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Hesder (in Hebrew: "arrangement"; or Yeshivat Hesder ישיבת הסדר) is an Israeli yeshiva program which combines advanced Talmudic studies with military service in the Israel Defense Forces, usually within a Religious Zionist framework. These yeshivot allow religious Jews to fulfill the ideal of full and active participation in the defense of the Israeli people, while still engaging in intense Torah study during their formative years.

Framework and description[edit]

Hesder service usually lasts a total of five years, within which participants are officially soldiers in the IDF. Through those five years, 16 months are dedicated to actual army service, comprising both training and active duty. In some Hesder Yeshivas service lasts six years of which 24 months are dedicated to actual army service. Almost all Hesder Yeshiva students serve in the army as combat soldiers. The remainder of the time in Hesder is designated for full-time Torah study. Some students study for several years after this mandatory term. Yeshivot Hesder typically have 150–300 students; some of the larger yeshivot have up to 500 students while some have fewer than 100 students.[citation needed]

The typical Yeshivat Hesder functions along the lines of a traditional Orthodox yeshiva, with an emphasis on in-depth study of the Talmud. However, the curriculum of a Hesder yeshiva often additionally includes an increased focus on Tanakh and Jewish Philosophy. In addition, most Yeshivot Hesder encourage their students to spend time helping the needy in surrounding communities.[citation needed]

Many of the Yeshivot Hesder also support a Kollel and offer a Semicha ("rabbinic ordination") program, usually in preparation for the "Semicha of the Rabbanut"; many Hesder graduates also obtain semicha from Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Since 1990, various hesder yeshivot have established, or are associated with, teachers' institutes. Graduates of these yeshivot are thus often active in the educational system of the national-religious, both as rabbis and as teachers.[citation needed]

A number have programs for students from the Diaspora ("overseas programs") lasting one or two years; these vary in size from about ten people to over a hundred and fifty. The most prominent of these programs are those of Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh, Yeshivat Shaalvim, and Yeshivat Har Etzion.[citation needed]

As an alternative to Hesder, many high school students opt to study at a one-year mechina and then proceed to a regular period of military service.[citation needed]


The first Yeshivat Hesder was Kerem B'Yavneh, founded in 1953 (with its program modelled on Nahal; a unit combining time on a (frontier) agricultural settlement with army service). As of 2011 there are 68 Yeshivot Hesder spread throughout Israel, combining to a total of over 8,500 students.

In 1991, the Yeshivot Hesder were awarded the Israel Prize for their special contribution to society and the State of Israel.[1]

Legal standing[edit]

The legal standing of yeshivot taking part in the Hesder program was regulated for years by orders of the Israeli Minister of Defense. In 1999, a ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court invalidated such orders dealing with exemptions from service of Haredi yeshiva students. As it was much less controversial, that ruling did not deal with the Hesder program. However, the new Knesset's law concerning Haredi yeshiva student exemptions also included an article concerning the legal status of Hesder service and yeshivot. More recently, there has been growing concern that the groups of young men studying and serving together in the IDF will be broken down into smaller groups and dispersed across the branches and corps of the IDF.

List of Yeshivot[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]