The illustrious history of Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh began in the 1930s, before the establishment of the State of Israel. The idea was conceived to rebuild the ancient Talmudic academy, founded by Rav Yochanan ben Zakai two millennia ago.
By the outbreak of the War of Independence in 1948, the shell of the main building had been completed. Since it was the tallest structure in the area and offered a commanding view of the coastal plain, it was used as a forward post by Yigal Alon, commander of Israel’s southern front.
Founding rosh hayeshiva, Rav Chayim Yaakov Goldvicht, zt’l, a talmid of both the Brisker Rav and the Chazon Ish, opened Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh in 1954 (5714). The first class was made up of 12 graduates of the prototype of B’nei Akiva high schools. These dedicated students, imbued with a love for Torah, the people, and the Land of Israel, soon faced a dilemma. As they approached draft age, they felt a dual obligation: to continue learning and to do their part in the active defense of the country. This problem would be solved by the implementation of the “Hesder” program.
Shortly after the founding of the State of Israel, Rav Kook, zt’l, and Rabbi Berlin, zt’l, envisioned a yeshiva that would combine the intensive Talmudic traditions of the East European bastions of learning with an atmosphere that would remain consistent with the lifestyle of the then young state. Now approaching its 60th year, Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh has successfully blended these elements and actively pursues programs to meet the spiritual/intellectual needs of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
Kerem B’Yavneh has 450 talmidim enrolled in its various programs. It tries to keep a proper mix between Israelis, who constitute two thirds of the student population, and those from overseas. The non-Israelis are mostly from North America, with a sizable group coming from England, Europe, South Africa, Brazil, and Australia.
The State of Israel needs Torah scholars who are thoroughly trained in Jewish law and are familiar with the jurisprudence of the State. Kerem B’Yavneh sponsors a kollel avreichim consisting of about 60 young talmidei chachamim who have distinguished themselves in their studies and are dedicated to mastering the complexities of daily practical problems posed by life in a Jewish State. Many of them are preparing to serve as dayanim [judges] in the Israeli Rabbinic courts and some have already been appointed to these honored positions.
Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh honors the State of Israel celebrating 65 years of independence. v