Torah Learning in a Hesder Yeshiva
In Israel today you can find somewhere between 50 – 70 different Yeshivot Hesder. All of them offer Torah learning on a high level just like any Yeshiva in Israel. The main focus is on Talmudic studies and Jewish Law (halacha). But many Yeshivot Hesder also put extra emphasize on Tanach studies and Jewish moral and ethics. What separates a Hesder Yeshiva from other Yeshivot is the unique Hesder program that is available. A Hesder program is a special program where religious young men combine yeshiva studies and active army service. This is a five-years-long program where the students spend about 18 months in active army service and 42 months in the Yeshiva.
Torah Learning to become a Rabbi
A number of Hesder Yeshivot offers their students a learning program called Smicha-program which is a preparation program for the “Semicha of the Rabbanut”. Semicha of the Rabbanut is many different exams that you have to pass to become a “Certified” Rabbi from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. Usually, this program is for married students in the Hesder Yeshiva after they finish their active army service. They are part of the Kollel, and it is very common that they receive a stipend when they are learning in the Smicha program. To learn all material for the Rabbanut tests takes many years, so many of the students spend up to 7 – 10 years in Yeshiva before receiving Smicha from the Rabbanut. Many of the Rabbinical students also receive a teaching certificate from a teachers’ institute recognized by the Ministry of Education.
Torah Learning in English
Many Yeshivot Hesder offers Torah Learning in English. The English programs are separate from the regular Hesder program and often it is not very much interaction between the Israeli students and the students from abroad. The Rabbis and other teachers involved with the overseas students are usually only English speakers, but some Yeshivot makes an extra effort to even teach Torah in Hebrew to students from abroad. Some Yeshivot do make a great effort to make sure that the overseas students have a learning session (chavruta) with an Israeli student at least a couple of times a week. Most yeshivot also offer Hebrew language classes several times a week for the students to pick up basic spoken Hebrew. This is also one of the requirements of MASA. Several yeshivot even offer a 2nd-year program for English speakers if they can´t integrate into the regular Hesder program.