Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Orot Israel College Students Visit Zomet Institute

By Rav Avraham Weiss  
Head of Toshb”a Department, Elkana campus

Not long ago, students from Orot Israel College’s Toshb”a (Oral Law) Department visited the Zomet Institute in Gush Etzion. As its website explains, the Zomet Institute is “dedicated to seamlessly merging halachic Judaism with modern life.” Founded in 5737 (1977), Zomet is known for its halachic-technological solutions, including milking machines that can be used on Shabbat, Shabbat elevators, electric scooters for Shabbat, and much more. Zomet now boasts a new visitor’s center, where the general public can learn about these technologies and the underlying halachic principles involved.
For the Orot students, the tour was a chance to see real-life, modern applications of “dry,” theoretical Halachah - including equipment for hospitals, security systems, and home use. Furthermore, translating halachic principles into a practical language helps clarify those principles. Thus, for example, the students learned about the differences between the halachic concepts of grama and ko’ach kocho; the necessary preconditions for grama; the source for the prohibition against using electricity on Shabbat (boneh, makeh b’patish, mavir, or molid?); and the practical ramifications of these questions.
The students were particularly intrigued by the issue of shinui otzmat zerem hechashmal (varying of electric current), which is the principle behind the use of hearing aids, electric scooters, electric wheelchairs, metal detectors, automatic gates, LED lights, and other instruments on Shabbat. Halachic authorities insist that shinui otzmat zerem hechashmal does not involve molid (loosely, “creating” something new), but shinui otzmat zerem hechashmal is usually restricted to cases of tzorech gadol (literally, “a great need”), due to concerns of marit ayin (outward appearance) or that such use is “unbefitting Shabbat.” However, it is possible that in the distant future, these concerns will no longer apply. After all, the so-called Shabbat clock (i.e. an automatic timer) is now widely used, but initially, some opinions held that it should only be used to turn on lights on Shabbat (due to similar concerns).
Rav Reuven Spolter, who teaches a course on the Shabbat laws at Orot Israel College, accompanied the students on their fascinating and enlightening tour of the Zomet 

Orot Israel College Hosts Gala Book Launch in Honor of Dr. Yitzchak Sapir

On Tuesday, 23 Adar 5773 (March 5, 2013), Orot Israel College’s Elkana campus hosted an event marking the release of “Minchat Sapir” – a collection of articles published in Dr. Yitzchak Sapir’s honor. Dr. Ayal Davidson, head of Orot’s Land of Israel Studies Department, served as the master of ceremonies for the gala event, which was held in the presence of Rav Professor Neria Guttel, President of Orot Israel College; Dr. Yehuda Felix, Orot’s founder and first Rosh Michlalah; Dr. Yossi Spanier, the book’s editor and the former head of Orot’s Land of Israel Studies Department; Orot’s faculty, alumni, family, and many friends. In addition, Aviv Gozlan, one of Dr. Sapir’s students, played the piano, and Dr. Aryeh Morgenstern delivered a fascinating lecture entitled “Building the Churvah: The Onset of the Redemption and the Vilna Gaon’s Students.”

“This evening is very emotional and special,” noted Rav Professor Guttel. “What makes this evening so special is that it sprang from below. Orot supported and assisted, of course, in the book’s publication. But the initiative and the publishing were arranged by Yitzchak’s colleagues, friends, and loved ones, and I consider that to be a fitting expression of this evening, this book, and this man. The book conveys love, affection, and friendship. During the Exodus from Egypt, we left 80% of the nation behind. However, when we received the Torah, we once again became one nation: ‘as one man, with one heart.’ So, too, this book and evening, which brought together those who deal with different opinions, purviews, and departments, constitutes a pathway to unity and cooperation.”

Dr. Spanier recalled, “About four years ago, Professor Yisrael Rosenson and I decided to put together a commemorative book for our friend Dr. Yitzchak Sapir, in honor of his retirement. During the intervening years, we collected, sorted, and organized the articles. While editing the book, we focused on Yitzchak’s interests and activities over the years, including the Tanach, synagogues, prayer, the history of the Land of Israel, Israeli botany, and archeology. Although it took us somewhat longer than anticipated, we believe that the final product will not disappoint and that the book reflects the man of the book: Yitzchak.

