The city of Akko, the ancient capital of the Galilee and one of the holiest cities in Israel, represents thousands of years of Jewish history.
For generations, Akko served as the port of entry to the Holy Land. The Talmud relates that the Sages would kiss the stones of Akko when arriving to this vital seaport. Renowned as a center of religious study, Akko attracted many great scholars including the Ramhal (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto), Maimonides and Nachmanides. Among the famous visitors to Akko's Jewish community was Benjamin of Tudela, the Jewish traveler and diarist. Akko is remembered as the site of the 1947 prison breakout by Etzel (the Jewish underground). Later, the city became home to many Holocaust survivors seeking refuge at Israel's shores.
Currently, the Jewish existence of the city hangs in the balance. Nearly 20,000 Jewish residents have left the city in recent years, only to be relplaced by thousands of Arab families from the surrounding Galilee. The city may very well loose a Jewish majority. Today, only 50% of children entering kindergarten are Jewish. What happens today in Akko could very well happen throughout Israel tomorrow.
The Hesder Yeshiva of Akko was established in 2003 to help stem the shift in population, to strengthen and maintain the Zionist character of this ancient city and to infuse hope for the future of Akko. Since its founding, the Yeshiva has succeeded in bringing a spirit of Jewish revival and identity to the city.
Thank G-d, the Yeshiva is growing rapidly. In the four and a half years since its inception, the student body has grown from 30 to 160 students, some of whom have married and settled in Akko. During the five year program, the students combine learning and military service with practical involvement in the general community, sharing their enthusiasm and spirit of Torah values with the city residents by volunteering in schools, old age homes, Civil Guard, Magen David Adom, community events, Torah study groups and outreach programs.
The Yeshiva is temporarily housed in an old synagogue in the Wolfson neighborhood which is far too small and inadequate to accomidate the increasing number of students.
We are very pleased that the Municipality of Akko has acknowledged the importance of having such an institution in the city and has allocated a significantly large piece of land, about 2.5 acres, for the purpose of building a new campus for the Yeshiva. Construction is well underway and the expected completion date draws closer every day.
We ask you to become our partner in building Yeshivat Hesder of Akko, the "spirit of the North." Akko is the keystone to Israel' tomorrow.
Let us stand firmly together and be strong for Am Yisrael and on behalf of our city. Please join us. Your support is vital!
Chazak Chazak Ve'Nitchazak.
Rabbi Yossi Stern, Rosh Yeshiva