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Ohr Somayach entrance sign

Ohr Somayach (also Or Samayach or Ohr Somayach International) was founded in 1970. It is a yeshiva based in Jerusalem, Israel, catering mostly to young Jewish men, usually of college age, who are already interested in learning about Judaism. It is known as a "baal teshuva" yeshiva since it caters to Jews with little or no background in Judaism. These Jews have an interest in studying more about Judaism's classic religious texts such as the Talmud and responsa.

It is specifically designed to meet the needs of the many baal teshuvas ("returnees" [to Judaism]) who are recruited either locally or from other countries where the yeshiva has established branches, such as in the United States, Canada, South Africa, United Kingdom, Australia, Ukraine and Russia.



Co-founder and Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Mendel Weinbach has stated his positions on many issues.

He has compared intermarriage and assimilation to "'do-it-yourself genocide' where more than six million are trying to achieve a final solution of vanishing into the family of nations, rather than serve as a model for them."[1]

Rabbi Weinbach supports at least some forms of enforcement of Jewish law in the public space.

It is painful to see the gradual corrosion of Jewish tradition in secular Israel as evidenced by the proliferation of shopping centers operating on Shabbat and the recent controversy over official permission to sell chametz on Pesach.[2]


  • J.L.E. - Jewish Learning Exchange - Summer program includes tours of Israel and lectures
  • The Shoresh Program: Introduction to Talmud and Jewish thought
  • The Intermediate and Mechina Program: Beginner to Intermediate Talmud learning
  • The Beis Midrash Program: Advanced learning
  • Derech: One or two year post-high-school program
  • The Center Program: Intensive learning for college graduates (one or two year program)
  • Ohr LaGola: Smicha program
  • Yesod: Meaning foundations - a beginners program.
  • Chai Israel: A gap year program consisting of classes, internships, trips, volunteer work and experiences designed to emphasize Israeli culture. Rabbi Dani Zwick is the current program director.


The need for this kind of yeshiva was conceived by Rabbi Noah Weinberg, among others, in the 1960s. The Diaspora Yeshiva began in 1964, the second of the "Baal-Teshuva" Yeshivos. Subsequently, a number of key Yeshivas opened its doors accepting these "returnees" to Judaism. "Shema Yisrael" was one of these. It was founded by Rabbi Noah Weinberg, who invited Rabbis Weinbach and Schiller to join him. Later on, Rabbi Noah Weinberg left to found Aish HaTorah. Shema Yisroel changed its name to Ohr Somayach and today has a large faculty and has produced hundreds of graduates.

The yeshiva is headed by its two other co-founders Rabbi Mendel Weinbach and Rabbi Nota Schiller.

Notable faculty

  • Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb is a former professor of analytical philosophy at Johns Hopkins University.
  • Rabbi Berel Wein is known for his many books and audio tapes on Jewish History.
  • Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky is famous in English-speaking Haredi circles for his speeches, which include kosher stand-up comedy.
  • Rabbi Dovid Kaplan is a world renowned outreach expert. He authored Impact and The Kiruv Files.

See also


M. Herbert Danziger, Returning to Tradition.

External links



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