New Roshei Yeshiva Spread Message of Ohr Torah Stone
Ohr Torah Stone’s institutions emphasize both the eternality and centrality of Torah and Jewish tradition, alongside the importance of addressing contemporary challenges and opportunities. The two new Roshei Yeshiva of the Robert M. Beren Machanaim Hesder Yeshiva, Rabbi Yossi Froman and Rabbi Sarel Rosenblatt, celebrate this message as they discuss what makes the yeshiva unique and share their vision going forward.
Ohr Torah Stone is delighted to announce the appointment of Rabbi Yossi Froman and Rabbi Sarel Rosenblatt as the new Roshei Yeshiva of the Robert M. Beren Machanaim Hesder Yeshiva.
Both Rabbi Froman and Rabbi Rosenblatt are longtime, beloved features of Yeshivat Machanaim, having performed as Ramim (senior Rabbinic educators) at the yeshiva for many years. Both serve as community rabbis as well; Rabbi Froman leads the “Bet” neighborhood in his hometown of Tekoa, while Rabbi Rosenblatt is rabbi of the Rimon Community in Efrat.
Together, in their new roles, the pair is responsible for the hesder yeshiva program, as well as for all other programs housed at the Beren Academic Center, including the Joseph and Gwendolyn Straus Rabbinical Seminary.
How would you characterize Yeshivat Machanaim?
Rabbi Rosenblatt: “Machanaim encourages people to grow in their Torah learning and commitment, and to relate this learning and commitment to the rest of their lives. It’s a very intellectual environment, while also emphasizing the spiritual side of Judaism.
Rabbi Froman: “In much of the religious world there is a dichotomy. People are either very connected to Torah and very closed off to the rest of the world – worrying that allowing other knowledge or thoughts in weakens their religious world – or they are very open, and religion is just another aspect of their lives – but not the center.
We believe Torah can be both very serious and open to interaction with the rest of our lives. It doesn’t have to be and it shouldn’t be one or the other.”
How does this interaction between Torah and the rest of our lives, between the intellectual and the spiritual, express itself at the yeshiva?
Rabbi Froman: “We may be the only yeshiva in the world that has an exercise room and a mikvah in the same building. And our building itself is very beautiful. We believe in the importance of paying attention to the needs of the body and also to the needs of the nefesh [the soul].”
Rabbi Rosenblatt: “The students approach learning from a very high intellectual level. Philosophically, we believe in including general academic knowledge as part of the curriculum. Through the Monique and Mordecai Katz Academic Program, we offer classes on everything from Philosophy to Political Science, and these concepts enter into our conversations in the beit midrash, as well.
The staff has a very broad vision and broad knowledge. All of the rabbis have a university degree in addition to their rabbinic ordination, and most have graduate degrees as well. At the same time, the world of Hassidut influences the environment. Students experience Torah that is interesting, alive, and where Avodat Hashem is done through both the intellectual and the spiritual realms, with simcha [joy]!”
What would you say is unique about Yeshivat Machanaim?
Rabbi Rosenblatt: “In addition to the combination of the intellectual and the spiritual within an atmosphere of openness, I think the Joseph and Gwendolyn Straus Rabbinic Seminaryis unique in Israel.
“In addition to providing students with a deep knowledge of halakha, the Straus Seminary also emphasizes rabbinic and communal leadership skills. All of the rabbis who teach in the program have roles as community rabbis. This experience impacts how they understand the connection of Jews to Torah, and what it means to give a ruling in response to someone’s practical question.
:Our students need to have emotional intelligence – to not only understand the halakha, but to also understand how it relates to people. They need to be able to relate to people in many different situations.”
Rabbi Froman: “In addition, although we are an Israeli yeshiva, we are also concerned about Judaism in the Diaspora, which is why we have a special rabbinic training program specifically geared towards training rabbis to work in worldwide Jewish communities.”
What’s your vision going forward?
Rabbi Froman: “We aim to promote Torah that that is rooted and strong, yet flexible and able to respond to real life. We need to show people how relevant Torah is to their lives, how meaningful it is.”
Rabbi Rosenblatt: “The world is changing all the time and many people in the religious world are afraid. They feel threatened, and they build higher and higher walls as a response to their fear.
We hear militant voices in the political and social realms from rabbis, political leaders, and social activists, and it’s not healthy. We need to be both sensitive and confident, idealistic but not ideologues, connected to the heartbeat of the Jewish world.”
Rabbi Froman: “We want to grow our student body, spread our Torah and increase Hashem’s voice in the world.”