MTA is getting ready to launch the 15th year of its unique Makor Chaim Israel Exchange Program. Each year, a select group of MTA Sophomores have the opportunity to live in Israel and attend Yeshivat Makor Chaim (YMC) for an academic quarter. Founded by noted Jewish educators Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz and Rabbi Dov Singer, YMC is located in Kibbutz Kfar Etzion. This immersive experience of Toras Eretz Yisrael allows talmidim to fully integrate into Israeli culture and absorb the spirituality of YMC. In turn, a group of YMC talmidim spend an academic quarter at MTA, where they enhance the spiritual culture of the yeshivah. This year, the program is open to both MTA Sophomores and Juniors.

“Our Makor Chaim program, unlike many other American programs, fully integrates talmidim in their studies with their Israeli peers,” shared Director of Hebrew Languages and Special Programs Mrs. Tova Fish-Rosenberg. “Talmidim learn all of their limudei kodesh with the Israeli talmidim and participate in all activities together. General Studies subjects are taught by English-speaking teachers using our curriculum, in consultation with Interim Principal for General Studies Rabbi Dov Emerson.” Talmidim also have the opportunity to learn more about Israeli history and culture through special tiyulim led by dedicated madrichim. “Through this experience, we enable our talmidim to absorb the spirit of Toras Eretz Yisrael by attending one of the finest Israeli yeshivah high schools. The program focuses strongly on teaching talmidim p’nimiyus (inwardness) as well as fostering character and intellectual development, which ultimately enhances our own chinuch environment here at MTA in exciting ways. Our talmidim, along with the YMC talmidim who spend time with us, bring back the strong spirituality that is unique to Yeshivat Makor Chaim and infuse it into our yeshivah culture,” shared Head of School Rabbi Joshua Kahn. “This program has a lasting impression on all of our talmidim who have participated in it and helps them develop a deeper love for Eretz Yisrael and am Yisrael.”

In a newsletter article for Lev LaChayal, a program for lone soldiers run by Yeshivat Lev HaTorah, MTA alumnus Yonatan Chudnoff (’19) discussed the impact MTA’s Makor Chaim program had on his decision to join the IDF. “As early as middle school, I began to have fleeting thoughts about joining the army. But, back then, I would not have called it my desired aspiration,” shared Chudnoff. “In 10th grade, I participated in an incredible program, MTA’s exchange program with the Israeli High School Makor Chaim. There, I was exposed to Israeli culture and started to think more seriously about going to the army. Once I arrived at Yeshivat Otniel (post-high school), I said to myself, ‘Oh, wow, I totally need to do this!’” Chudnoff serves in the Rabbanut for the Givati Brigade as a Rakaz Mor, also known as Mashak Da’at, where he manages basic logistics for religious needs, for both individual soldiers and army bases. He also ensures that proper kashrut protocols are kept throughout the Givati Brigade, and serves as the Ruach Coordinator, helping any soldier who wants to incorporate religion to experience it on whatever level he or she is comfortable with. In the article, Chudnoff shared that he joined Lev LaChayal to meet his own religious needs. “I wanted to be in a place that has a very strong religious home base. Lev LaChayal offers a yeshivah environment which is so incredibly important for a guy like me who came from yeshivah. The program has some of the most serious hesder soldiers out there, all from the Diaspora, guys from so many yeshivos, highly motivated, who care about Judaism, Torah learning, and the army.”

MTA’s Makor Chaim program is scheduled to begin at the end of December.