment and Grading

    Given our low faculty-to-student ratio and our insistence on constant student participation, teachers are assessing their students on an almost daily basis. There are no mandatory exams, although optional tests are offered and recommended to help facilitate proper review of the material learned and the skills gained. Additionally, Yesodei HaTorah is currently working with ATID to develop advanced assessment tools so that we can further refine our educational methodology, and determine each student's progress with greater precision.

    Shana Bet

    There is a formal shana bet program.

    Joint Program

    Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah is a member of the YU Joint Israel Program.
    Staff
    Yesodei HaTorah has a staff of fifteen rabbeim, including:

    Rabbi Scott Kahn - Rosh Yeshiva
    Rabbi Scott Kahn, Rosh Yeshiva, studied at Yeshivat Hakotel, Darche Noam/Shappell's, and Midrash Shmuel, was a fellow of the Darche Noam Kollel, and received semicha from HaRav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg and Darche Noam. He graduated from Brandeis University, and was a gradute student at Oxford University in the Oriental Studies Department. He developed a skill-based approach to Talmud while teaching at Reishit Yerushalayim.

    Rabbi Pesach Wolicki - Rosh Yeshiva
    Rabbi Pesach Wolicki, Rosh Yeshiva, studied at Kerem B'Yavneh, was a fellow of the Darche Noam Kollel, and received semicha from the Chief Rabbinate of Jerusalem. A noted educator and lecturer, he served as a pulpit rabbi in Virginia, and as Development Director of Hillel Academy in Fairfield, Connecticut. He also worked as a political activist in several organizations, including service as Executive Director of the Campaign for Missing Israeli Soldiers.
    Extra-Curricular Activities
    Interaction with Israelis
    We encourage our students to see as much of Israel as possible. This is partially accomplished through our tiyulim, as well as via the out-Shabbatot. We do not actively support one political party or the other in Israel, and encourage our students to find out as much as possible about these issues in order to form an intelligent and informed opinion of their own.

    Special Informal programs
    We have frequent guest speakers who enable our students to hear different perspectives from within the Torah world. We also have mesibot and chagigot involving both the students and the rabbeim, and are always involved in finding fun and exciting ways of transmitting Torah ideas. One example is that after our students learned the laws of Terumot and Ma'asrot, they put this newfound knowledge into practice with fruit picked from our own campus. Another example of a special program occurred when the entire yeshiva attended the tekes hashba’ah – the swearing-in ceremony – of an alumnus of the yeshiva who joined the Israeli army.

    Sports Facilities
    The yeshiva has a weight room, a putting green, a ping pong table, and a basketball hoop, while the moshav basketball court is a five minute walk from our campus. We also field a football team and a basketball team in local competitive leagues, and offer karate classes.

    Programming for Shabbat and Yom Tov
    Approximately once every three Shabbatot is an in-Shabbat, where students are required to remain on the yeshiva campus for a spirited Shabbat with meaningful davening, special shiurim, meals together as a yeshiva community, and a Friday night tisch. The other two Shabbatot of the cycle are out-Shabbatot, on which students are permitted to leave the yeshiva campus to spend Shabbat elsewhere - with rabbeim, friends, or family. Students are welcome to stay on-campus on out-Shabbatot, and meals will be provided with local families, most of whom are recent olim to the Beit Shemesh area. The administration will assist those students who wish to go away for Shabbat, but do not have family in Israel. Students are never asked to leave their rooms, even on Pesach and Sukkot vacations. Meals are provided for those students who are on campus during these chagim.

    Field Trips
    Tiyulim take place approximately once a month. Our tiyulim aim to use the Land of Israel itself as an educational tool; students have a fantastic time while developing a personal relationship with the Land through direct experience of Eretz Yisrael. Hikes and overnights in Eretz Yisrael make Tanach and Jewish History come alive. We also use tiyulim to emphasize the importance of Medinat Yisrael to contemporary Jewish life. Additionally, trips to religious service institutions demonstrate hands-on applications of Torah and Halacha. All trips are coordinated with the Israeli army; an armed guard is always present.
    Eligibility
    Level of Learning Offered
    Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced - We have shiurim catering to different skill levels, from relative beginners to those who can already independently read a Talmudic passage with Rishonim. Motivation and intelligence are more important prerequisites than skills already acquired.

    Hebrew Knowledge Required
    Beginner/Intermediate - Shiurim are mainly in English, but options for Hebrew language shiurim and ulpan are available.

    Religious Observance Required
    A full commitment to shmirat Torah U'mitzvot is assumed.
    Population
    Type of American Student
    We have and have had students from New York, Boston, Silver Spring, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Chicago, Memphis, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Hartford, Miami, Boca Raton, Santa Fe, Columbus, Toronto, and Montreal.

