Twenty-two years after the initiation of the pre-military yeshiva preparatory course, Bnei David, that contributed to the integration of thousands of kippah-wearers into the highest IDF command posts, Rabbi Eli Sadan officially consecrated the continuation program that will see to the integration of its graduates into key positions in civilian life.
Some three years after its inception, the post-military yeshiva entered its permanent campus in the West Bank settlement Eli. The institute's goal is to nurture people of faith into practical professions through in-depth learning of questions raised in current Israeli society with an emphasis on responsibility for and involvement in it.
A decade ago, the post-military course was initiated in Eli. It was then called the "life preparatory course." Over time, it combined with a full-time institute for advanced Jewish study, or kollel, and it slowly morphed into a yeshiva for those who had completed their military service.
The yeshiva today has some 150 students. Among its graduates are slain Major Roi Klein and his neighbor, slain Major Eliraz Peretz.
Part of the beit midrash's activities, under the leadership of Rabbi Eliezer Kastiel, integrates Torah studies and academic studies in its Chai Roi Institute for Public and Civic Leadership, named after Roi Klein.
The program trains its participants – 18 in each cycle – for what it calls "idealistic leadership in the public sector" in societal and economic fields based on the values and idealism learned from Torah. The study track is known to be rigorous and demanding, and grants its participants a full scholarship and a monthly living stipend.
The Bnei David post-military program was established with a donation made by Henry and Esther Swieca who were recruited by Bnei David Director Lior Shtol.
During the consecration ceremony, the classrooms were named after five of the institutes graduates killed in IDF combat – Lt. Col. Emanuel Morano, Maj. Roi Klein, Maj. Benji Hillman, Maj. Yoni Netanel, and Maj. Eliraz Peretz.
'These people show us how to learn Torah'
Rabbi Eli Sadan noted during the celebration that Bnei David is apparently the first beit midrash in some two thousand years in which all of its students performed full military service – most of them in commander and officer roles.
Of the graduates killed in combat, Rabbi Sadan said, "The need to stand in front of their pictures demands each of us to live life on another level. These people show us how to learn Torah."
Central Command Chief Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi, who participated in the event, said, "Our generation was privileged to be part of the return to the Land of Israel. We have the obligation, each and every one of us, to protect this valuable deposit and pass Israel, its independence and its entirety and greatness, on from generation to generation without hurting a hair on the heads of its people and our land.
"We must increase the number of people who come and study here… we will do everything possible so that we can truly prove that we are here for generations and will remain here for generations… I hope we only meet at these types of events and that we will continue to build the country as much as possible," said Maj. Gen. Mizrahi.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said of Bnei David graduates that they "know when to open a Bible and when to close it and go to war, and to return from war and open it again."
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner said during the event that it is not enough to learn Torah, but that one must learn to live it and uphold it. "The only mitzvah (commandment) that requires dedication from the outset is the military. Therefore, this is a big fulfillment of the Torah," said Rabbi Aviner.
Shlomit Peretz, Maj. Eliraz Peretz's widow, said during a video clip shown at the event that the institute provided an outlet for something very dear to her heart – Torah study and faith. "I am certain that Eliraz is here, sees this, and is happy," she said of her late husband.