The "Mordechai Hatzaddik" Yeshiva

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Yeshivat Mordechai HaTzaddik [Mordechai the Righteous] has no building, no permanent staff, no curriculum, and no set student body - yet it has been called "the most successful idea for fostering Torah learning since Daf Yomi [the daily page of Talmud studied all over the world until the Talmud is completed every 7.5 years]." The upcoming "Purim edition" of the yeshiva is expected to draw 50,000 children in Israel alone.

The basis of Yeshivat Mordechai HaTzaddik is the famed "Avot U'Vanim" [Fathers and Sons] weekly learning program, which features fathers and sons meeting every Shabbat in a central location for an hour of Torah study. Some 680 branches already exist in Israel, as well as another 250 in other parts of the world. Some local branches have developed their own "Imahot U'Vanot" [Mothers and Daughters] programs as well.

The program is largely based on incentives and prizes. "After all is said and done," Rabbi Naftoli Meir Falk, the "Rosh Yeshiva" [Dean] of Mordechai HaTzaddik, told Yated Ne'eman newspaper, "children are children. They have to be treated accordingly, using methods that draw their interest." Everyone emerges rewarded, the program's promotional literature states: "The fathers take a pro-active role in their children's education, and the boys are delighted with their treats and the undivided attention they have received." Among the benefits are: fulfillment of the cardinal Biblical commandment of Torah study; increased energy and excitement in Torah study; healthy bonding between parents and children; unity among Jews; and more. A central Jerusalem office, manned by volunteers, is in charge of publicity, founding new branches, recruiting local leaders, assisting branches in hardship, developing the agenda, providing the prizes, and more.

The most recent branch to join up is in Eilat, where 80 children rush to a neighborhood synagogue to learn with their fathers each week. "Probably unheard of in the annals of Jewish history," say the organizers, "Avot U'Vanim is teaching and touching two generations simultaneously." For more information, write to "avot@zahav.net.il".



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