Monday, July 7, 2014

Rav Yaakov Ariel Meets With Orot Guidance Students

by Ravid Tirosh and Arieh Cohen 
Graduate Students, Guidance Department 

As the 5774 school year came to an end, Rav Yaakov Ariel, Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan and a veteran Orot Israel College lecturer, met with all the graduate students from Orot’s guidance department. Rav Professor Neria Guttel, President of Orot Israel College, greeted the attendees and extolled Orot’s guidance department. He noted that everything is contained in the Torah - "הפוך בה והפוך בה דכולא בה" (“delve into it and delve into it, for everything is in it” – Avot 5:26) – but we must also use universal tools in order to uncover and acquire all this wisdom and knowledge. Thus, Rav Guttel explained, Rav Ariel’s invitation to Orot represents the integration of the Torah approach with the professional, scientific approach. In other words, the idea of "חכמה בגוים תאמין" (“you may believe that there is wisdom among the nations of the world”) is combined with Torat Yisrael.
Rav Ariel began his talk with a focus on values. He said that science and research tools are designed to help us understand this world, but by definition and by their very nature, they are not concerned with “values.” Science does not set values. Rather, it investigates and presents facts. In contrast, the Torah establishes the values that we use in science. Hence, there is no fundamental contradiction between Torah and science.
Next, Rav Ariel addressed various halachic questions, which the students had submitted in advance. Before answering the questions, he stated that scientific literature can often help us understand reality. For instance, he referred to the case of an OCD patient who repeatedly washes his hands for netilat yadayim. Although such a person may seem like a “tzadik” who is only trying to perform the mitzvah in an ideal manner, a scientific approach reveals that in truth, such a person suffers from a psychological condition and requires treatment. Rav Ariel cited the Chatam Sofer’s unequivocal ruling that such a person be instructed not to repeat the mitzvah - even if he is concerned that he did not fulfill it properly. Other issues addressed by Rav Ariel included teaching homosexual students; encouraging (forcing?) students to attend davening; situations where there are conflicts between the school and the home (e.g., a mother who does not cover her hair while the school teaches that married women must do so); Internet use; smartphones in yeshiva high schools and ulpanot; modesty; and more. Rav Ariel spoke out forcibly against those who “bury their heads in the sand” about a lack of modesty in the religious community and claim that “we don’t have that problem.” According to the Rav, the phenomenon exists everywhere, in every sector, and even in our own educational institutions.
The entire discussion was open and frank, and Rav Ariel stressed that even if we do not always have immediate answers, we must continue to ask the questions. He recommended creating a forum where these issues can be discussed and cited the words of Mishlei: "ותשועה ברב יועץ" (“and salvation comes with much council” – Mishlei 11:14).

Orot Receives Prize For Innovative “Moviemaking: History in the Making” Project

by Pnina Frankel 
Head, Communication and Cinema Department

Recently, the Massuah Institute for Holocaust Studies presented Orot Israel College with an award for its
“Moviemaking: History in the Making” project. The innovative pilot program combines history lessons with moviemaking and allows the student to act as researcher, director, producer, and editor and enjoy a unique multisensory learning experience.
The interdisciplinary project was launched by Orot’s communication and cinema department in conjunction with the history department. A series of short films (each three minutes long), which focus on dilemmas faced by the Jews in the pre-Holocaust era, was produced. After the history students researched the topics, wrote the scripts, and formulated the dilemmas while providing information about dress, settings, etc., the cinema students produced and shot the films. The result was five thoughtful, sensitive, and historically-accurate movies, which shed light on a difficult period and can be used as teaching aids during lessons about the pre-Holocaust era.
The citation accompanying the Massuah Institute award read, “We recognize the creative thinking and the unique pedagogic philosophy behind this project… The student who is exposed to these films will benefit from an educational experience that will contribute greatly to Holocaust study programs in our schools.”

