Calcalist, an Israeli daily newspaper and website, has named Rabbi Betzalel Cohen, the founder and principal of Hachmey Lev Yeshiva High School and Residence, to its annual list of the top 100 global influences. Rabbi Cohen ranked 92nd. President Donald Trump of the United States ranked #1 and President Reuven Rivlin of Israel #100. For the full Calcalist article, in Hebrew, click here.
Hachmey Lev Yeshiva High School and Residence, part of the network of 15 secondary schools and residences run by the Society for Advancement of Education, Jerusalem, offers a curriculum with both traditional Jewish studies and general core subjects to Haredi boys. In the first two graduating classes over 90% of the students passed the Israeli matriculation examinations (versus about 50% for all Israelis).
“Bezalel Cohen,” the 1,000-word article proclaims at the outset, “apparently the greatest of the ultra-Orthodox revolutionaries of our generation, says that the ultra-Orthodox world has two options: Either a new rabbinic leadership will emerge and offer new solutions to those who do not find their place in the existing society; Or we will see a wave of people turning away from religion.” According to him, this will come from among the hard-core ultra-Orthodox.
“Cohen,” the Calcalist states, “believes that the change in Haredi society is already here, but it is inter-generational. According to him, most of the centers of power are in the hands of the 40 plus – so that the change in the power pyramid should grow from the bottom. ‘The [print] media is for the elderly. The young people read the websites. The sites are changing the Haredim. We will not change the adults – and we will not wait for their children. Therefore, it is necessary to establish centers of power for young people‘”.
The article goes on to say that “Cohen admits that the number of institutions that teach secular studies is not yet large, and explains that what is needed is to establish new schools within the framework of the ultra-Orthodox state system .On the other hand, Cohen says, there is a growing demand for educational institutions with core studies. “Everyone who has gone to the army, academic studies and work, wants to send their children to places with core studies, and I believe that if they establish educational institutions with core studies, the demand will increase.”
“Cohen’s goal,” the article asserts, “is educational independence from the ultra-Orthodox establishment, which will free the new Haredim from dependence on the veteran Haredi society. According to him, it is like energy independence. “Our oil is educational institutions, and if the new Haredim manage to organize themselves as a party and establish educational institutions, there is nothing to threaten us, we will be much less vulnerable,” he says from personal experience, “what is frightening is that the children stay at home.”
For the full Calcalist article, in Hebrew, click here.
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