Yossi BaumolYossi Baumol is the Director of American Friends of Sderot.
The Sderot Hesder Yeshiva reaches out to the entire Sderot area all the time, but this is especially inspiring to see during Operation Pillar of Defense.
After the attacks began on Sderot years ago, good Jews from around the world joined together with various government agencies to help build one of the most beautiful campuses in Israel – and the only one which is entirely rocket-proof!
During the present emergency, this investment is now proving itself. As opposed to many other institutions, including the neighboring Sapir College, the Sderot Hesder Yeshiva can remain open and is working around the clock as a source of strength, inspiration and assistance to the entire region:
Yeshiva students visit, help and cheer up local families and dance in the streets.
In fact, at the request of the director of Sderot municipal volunteer services, the Yeshiva has been operating as the “war room” and center for all emergency volunteer services in Sderot.
Israel's television came down south and showed the entire country how it is done.
In addition to running the center, the boys take on new volunteer jobs daily. For example, yesterday, the Yeshiva students distributed vibrating beepers to Sderot's hard of hearing.
Today they will be taking groups of children to the Armored JNF Indoor Play Center.
Yeshiva students serve as active volunteers in Sderot’s local emergency first response teams.
The Yeshiva runs a Golden Agers' Kollel which is now expanding its activities, providing Torah classes and a hot meal for Sderot’s senior citizens,
Soldiers stationed in the area are treated to surprise solidarity visits and “care” packages,
Volunteers who come to Sderot and IDF reservists on their way to the Gaza area get a good night’s sleep in the Yeshiva’s fully protected dormitories,
Torah study has been boosted in the Yeshiva, going on around the clock 24/7 in shifts in solidarity with the IDF and residents of the South
And - This is all going on while many of the Rabbis, Kollel men, staff and students have been drafted into emergency IDF service!
The Sderot Yeshiva has two satellite branches – one is “Yeshivat Lev LaDaat”, also situated in Sderot. The other one – “Yeshivat Derech Chayim” is located Kiryat Gat. Together they comprise Israel’s largest Hesder Yeshiva with over 700 students.
Lev LaDaat has a newly dedicated armored dormitory, but no armored study hall.
The Kiryat Gat “Derech Chaim” branch–- is located in ramshackle temporary huts with no bomb shelters whatsoever. In what some may see as an almost bizarre decision the Kiryat Gat branch was evacuated literally to the “eye of the storm” – to the main campus in Sderot where all the buildings are armored!
The Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Duv Fendel, recipient of the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism, and who was born and raised in Long Island, NY, feels that this is the time to redouble our resolve and move forward. "The true answer to terrorism is continued construction - building the Torah, strengthening Am Yisrael and our faith and trust in Hashem and building bridges to the entire State of Israel by active participation in all official bodies and efforts to defend Eretz Yisrael", told reporters.
The Yeshiva has spearheaded the construction of the Sderot Heritage Center which recently received recognition as an official national Heritage site and is also putting up a Sports Center for the Yeshiva as well as the “Lev LaDaat” Study Hall and the “Derech Chayim” dormitory building.