Moreshet Yaakov Awarded Presidential Medal for Volunteerism

By Ofir Abicsis, Garin Ha'Torani, Oshiyot,Rechovot
Orot Israel College’s Moreshet Yaakov Garin Torani (educational core group) was selected from among hundreds of candidates to receive the prestigious Presidential Medal for Volunteerism. The annual prize is awarded by the President of the State of Israel for contributions to the State and Israeli society and is intended to foster values such as social activism, philanthropy, mutual responsibility, and love of the Land of Israel.
The award ceremony was held in the presence of Rav Professor Neria Guttel, President of Orot Israel College; Rav Chaim Saban, Orot’s vice president; and representatives of the garin. President Shimon Peres presented the medal to Rav Chaim Fogel, head of the garin.
Established in 5762 (2002), the garin is located in Rechovot’s Oshiyot neighborhood, which is part of the urban renewal project and largely populated by new immigrants from Ethiopia, Yemen, and other countries. The garin is comprised of Orot Israel College and Kollel Orot Yaakov graduates, who work as teachers during the day and organize various educational programs in the afternoons and evenings. In particular, garin members focus on disseminating Jewish values and culture, strengthening the local preschools, organizing children’s programming, running a learning center, reaching out to at-risk teenagers, organizing numerous chessed activities, supporting single mothers, and much more. For example, thanks to the garin’s highly-acclaimed “Sikun V’Sikui” project, which assists at-risk youth, neighborhood crime and high school truancy rates have decreased dramatically, and there has been a significant increase in motivation for military service.
Orot Israel College’s administration extends a hearty “yishar ko’ach” to the garin and its members on their wonderful achievements!

Bat Zion-MTA Reunion - May 2014

Over 120 alumnae and staff attended Orot's second Bat Zion- MTA reunion in Elkana. This special event was organized and planned by Nomi Spanglet, the former assistant director of the Bat Zion program. The event was a tribute to the many Bogrot of these 2 programs who have come on Aliyah, and who live the ideals that Orot so strongly believes in: Am Yisrael, Torat Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael. It was Orot's way of saying "we are proud of you and we are still here for you!". The evening started off with a buffet dinner, leaving time for the Bogrot to catch up with many old friends. Following dinner, words of welcome given by Nomi as well as short divrei torah given by Rav Yehuda Felix, the founder of Orot and Rabbis Moshe Rachimi and Rav Avram Weiss, both former directors of the BZ program.

The highlight of the evening was an educational panel with Rav Yona Goodman ( senior staff member at Orot) and Rav Gideon Weitzman (formerly a BZ staff member & presently a lecturer at several Midrashot, as well as serving as a Rav in Modiin). The panel was lead by Rav Reuven Spolter (head of recruitment for the College). The topic of the panel was "how to rekindle the flame". The panel was very inspiring and without any doubt gave food for thought to all those that attended.
I believe that the words of some of our Bogort best sum up this special event:
Thanks for organizing such an amazing reunion last night. It was so nice to see fellow bogrot, rabbanim, staff and madrichot. It just shows what an amazing program Bat Zion was and what an impact it had on all of our lives. It was so nice to be back on the Orot campus, and to see how the michlala is growing, it brought back so many wonderful memories. It is really touching to see that although the Bat Zion program no longer exists the michlala and you personally continues to maintain contact with the bogrot and are interested in what we are doing and where we are at in our lives.
hi nomi. i wanted to thank u so much for organising the amazing reunion. it was so good to see everyone again, you and all the teachers, (and the girls of course although we BH meet up often :) ) and it was so nice to be on the campus again. It really made me realise how much i miss it, and how Orot is such an amazing and special place and I'm so lucky to have been a part of that! Looking forward to the next reunion :)
Enclosed you will also find a slide show presentation of pictures taken at the reunion as well as a slide show of BZ that was prepared by Michal Katz Reinitz and shown at the reunion.

Enjoy the pictures and the memories!!