    Overall Number of Students (Kollel, Israeli, Foreign)
    We are anticipating approximately 45 students for the 2010-2011 year, and we expect continued growth in the future.

    Foreign Student Percentage
    Most students are from the United States, although we also have students from Canada and Great Britain.

    Number of 1st Year American Students
    25

    Number of 2nd Year American Students
    14

    Other Nationalities
    Canada, Great Britain

    Number of Students per Class
    We have 15 faculty members for our students. Classes are small by design. Morning Gemara shiurim, for instance, do not have more than six to eight students per shiur; this ratio has been maintained, even during periods of growth.
    Accommodations
    Living Quarters
    Students at Yesodei HaTorah are housed in one of three beautiful, air conditioned villas on the yeshiva campus. Depending on the size of the room, there are between two and four students per room. The villas include a spacious student lounge, and student cooking facilities. There are also laundry facilities on the yeshiva campus. Guests are welcome to stay in the dormitory, after receiving permission from the administration. The yeshiva will do its best to comply with roommate requests.

    Internet and Email Policy:
    Students have access to email and to the internet. All students are expected to refrain from accessing websites with content inappropriate for bnei Torah; if this privilege is abused, computer rights may be revoked. Students are permitted to bring their own laptops, on the condition that they adhere to the yeshiva rules and regulations (which can be obtained by contacting the yeshiva office). The computers located in the computer lounge are not available for use while shiurim are in session. If a student does not follow these rules and regulations, the administration will revoke computer privileges and/or confiscate laptops.

    Availability of Private Kitchen Facilities
    Although the yeshiva provides all meals, there are also cooking facilities, a refrigerator available for student use, and food available for students 24 hours a day.

    Facility use during Shabbat and Yom Tov
    Approximately once every three Shabbatot is an in-Shabbat, where students are required to remain on the yeshiva campus for a spirited Shabbat with meaningful davening, special shiurim, meals together as a yeshiva community, and a Friday night tisch. The other two Shabbatot of the cycle are out-Shabbatot, on which students are permitted to leave the yeshiva campus to spend Shabbat elsewhere - with rabbeim, friends, or family. Students are welcome to stay on-campus on out-Shabbatot, and meals will be provided with local families, most of whom are recent olim to the Beit Shemesh area. The administration will assist those students who wish to go away for Shabbat, but do not have family in Israel. Students are never asked to leave their rooms, even on Pesach and Sukkot vacations. Meals are provided for those students who are on campus during these chagim.

    Curfew
    Students must be on the Yesodei HaTorah campus by midnight; on Motza'ei Shabbat, they must return by 1 AM. This curfew can be extended if a student has received prior permission from the yeshiva administration. The administration must be informed in advance where students will be on out-Shabbatot.

    Security Arrangements
    Our students' personal safety is the administration's most important and pressing concern. We do not allow students to cross the Green Line without express parental permission. Additionally, the yeshiva reserves the right to impose further restrictions as warranted by the security situation in Israel. All tiyulim are coordinated with the Israeli army, and include a melaveh neshek (an armed guard).
    History
    Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah is located in Moshav Zanoach, right between Beit Shemesh and Ramat Beit Shemesh. The yeshiva was founded in order to provide a serious, skill-based and student-centered curriculum in Gemara and other central texts, developed by serious educators and talmidei chachaimim, with an eye towards helping our students become independently skillful bnei Torah.
    Accrediting Universities
    Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah is a Yeshiva University S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program School. Students may obtain credit at other colleges as well, through which they can apply for government grants and loans.

    Each college has its own policy concerning credit for a year spent in yeshiva, and we are willing to investigate each college's policy on behalf of any prospective student.
    Tuition
    Rabbi Scott Kahn and Rabbi Pesach WolickiTuition is $20,000 for 2009-2010.

    This includes all aspects of the educational program, ulpan, room and board, and most extracurricular activites.
    Additional Information
    Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah attracts intelligent and motivated students who want to use their year in Israel to become independently skillful bnei Torah. An independent, thinking individual who wants to acquire skills in Talmud and other central texts, while learning how to think deeply as a ben Torah, will thrive in our system.
    Contact Information

    Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah
    Website: www.yesodei.org
    E-mail: yeshiva@yesodei.org  

    Phone: 011 972 2 992-3099
    Fax: 011 972 2 992 3055

    U.S. Direct number 617-997-4626
    Rosh Yeshiva:
    Rabbi Scott Kahn and Rabbi Pesach Wolicki

Yeshiva University
500 West 185th Street
New York, NY 10033
212.960.5400

Connect With YU