President Reuven Rivlin opens new year at OTS 

Elul Zman at the Robert M. Beren Machanaim Hesder Yeshiva, in memory of Dvir Sorek Hy”d

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Israeli President Reuven Rivlin
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin opened the new school year at the Robert M. Beren Machanaim Hesder Yeshiva, in which Dvir Sorek Hy’d was a student.

Rivlin came to address the students and faculty of the yeshiva on September 1st – which coincided this year with Rosh Chodesh Elul – and to bring words of comfort and strength.  Also present were OTS President and Rosh HaYeshiva Rabbi Kenneth Brander who also addressed those present; OTS Founder and Chancellor Emeritus Rabbi Shlomo Riskin; Rosh Yeshiva of the Robert M. Beren Machanaim Hesder Yeshiva, Rabbi Shlomo Vilk; Gush Etzion Mayor Shlomo Neeman; and others.

Photo credit: Mark Neiman | GPO

“Today, on Rosh Chodesh Elul, a tremendous sound exudes from the study halls in Israel and throughout the world – a sound that shakes the hearts,” said President Rivlin.  “But here, in the Robert M. Beren Machanaim Hesder Yeshiva, we do not need that cry. Our hearts are still screaming the absence of Dvir Sorek, Hy’d. We feel his loss in our souls, in our hearts.

“The radiance of Dvir’s personality captured the hearts of everyone: a 19-year-old yeshiva student about to enlist in the IDF who buys David Grossman’s latest book for his rabbi,” Rivlin continued. “One of the finest young men of this good land, whose grandfather Rabbi Binyamin Herling was murdered by terrorists in Samaria, and who was active in bringing together Arab and Jewish youth in this area. A symbol of hope and faith and breadth of opinion.” 

Rabbi Riskin and President Rivlin
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and President Rivlin 

Rivlin maintained that “it is the responsibility of Israel’s leaders to support the IDF and the security forces so that the area here in Judea and Samaria and throughout the State of Israel will be a safe space. A space where a girl can go with her family to dip in the natural springs, where a boy can return to his yeshiva and walk without fear.  We do not discharge ourselves from this responsibility.

“But Dvir sent us on a mission with greater responsibility, with another will. A will for discourse and connection between the various tribes and the different movements within the nation of Israel. As the elections approach, when passions are raised and the discourse coarsens, I implore you not to believe the incitement and the personal attacks. Do not listen to the voices that are eager to radicalize the discourse, to the Right or to the Left. Take responsibility for our ‘unity’ because this ‘unity’ is our only guarantee of our strength and is the best guarantee for our safety.”

President Rivlin and Rabbi Brander
President Rivlin and Rabbi Brander

Ohr Torah Stone President and Rosh HaYeshiva, Rabbi Kenneth Brander, spoke on behalf of the OTS network and students when he said, “Today, standing here as a Jew, as an Israeli, as a new oleh able to actualize the 2000 year old dream of living in Israel , and as a citizen of the world, I would like say: The terrorists tried to break our spirit – yet we are here to begin the Elul Zman. As the People of Israel have done throughout history, we state clearly that the enemy will not triumph. 

Rabbi Shlomo Vilk
Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Shlomo Vilk

“While we mourn our brothers and sisters who have been attacked or murdered, we stand as proof that the Nation of Israel is eternal,” he declared. “We continue to study Torah; we continue to raise the banner of ethics and morality among the nations of the world.  We will continue to act out of love for all rather than hate and we maintain our belief that there is goodness in the world and we have the potential to bring that goodness into being.” (Read Rabbi Brander’s remarks in full)

Rosh Yeshiva of the Robert M. Beren Machanaim Hesder Yeshiva Rabbi Shlomo Vilk acknowledged, “We would have preferred not to open the school year this way, but instead with the joy and frenzy that accompanies the beginning of the year. But in light of the terrible tragedy that befell us, we have merited to have the President of Israel come to strengthen us and offer a prayer that the cursed year has ended and the year of blessings is beginning.”

Photo credits: Gershon Ellinson | Video: Dovi Shamroth


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