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Yeshivat Derech Chaim, Kiryat Gat

In 5767, the Yeshiva launched a new project in the city of Kiryat Gat: A special kiruv Yeshiva, targeting graduates of religious high schools in the south of the country.  The Kiryat Gat Yeshiva was set up on the model of the other Shlucha (Branch) in Sderot, Yeshivat Lev Lada’at.  The reasoning behind the Branch is that there are hundreds of religious high school graduates in the region lacking an appropriate religious setting for the period following high school graduation until the beginning of their service in the Israel Defense Forces.  Since they are unprepared to enter regular Hesder Yeshivot, many of the young men from religious and traditional homes go straight into the army without sufficient spiritual preparation.

Thank G-d, the Branch, which we opened in Sderot six years ago continues to grow and thrive, with currently over 100 students and dozens more serving in the army.  The Shlucha has become a trend-setting model with similar institutions springing up based on its successful system.  We are optimistic that we will be able to achieve this level of success with our new Kiryat Gat Branch.
 
The students at Kiryat Gat will pursue the regular Hesder plan: A year and a half of study, followed by a year and a half of in the army and then two more years of Yeshiva study.

Kiryat Gat is a city about half an hour away from Sderot, in the Lachish region. It has a population of over 50,000 and is relatively large and cosmopolitan for the south of Israel.  However, despite its size, it lacked a Yeshivat Hesder.

We began the academic year in Kiryat Gat with 30 new first year students (a very large number for a brand new Yeshiva!). They live on a spacious, new campus where they are joined by a number of older students from the main Yeshiva in Sderot.  These young men have come to study with the new students during the early part of the academic year to help ease their transition into the world of Yeshiva and Torah study.

Some of the new students come from backgrounds that are quite distant from that world (a few even arrived without kippot!), and they are slowly developing their religious identities.  A moving moment occurred during the first Shabbat of the semester.  Rabbi Meir Goldvicht, Shlita of Yeshiva University, who was visiting Kiryat Gat, visited the new Yeshiva, where he met with the students.  One student approached him and explained that he had decided to totally dedicate himself to Torah study.

Six of the new students previously attended the religious high school in Sderot.  During those years they studied several times a week with kollel students from the Sderot Hesder Yeshiva, and they have now chosen to continue their studies the religious setting of the new Yeshiva in Kiryat Gat.

Due to the unique nature of the program, a variety of activities are planned for the students; during the second week in the semester the students and their Rabbis went on a two day trip to the North.  In addition, the students conduct training exercises several times a week as part of their preparation for service in the Israel Defense Forces.

The staff of lecturers and kollel members is made up primarily of former students of the Sderot Yeshiva.  The Kiryat Gat Branch is headed by Rabbi Amir Maman.  Rav Amir, who was born and raised in Kiryat Gat, has over the years studied in Yeshiva, married and been blessed with four children. He is now completing the circle with his return.

The establishment of a Torah institution in Kiryat Gat fulfills a dream of many local people.  Rav Amir speaks enthusiastically about his work with the new students: “They have great potential and spirit along with a strong will to advance in their studies.  There is a large population here that, until now, had no appropriate address for their religious needs.”  He adds “With G-d’s help, we hope to bring the unique atmosphere of the Sderot Yeshiva to Kiryat Gat.”

Another Torah institution for the South of Israel!