Introduction to Hesder

Hesder and Yeshiva Hesder

Hesder is a unique program in Israel where religious boys have the option to combine their Army Service with Yeshiva studies. This is very common and accepted among Zionistic Jews but it doesn´t exist in the Haredi world. The first Hesder Yeshiva was Yeshivat Kerem B´Yavne established is 1953 and since then 10th of Yeshivot Hesder has been established in across the whole country. From Kiryat Shmona in the north to Eilat in the south. Today you have somewhere between 50 – 70 active Hesder Yeshivot.
In 1991 the Hesder yeshiva program was awarded the Israel Prize for its unique contribution to society and the State of Israel.

How the Hesder program work

In most Yeshivot Hesder, the Hesder you have signed up for a five-year program. During this time, about 16 – 18 months are actually active Army service and the rest is dedicated to intensive Torah studies. Usually, you first learn between 1 – 2 years in Yeshiva before entering the army. Even after you finish his active army service, you are still considered a soldier and will first be dismissed when your five years Hesder program ends. In case you get married during this time, you may be dismissed earlier. If you start Hesder in one specific Hesder Yeshiva it can be complicated if you would like to change Yeshiva at some point during the 5 years.

Hesder Yeshiva Program

Hesder Yeshiva Program differentiates in learning from many other Yeshivot. The main focus is still Talmudic studies, but you will also find a great emphasize on studies of Tanach and Jewish Philosophy.

A number om Hesder Yeshivot also offer unique programs for non-Israeli students who want to learn in Yeshiva and also do the Army. This program is called Hesder Machal and is usually two years. In this program, the student is in the army for 9 months and the rest of the time learn in Yeshiva.

Kollel in Hesder Yeshiva

It is common that a Yeshiva Hesder also supports Kollel for married students. A married Yeshiva student is called an Avrech. It is common to pay an Avrech a stipend during his studies, but it cannot be considered a salary. It is also common for a Kollel to offer a program to study to become a Rabbi. This program is called Smicha-program and is a preparation for the “Semicha of the Rabbanut”. A great number of Yeshivot also offer a teacher certification program in association with different teachers’ institutes.
Many of the Rabbinical students at a Hesder Kollel do publishTorah online for the public to take part in.

Student body Hesder Yeshivot

The number of students in a Hesder Yeshiva ranges from less than 100 to more than 500. This doesn´t include the students that currently is in the army. This doesn’t mean that a smaller yeshiva is less popular or the opposite since all Yeshivot has its own approach and goals. Many students like very much the uniqueness of the Torah of Hevron and are therfor learning in Yeshivat Shavei Hevron. The student body has grown from 10 students in 1981 to more than 300 today. Except that Shavei Hevron also has more than 3000 graduates that are spreading the Torah of Hevron in Israel and abroad.

Popular Yeshivot Hesder

The actual number of Yeshivot Hesder changes from year to year. Most years you can find new Yeshivot in the Hesder framework. Also, nearly every year Hesder programs have to close down.  Here below is a list of some of the more popular yeshivot in the Hesder framework:

  • Yeshivat Kerem B´Yavne
  • Yeshivat HaKotel
  • Yeshivat HarEtzion
  • Yeshivat Nir Kiryat Arba
  • Yeshivat Otniel
  • Yeshivat Netzer Mattei
  • Yeshivat Ramat Hasharon
  • Yeshivat HaGolan

In total some 9000 – 10 000 students are enrolled in different Hesder programs.