Schechter Students and Faculty Participate in Defense of Israel


Since October 7th, 2023, Schechter’s activities, students, faculty and families have been heavily involved in securing Israel’s resilience. Whether by service to the community, service in the armed forces or volunteering with evacuees, Schechter is highly a part of Israel’s fabric. 

Like all of Israel, we have all lost neighbors, friends, young men and women from the community, and family members to the horrors of the war. We mourn with beloved Bible teacher Dr. Sarah Schwartz whose son David z’l fell in Gaza, with Marpeh student Anat Elkabetz who daughter Sivan z’l was slaughtered in her home on Kibbutz Kfar Aza and with Schechter graduate Gila Vizel whose son Elkana z’l fell in Gaza, and many, many others. 

Every part of Schechter created and brought forth initiatives to support Israel’s resilience.

TALI re-engineered its programming to offer educators and children new outlets for reaching educational goals.

The Schechter Rabbinical Seminary sponsored an emergency hotline for halakhic questions, learning days and events for laypeople, Jewish educators and clergy to assist in working towards a better understanding of Jewish holidays and ideas during this time of emergency.

Schechter faculty and staff picked fruits and vegetables on farms and agricultural businesses to assist crops reach markets and Israel’s populace.

Neve Schechter welcomed citizens from the hard-hit city of Ofakim for an evening of rest & relaxation during Hannuka.

Schechter Galleries opened a treatment facility based on Mycelium and via its new Radio Awe (Radio Tefillot) exhibit is generating a sanctuary for people to offer prayers to be heard over the Internet.

Schechter’s Marpeh Spiritual Care program opened a spiritual help emergency hotline.

Below are some of our stories: 

Boris Volvik on his tank by the sea in Gaza

Schechter MA student Boris Volvik was called to the Gaza front following October 7th. A fire fighter by profession, Boris is a student in Schechter’s Land of Israel and Jerusalem path. A member of Kibbutz Nir in the Western Negev, he and his family were removed from the Kibbutz to safety and are temporarily living in Tel Aviv. When possible, Boris joins studies via Zoom.

Boaz Levin and his two sons

Boaz Levin was set to complete his MA in Bible Studies at the Schechter Institutes. Instead, on October 7th he was immediately conscripted into emergency reserve duty. It became a family affair as two of his sons were also called straight into duty that day. Boaz, a civil engineer with a specialty in sustainability, is looking forward to completing his degree and having both of his sons join him at home after the war.

Azriel Dotan returning his wife’s book

DEVOTION: When a husband on his only day of leave from fighting in Gaza arrives at Schechter to return his wife’s library book so she can finalize her MA degree! Thank you Azriel Dotan, yes with your rifle, for returning a book enabling Rotem Twig-Dotan to complete her MA in the History of Sephardic Jewry! Mazal Tov!

Noa Kelly working with children evacuated from communities in the south

Noa Kelly, who started Schechter’s ‘Mishlei’ Jewish studies and community leadership program, volunteered her time, experience and love with Sderot’s displaced children at a hotel by the Dead Sea. After October 7th, she answered the national call for educators to join the frontlines to help maintain our childrens’ education. With social projects, Noa is re-building Sderot’s community while supporting the families and children.

Nissim Abbeson at Schechter

Nissim Abbeson, an MA student in Mishlei, Schechter’s community leadership and Jewish Identity program, was called up to the reserves on the first day of the war. Here he stops by Schechter on the way from the southern Gaza front to his home on the Golan Heights. He teaches geography, sciences and Land of Israel studies at the Alon HaBashan Yeshiva and leads family learning of Pirkei Avot in his community. 

Shlomi Ohayoun

Shlomi Ohayoun is pursuing an MA in Jewish Thought at Schechter. Since October 7th, his mission was transferred into defending Israel as part of the famed Givati reserves unit. When not serving in the reserves, Shlomi is a Bible and Jewish Thought teacher in a school where he helps students from difficult backgrounds and those with learning issues.

Eliah Tzafrir

Elia Tsafrir, an MA student in Schechter Institute’s Midrash and Aggadah track, is an officer in an armored corps reserve unit. In normal times, she teaches History and is an educator at the Hebrew Gymnasium Herziliya. At Schechter, she is deepening her textual knowledge. During this war on Friday evenings, she leads textual discussions for her unit.

Dr. Yair Paz in reserve duty

Dr. Yair Paz, Sr. Lecturer in Land of Israel Studies and closing in on retirement, is still doing reserve duty (normal age for reserves is up to 55)! Drafted as part of the Home Front Command’s ‘Barn Owl’ unit, Yair is an officer whose specialty is advising the Home Front Command on population behavior during times of missile strikes, something that has happened far too many times.


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