TORAH AFTER ARMY
Presentation about Tora After Army
Rav Ilan Zipory - Head of the Torah After Army Organization
:About The Organization
What is a Torah After Army Center?
The Torah After Army Center is a Beit Medrash in every way, but it operates in the afternoon and evening hours to allow the students to combine Torah with academic studies or work. The learning program was developed on this basis in order to accommodate these needs.
Who takes part in your program
Actually every one who finished the army, even some years ago, and is interested in combining Torah with his other occupations, will find his place in our program. We see boys from every background – those who studied in “Hesder’ programs, those who went to one-year pre-army yeshiva preparatory programs, and those who went straight from high school to regular army service. Some are already a number of years post-army and quite settled in life. Career soldiers from bases near the Beit Medrash have also joined us. Actually, the uniqueness of our program is that it tries to combine all these boys from differing backgrounds under one roof.
What is the ‘Torah after Army’ organization that we’ve been hearing about from so many different sources
This organization has taken upon itself to try and awaken and strengthen the goal of combining Torah study along with practical living. It was established on the basis of experience in teaching former soldiers. It began a few years back in Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva, where a class was opened for discharged soldiers who combined learning with working as security guards. After 2 years we were sent to establish a similar program in Sansana. After about a year, we came to the conclusion that, for practical reasons, it would be better to establish the program in the Tel Aviv area. We found our place in an excellent Yeshiva that provides a holy environment for our students.
After a year and a half, we decided to establish similar centers in Rishon Letziyon, Petah Tikva, Kfar Saba, Natania. Others have also requested that we establish similar programs in their areas, such as, Haifa, Ramat Gan, Beersheva, etc. Our goal now is to expand these centers as much as possible so as to bring Torah to ex-soldiers as close to their homes as possible. We hope in this way to provide an answer to their desire to combine Torah with other activities. We are also trying to combine all the programs in Israel that are geared to soldiers after army service.
?I understand that you are creating a new entity, literally something out of nothing
Almost. We are actually working to increase the awareness of the need for a program like ours. According to the information that we have, about 90% of former soldiers are not involved in any torah learning program of any form. If we compare this to the situation pre-army we can understand the problem: 44% of the religious youth attend some pre-army torah program!
We understood that we have to start a new movement that will attract these boys after their army service to return to the Beit Medrash for a certain period, with the expectation that through this they will continue in the future to place Torah studies at the center of their lives in every situation, at work or university. A religious boy who does not find the way to combine torah with his other interests in life will slowly distance himself from torah studies. This will weaken religious Zionism, and in its wake, the country as a whole. This would be a great loss, since we’re speaking of men aged 21-35 – a fateful age in a young man’s life. At this age a man begins to search for direction in his personal life - he marries, builds a family, and develops a business or academic career. It is unfortunate that just at this age, when they begin to have great influence on society, that they are not involved in Torah studies. We are trying to change this situation by showing that there is no contradiction between the productive life we lead in society, and between placing Torah at the center of that life. We hope this will have a positive effect on all aspects of Israeli society, whether it’s in the arts, sciences, industry or government. The nation will thus be strengthened.
How is the learning program organized
The program is based on the principle that we have to preserve the high quality of yeshiva learning while adapting it to the students who can’t sit all day preparing for class. That means that the program is meant to provide high quality learning even for those who have limited time. It is well known that those who want to succeed in Torah learning have to devote many hours to it. We’ve therefore developed a system which combines printed notes of programmed learning along with dynamic interaction in learning group. Extensive study is thus achieved in Talmud, halacha, tanach, and faith. Our experience has shown that it is thus possible to achieve success in intensive study without extensive previous preparation. Even if the student has missed a few days of learning, we have found that he is able to keep up with the group.
Learning is in an informal atmosphere. One of the innovations is that learning is ‘for its own sake’. These boys come to learn out of their own free will, and not because of family or any other external pressures.
I invite anyone who feels that he belongs to simply join us. For information: 02-6511256