Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

25 Teves 5766 - January 25, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











The Unique Yeshiva in Kfar Zeitim

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Deputy Minister of the Labor and Welfare Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz recently visited the moshav Kfar Zeitim, located near Tiveria. He was accompanied by his senior staff. They went to see the unusual yeshiva that was established there several years ago for students who need other activities in addition to learning Torah.

Rabbi Ravitz was evidently impressed when he met the staff and talmidim. He was able to see for himself the professional approach that is taken so that each talmid is guided along the path best suited for him personally. The senior staff of the Ministry of Welfare were also deeply impressed with the methods and success of the institution and they promised to do whatever they could to help out.


A lot can be done, a lot can be saved but it all depends on us, on every single one of us. The problem is a familiar one and occurs in many families today. Everyone has tried, in their own way, to cope with the problem, but often without special success. Many have thought the problem is the school, the cheder, the yeshiva, the teacher, the rebbe — everybody except our dear son. He is just a regular child.

The fact that he is mischievous or that he is not capable of concentrating on the gemora even for a few minutes, is a small problem that will resolve itself with time — if not today, then tomorrow, and if not tomorrow then the maybe next year. Of this we are certain.

The years fly by rapidly. The child goes from school to school, trying but not finding his place. He survives yet another day at school, another day in yeshiva, but he is lost among the seforim that surround him. Even in the single sefer in front of him, he finds himself lost.

This is one frustrated young boy. The lack of activity and achievement, the lack of interest, has caused him to loose every last bit of patience. For these children and teenagers — who in any case have an overabundance of creativity — every other day of idleness and inactivity is terrifyingly destructive. The alternatives are unfortunate.

These children are commonly diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), or are just generally known as "hyperactive." These are general very intelligent boys and very capable. They are simply not capable of sitting and concentrating on their learning, especially hour upon hour, day after day. Sometimes even sitting in class for a short period of time can unbalance their serenity. Giving them something creative to do, something challenging to fill their time and minds, is the only thing that can keep them from becoming frustrated.

They are capable of learning, they are capable of studying — something that does not require constant concentration from morning to night. Forcing them to learn in school or yeshiva only causes their deterioration and quickens their fall, with consequences that no parent wants.

The lack of professional care necessary to cope with these problems in the correct way, causes tragic outcomes. Many good boys from good backgrounds have found themselves at a dead end. Parents are left hopeless, having given them all possible attention, and more love and affection than any of their other children — to no avail. The child can be most successful, and is able to reach untold achievements — only in a different way from everyone else.

In Kfar Zeitim, a moshav founded some fifty years ago in the lower Galilee, on an open plateau overlooking Mount Arbel with a breathtaking view, high above the Kinneret in a calm and relaxing atmosphere, far away from the hustle and bustle of city life, there is a growing group of boys who have been given a chance to progress at their own pace. Here they thrive and blossom.

These boys found a unique educational concept which enables them to grow and develop their abilities in natural surroundings. Here they are offered a choice of various vocational fields such as construction, agriculture, carpentry and more, combined with joyous Torah learning.

It may sound easy but it is far from that. A special program has to be created for each boy. Every one has his own character and his own needs. This of course makes it difficult and expensive for those who are behind this unique project.

Rabbi Dov Frank, an educator who was formerly the principal of a talmud Torah in Bnei Brak for 25 years, accepted the challenge and came to Kfar Zeitim. With the blessings and encouragement of HaRav Shteinman and with the blessings and guidance of HaRav Silman of Bnei Brak and HaRav Avraham Dov Auerbach of Tiveria, he joined Yehuda Hertzlich, a resident of Kfar Zeitim who has extensive experience working with youngsters. Professional counselling is Michel Alon's part. He is an educational psychologist whose expertise is youth guidance who gives personal care and attention to the students, in addition to meeting with the staff periodically to discuss various issues that come up and to give guidelines for coping with changing situations. The rosh yeshiva HaRav Aryeh Rubinfeld is directly responsible for the students' Torah studies and ruchniyus. Together the dedicated staff have established an educational program designed to reach the neshomoh of each boy, with dedication and love.

The results of these combined efforts are outstanding: About thirty-five boys from all backgrounds — Litvish, Chassidic, Ashkenazi and Sephardi — find their place here, sharing the challenge of combining Torah with creative activity.

The day starts with Shacharis, after which the boys spend some time tidying up their rooms. These are pleasant and well-kept wood cabins surrounded by gardens and lawns. The boys themselves maintain the grounds.

Then they eat breakfast, prepared by the "chefs" — a few of the boys who love to prepare and cook food.

The morning hours are dedicated to Torah learning in groups. The rosh yeshiva Rabbi Rubinfeld approaches his students with exemplary patience, giving friendly personalized attention to each one. The daily shiur is given by the Educational Director, Rabbi Dov Frank. The boys' obvious interest and enjoyment show on their faces.

In the afternoon, the boys work on their various vocational projects, accompanied by step-by-step professional guidance. The joy of creativity and satisfaction of meaningful labor, in addition to congenial company, give them a feeling of real contentment. Some tend to the animals, feeding the sheep and goats, riding the horses, and collecting the fresh eggs from the hen-house. This develops their sense of responsibility.

Once a week, the group goes on a field trip to various places in the Galilee and the Golan Heights.

The rosh yeshiva Rabbi Aryeh Rubinfeld will be in London during the week of 29/1/06 — 3/2/06.


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