For the week ending 1 July 2017 / 7 Tammuz 5777

A Brief History of Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem

by Rabbi Shlomo Simon
Library Library Library

In 1972 a group of young and experienced educators from the United States founded Yeshivat Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem. Deeply troubled by the vast number of Jews who were growing up with little or no knowledge of their unique heritage, these dedicated scholars sought to refasten the bonds of knowledge that unite Jews across time and space. They knew that the beauty and truth of Torah study that has united and inspired Jews throughout the ages would rekindle the interest and excitement of a generation of lost souls who grew up in a material, Western culture, without any knowledge of their heritage.

They created a school to stimulate bright young minds with the collected wisdom of three thousand years in a format geared for students of contemporary higher education. From modest origins, an unheated rented room, with no dining facilities, blossomed an institution for the intellectually sophisticated newcomer to Jewish thought and learning, teaching the age-old philosophy of the Jewish People, brought forward into today’s turbulent world.

In 1977, with the building expertise, financial support and guiding hand of Mr. Joseph Tanenbaum, zatzal, of Toronto, the Yeshiva built its large and beautiful new campus at its present location in the Maalot Dafne neighborhood of Jerusalem.

For more than four decades, Ohr Somayach has been bridging not only the generations, but the nations of the world as well. It has launched over twenty schools and programs in Israel and the Diaspora, and has operated outreach operations in more than a dozen cities on five continents.

Through the Ohr LaGolah Program of the Hertz Institute, we have trained hundreds of educators, spiritual leaders and outreach experts who serve communities throughout the world, and are ensuring that there will be Jewish continuity.

Today the Yeshiva has over 400 full-time students and hundreds more participating in short-term programs. We also run seminars throughout the world, attracting thousands of participants every year. Our highly professional staff includes former professors at major universities and the best and brightest talmidei chachamim (Torah scholars).

Educational Departments of Ohr Somayach

Glassman Jewish Learning Exchange (JLE) - A two-week summer and winter program. It combines extensive touring of Israel (both on and off the beaten track) and classes by our highly acclaimed staff, concentrating on what it means to be Jewish.

Mechina - The renowned introductory program of Ohr Somayach, geared for college age/young adults, is multi-leveled and combines classes on Jewish philosophy, Torah text and Jewish living with hands-on Talmud learning. With both short and long-term learning options available, students can join at any time.

jInternship - jInternship is a unique opportunity to develop Jewish identity and knowledge (in the Mechina program) together with exciting work experience in top Israeli businesses, high tech, and social services.

Yesod Chai Israel - Yesod Chai Israel is a unique post-high school opportunity that combines thought-provoking classes, challenging internships, exciting excursions, Israeli culture and meaningful experiences — in a comfortable Jewish atmosphere.

The Center for Torah Studies - A one-year program for college graduates or students who are committed to mitzvah observance and are seeking a deeper understanding of Judaism, and who have a strong will to become independent in textual understanding before returning to their careers or general studies.

Derech Institute - A one-year program for post-high school students who are committed to mitzvah observance and are interested in becoming independent in Talmud skills and dealing with basic issues of Judaism.

Intermediate Beit Midrash - For graduates of the Mechina program or for new students who are committed to observance of mitzvot, and who are interested in increasing their learning skills.

Main Beit Midrash - For graduates of the Intermediate, Derech and Center Programs, or for new, advanced students, who are seriously committed to growth in learning and Judaism.

Ohr LaGolah Hertz Institute for International Teacher Training - A two-year Kollel and leadership training program for advanced students who either have rabbinic ordination, are candidates for semicha, or are advanced students who want to receive a teaching degree granted by the State of Israel Ministry of Education, or who wish to go into professional outreach work.

Executive Renewal Program - Take time for yourself and come learn in Jerusalem. The Executive Renewal Program is for busy achievers and is available with a men’s and women's program.

Mentor Missions - A program designed for business executives and professionals to mentor JLE students in Israel and when they return to their respective universities.

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