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AFYBA’s Renaissance: A Modern Vision Rooted in Legacy

The American Friends Yeshivot and Ulpanot of Bnei Akiva (AFYBA) is a modern vision rooted in legacy. Learn more about this educational institution

The American Friends Yeshivot and Ulpanot of Bnei Akiva (AFYBA)

by Contributing Author

Amid the hustle and bustle of New York’s ever-evolving cultural landscape, one organization is confidently setting its sights on a transformative journey. The American Friends Yeshivot and Ulpanot of Bnei Akiva (AFYBA) is preserving its cherished past and daringly embracing the future. With the introduction of a polished website, a refreshed emblem, and the induction of new leadership, the organization stands ready to herald a vibrant new era.

Founded in 1939 by Rabbi Moshe Zvi Neria, AFYBA has been an enduring testament to Jewish education and values. Following Rabbi Neria’s passing in 1995, the torch was passed to Rav Druckman, who dedicated himself until his passing earlier this year. The future now lies in the hands of a fortified leadership team, passionate about fostering growth and expanding their reach both in the US and globally.

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Leading the charge into this exciting future is Jack Gourdji, the newly-appointed Executive Director of AFYBA. With a decorated 12-year stint at JUF/Yachad and various pivotal roles across Jewish Institutions, Gourdji’s dedication is evident. A proud alumnus of Hofstra University and an active board member at Anshei Shalom synagogue, West Hempstead, NY, Jack’s alignment with AFYBA’s vision seems like a match made in heaven.

The American Friends Yeshivot and Ulpanot of Bnei Akiva (AFYBA)

AFYBA Board President, Ari Raskas, exudes enthusiasm about this appointment. “We are thrilled to welcome Jack Gourdji as our new Executive Director,” he said. Raskas believes that the combination of new leadership and updated branding will “make the AFYBA mission much clearer as we shepherd in a new era and communicate to our American supporters and those worldwide, the importance of the AFYBA organization.”

Gourdji himself is deeply humbled, stating, “I am honored to be part of the longstanding legacy of AFYBA.” His vision is clear: “We hope to educate supporters of Israel and its students about AFYBA and invite people to learn about the extraordinary mission of AFYBA’s 70 schools and to join our call to support the educational mission of the future leaders of Israel.”

The American Friends Yeshivot and Ulpanot of Bnei Akiva (AFYBA)

But AFYBA is not just about history or leadership transitions. The heart of this institution is its expansive educational reach, spanning a network of 70 esteemed institutions across Israel. Tracing back to Rabbi Moshe Zvi Neria, a future Israel Prize winner and close disciple of Rav Avraham Yitzchok HaCohen Kook, the foundation was laid with an avant-garde yeshiva high school in Kfar Haroeh.

With an annual enrollment of 24,000 students from diverse backgrounds such as Russia, Ethiopia, India, North America, Europe, and beyond, AFYBA’s commitment to holistic education shines bright. Their inclusive approach not only covers religious studies but also secular topics, arts, and sciences.

The accomplishments of AFYBA alumni stand testament to the organization’s success. Through programs like the AFYBA’s hesder yeshivot, students either find esteemed roles in elite IDF combat units or commit themselves to Sherut Leumi, Israel’s National Service Corps.

Gourdji joins an elite roster of leaders at AFYBA, including Moshe Berniker, who now helms fundraising; Rav Shlomo Kimche, AFYBA’s Vice Chairman; and Ari Raskas, the President of the AFYBA board.

As AFYBA looks to the horizon, the promise of the New Year blends seamlessly with a rejuvenated leadership spirit and an unwavering commitment to making a profound impact. Dive deeper into AFYBA’s innovative programs and explore their mission.



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