Actor Asi, Barkat, Yoram Biras, Rav Begun
Actor Asi, Barkat, Yoram Biras, Rav Begun Israel news photo: courtesy of Machon Meir

Elections are not in sight and yet politicians and public figures are making high-profile and inspiring visits to yeshivot around the country.

Two recent examples come to mind: Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat paid a visit to the Meir Institute for newly observant religious-Zionist Jews in Jerusalem – and to the institution’s Internet studios – and Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh and Modiin Mayor Chaim Bibas graced the study hall of the Meir Har’el Yeshivat Hesder in Modiin.

In Jerusalem this week, Mayor Barkat paid homage to the popular Machon Meir, its perpetually-smiling and optimistic Dean Rabbi Dov Begun, and to its on site Arutz Meir (Meir Channel) Internet studios.  Arutz Meir is responsible for possibly the most popular religious children’s show on Israeli Internet, namely, “Asi and Tuvia” – a series of shows chock-full of humor, values and high-quality acting.

Arutz Meir also broadcasts Torah classes and other programs of Jewish content 24 hours a day. “The Internet cannot be passed over,” said Rabbi Begun, “and we must use it to strengthen the People of Israel.”

After meeting with students from Israel and around the world and asking them to remain in Jerusalem when they complete their studies, Barkat spoke in the study hall and said, “Machon Meir is one of the sub-trademarks of the city of Jerusalem, and something that gives this city strength… We have many challenges here; there is no other city in the world that is so important to so many people. Everything that happens here is examined by the entire world with a giant magnifying glass.”

Later on this week, the hesder yeshiva in Modiin commemorated its fifth “graduating class” as another cycle of students completed their current round of studies and began their army service. The yeshiva has a unique six-year track, wherein the dozens of other hesder yeshivot have five-year programs.

The ceremony featured the conclusion of study of several Talmudic tractates, including the difficult tractate K’tuvot.

Brig.-Gen. Naveh, an observant Jew, told the students that it is critical for them as religious soldiers with important values to strive to reach command positions. “It’s more vital for you to serve in [and lead] the various battalions than to be in elite commando units,” he said. “This will be your most important contribution.”

The ceremony ended with the awarding of the book “Army and Yeshiva,” by yeshiva head Rabbi Eliezer Chaim Shenvald, as well as a pamphlet of articles written by the students themselves, to the soon-to-be soldiers.

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