“As it says on the book’s cover: ‘The main thread connecting the articles is the authors’ admiration and appreciation for the man whom they honored with their writing: Yitzchak Sapir. This is the thread that connects the writers and their compositions to the readers. Sapir connects worlds and people. On an academic level, his multidisciplinary approach is evident at every turn… Sapir’s personality and critiques lead to a multifaceted integration – of religion and science, Torah and derech eretz, man and the One Above. This collection was written as a gift of love for a family man, a researcher, an explorer, a scholar, an educator, and most of all, a dear friend. His name is Yitzchak Sapir.’”

Representing the family, Dr. Sapir’s son Uri remarked, “It is now several days after Purim, and one of the familiar themes of the Megilah is ‘v’nahafochu’ (‘and it shall be reversed.’) There is no need to tell those who know Abba how important this matter is to him. The root ‘hey-pey-chaf’ appears in Tehilim 114, where the miracle of the Exodus from Egypt is described in comparison to unnatural phenomena. The miracle is cited in reference to the contrast between an immovable stone as opposed to flowing water. Even Chazal likened the Torah to both stone and water. Similarly, firmness versus elasticity are just one of the many inherent contrasts which characterize Abba. His way of life, which contains contradictions and contrasts, yields great depths – like signposts with crests, valleys, and mountains.

“An adherence to truth is manifested in Abba’s life as a life of action, and as the Rambam said: ‘Practices the truth, because it is truth.’ Often, this trait creates antagonism, detachment, and distance from others. But this is not the case with Abba. His teachers, his friends, his students, and his partners along the way know a man who walks with his truth and, at the same time, loves and supports unconditionally. Truth and peace are two values that – like stone and water – clearly contrast with each other, but as the navi said: ‘Love truth and peace.’ Love makes room for both of them, and indeed, for Abba, these values stand next to each other, fully and completely.”

Next, Orot alumnus Naama Ariel said, “Dr. Sapir recommended that we read the international bestseller – the Tanach – and to extract its pearls. In every chapter and verse, he sees the word of Hashem that must be studied, and we were always amazed by his knowledge and devotion to every book and verse. In addition to the intellectual learning, there is a great deal of emotion in his approach to the Land of Israel, and one part of the air he breathes is the Land. He is not a teacher in the ordinary sense of the word, but first and foremost, a loving and concerned educator.”

Dr. Sapir himself was the final speaker. He said, “One of the most awkward moments of my life was when Yisrael and Yossi told me that they were thinking about publishing the book, and they asked for my permission. I considered it and finally agreed to their proposal. And when I saw how my teachers and my friends willingly and gladly responded and shared their teachings, and even more so, when I see the book, which is like a new vessel filled with aged wine, I am happy and thankful.

“During a rare cynicism-free moment, I wrote in the introduction to my research paper: ‘This work is the fruit of loves – a love of the Torah, a love of the Land, a love of the Hebrew language, and a love of Israel and its history.’ At my request, the book’s editors divided it into four sections, corresponding to these four loves…

“I see you before me – my teachers and my friends, who have been with me throughout my life: friends in Torah learning, friends in a love and knowledge of the Land, friends in the act of settling it, and friends in fighting for it. I love you all, and thank you for gathering together and coming.”

Students in the English Department assist Learning Disabled students in Elkana’s elementary school

By Dr. Vitela Arzi, 
Head of the English Department, Elkana campus

Students in the English Department taking the course "Teaching English to Students with Learning Disabilities (L.D.)" have an excellent opportunity to implement their theoretical knowledge by teaching students in the neighborhood elementary school on a one to one basis.
The goal of the program is to allow our future English teachers to have hands-on experience to practice what they have been taught. The first semester of the course was dedicated not only to the teaching of the remedial program for teaching reading to L.D. students, but also to the acquisition of concepts and topics related to L.D. learners, such as attention deficit disorder and visual and audio perception problems.
The participants in the program are students who were selected by the elementary school advisor after consulting with teachers. All have some form of a learning disability and have had difficulties learning English.
Orot students come equipped with the necessary material for assessment and teaching while the class instructor, Mrs. Tzila Rabinovitz, an experienced professional in the field of Teaching English to Learning Disabled students, makes the rounds and supervises the activity. After the lesson, the students and instructor discuss and summarize their work.
Both students and pupils benefit from the program. The students gain practical experience in teaching the remedial method they have learned and the pupils benefit from being taught in a way that accommodates their learning styles.