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October 24, 2014 / 30 Tishri, 5775
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Aliyah in the National Religious Path

"We very strongly identify with the Aseh Chayil National Religious and Modern Orthodox ideology."

The "Cheder Tanach" (Bible Room) at Aseh Chayil School in Efrat. Parents identify with the school's National Religious and Modern Orthodox ideology, and its allegiance to the old-time HaPoel HaMizrachi path.

The "Cheder Tanach" (Bible Room) at Aseh Chayil School in Efrat. Parents identify with the school's National Religious and Modern Orthodox ideology, and its allegiance to the old-time HaPoel HaMizrachi path.
Photo Credit: Dina Mann

Dina: After serving in the Army, going to university at Bar Ilan, a year as a Bruria Scholar at Midreshet Lindenbaum, and then living and working for a few years in the Katamon singles “swamp”, when I was almost 28, I married Dave.

We both work in the computer/High Tech industry. Dave works in software quality assurance for IBM, and I work in software development for a government office.

We have 4 children. They would want to be mentioned by name, so here goes: Meirav, a girl – 12; Yonah, a boy – 10; Yechiel, a boy – almost 9; Avigayil, a girl – 6.

V: Why did you decide to send your kids to Aseh Chayil?

Dina: We send our 4 children to Aseh Chayil for a combination of reasons.

We very strongly identify with its National Religious and Modern Orthodox ideology. We admire its steady allegiance to the old-time HaPoel HaMizrachi path. We are proud of the mix of families from various walks of religious life that feel at home and welcome in the school.

We choose to send our children to school in a co-ed environment. Classes are co-ed through fourth grade, and the campus as a whole is co-ed. We believe this to be the healthiest environment in which to raise our children.

Aseh Chayil has been recognized for excellence (and received two national awards to that effect in the past 10 years) not only for its academic success, but mainly for its unique educational philosophy, and its successful implementation. Aseh Chayil has always been open to all! Almost from inception it has welcomed special education classes, and has made a point of integrating these classes, and their students as individuals, as much as possible into the mainstream classes. But even beyond that – Aseh Chayil does its utmost to provide for the unique needs of every child of varying educational needs and learning styles within regular classes. Granted – resources are much more limited than the needs, but that is where my attempt to help with fundraising also comes in.

Aseh Chayil’s recognition of excellence was awarded also due to its hands-on experience-centered learning strategy, especially as applied to religious studies. The school features a Tanach Room, in which settings from the Bible being studied by the students are erected and brought to life. The children dress up in costumes from the era studied and study in hands-on, 3D, interactive learning centers.

In classes in the regular classroom, creative writing and acting assignments related to the material in Mishna or Torah aim to provide the students a strong emotional connection to the personalities and values being studied. The school also features an exhibit of 1.5 million buttons the students collected to try to grasp and connect to the stories of children killed in the Holocaust. An interactive Holocaust study center features suitcases of artifacts and individual stories of children lost in the Holocaust. We chose Aseh Chayil for its educational innovation and its goal of personalizing the learning experience and the values it teaches.

We also chose Aseh Chayil due to its academic excellence, in both secular and religious studies. It is considered a top elementary school in the region, whose graduates are very highly sought by the high schools in the area.

V: I know you’re active in your children’s school, Aseh Chayil. Can you tell me your exact position and how long you’ve held this position? Why do you remain so active in your children’s school?

Dina: I serve as chairman of the board of a non-profit organization named Chayil B’Efrata, a parents association, whose main goal is to raise funds for extra and special activities and services in the school. We assist the Aseh Chayil School in providing for the welfare of the students attending the school – both physically and educationally. The organization achieves these aims by mobilizing parent volunteers and raising funds. Spending priorities, goals and special projects to benefit the school are identified and planned in cooperation with the school administration. I’ve served as chairman of the board for about 5 years.

About the Author: Blogger and mother of 12 Varda Meyers Epstein is a third-generation Pittsburgher who made aliyah at age 18 and never looked back. A proud settler who lives in the biblical Judean heartland, Varda serves as the communications writer for the nonprofit car donation program, Kars for Kids.


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5 Responses to “Aliyah in the National Religious Path”

  1. Yechiel Baum says:

    When the Jewish Agency unified all Zionist organziations, Aliyah rates by religious Zionists such as Bnei Akiva was relevant. Now the only religious olehs are those who come to live on Israeli welfare and not serve the country and its holy army, hiding behind a wealthy rebbe in a fake yeshiva.

  2. Wow. That's a nasty comment.

  3. Drora Bat Melech says:

    Yechiel, I don't really know where you get your information about new olim … I am a toshevet chozeret while my husband and kids are Olim Chadashim. My oldest came just a year ago to Israel with no Hebrew and now he is serving in a special tactical unit in Givaati .We do not hide behind any wealthy rebbe since most are pretty poor.. ….my other son (15) goes to yeshiva and works as a gardener, dog walker, snow shoveller and a kidsitter, in his spare time.

  4. Drora Bat Melech you go, Girl. When are we gonna have that coffee?

  5. Drora Bat Melech says:

    Varda Epstein soon… now that the snow is melting… :)

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