Dr. David J. Portowicz – Honorary Chairman
“Students here are given the chance, for the first time in their lives, to be part of a nurturing community. The best way to help these children is to say ‘you are our son, you are our family.’”
Dr. David J. Portowicz co-founded the Jaffa Institute in 1982 and orchestrated its merger with the Bet Shemesh Educational Center in 1986. Dr. Portowicz was born in the United States and earned his Doctorate in Social Work from Brandeis University. Prior to establishing the Jaffa Institute, Dr. Portowicz was the Director of the Jewish Community Center of Jaffa and was Principal of both Leominster and Beth Shalom Hebrew Schools in Massachusetts. Today, he is CEO of the Jaffa Institute and lecturer in the School of Social Work at Bar Ilan University.
Mr. Raziel Weisel – Executive Director
“I get great satisfaction from the progress that our students make. When they first arrive, we can see how their family situations have made their lives difficult. With time and lots of close attention, they succeed at their studies and go on to advanced studies that include army service, and to establish good families of their own.”
Mr. Weisel has been the director of BSEC since it was established in 1986. He served in the Israeli army as a chaplain, finishing with the rank of Captain. He is responsible for the day-to-day management of BSEC, making sure that the students have warm, nutritious meals, the best possible teachers, and warm, safe, and pleasant surroundings in which to learn and grow together.
Children at Risk (Kiryat Chinuch)
Rabbi Avishalom Ben Shoshan– Rosh Yeshiva
“We educate our students to love Judaism, the Torah and the Land of Israel, and to realize the potential that G-d has given them. We provide an opportunity to children, who would not normally have the option to do so, to complete high school with a matriculation certificate, enabling them to pursue higher education.”
Rabbi Avishalom Ben-Shoshan, 45 years old, is Rosh Yeshivah of the Beit Shemesh Educational Center’s program for Children at Risk. He
previously served as the head of Yavne Yeshiva High School in Manchester, England. He was also the coordinator of the Jerusalem district of the Ezra Youth Movement, and today serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Ezra. Rabbi Ben-Shoshan studied at the Karnei Shomron Hesder Yeshiva and later at Horev Yeshiva Kolel. He holds a BA in Education and an MA in Jewish Education.
Mr. Gidon Shindler – School Principal
“The Bet Shemesh Educational Center educates its students to love the Torah, to love other people, and to love learning. The school concentrates on developing in the students tools for success in their studies with special attention to their specific educational and personal needs.”
A graduate of the Yeshivat Hesder in Petach Tikva, Gideon has a BA in Education and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. He completed the program for outstanding students at the Statesmanship College, as well as the Ministry of Education’s course for school principals. Prior to joining the Bet Shemesh Educational Center, Gideon was a teacher, extracurricular activities coordinator and a member of the management board at the Nachshon Amit Yeshiva.
Secular Education for Ultra-Orthodox boys (Mishkenotecha Yisrael)
Rabbi Menachem Warschavsky – Rosh Yeshiva
“The purpose of education is to provide the students with the tools necessary to absorb the information to which they are exposed. In this sense, we are all students because we use those tools to learn throughout our lives, as it says, ‘Train a lad in the way he ought to go; He will not swerve from it [from being educated] even in old age.’ Proverbs 22:6.”
Rabbi Warshavsky serves as Rosh Yeshiva of the Bet Shemesh Educational Center’s Secular Education Program for at-risk Hareidi (Ultra-Orthodox) boys. With more than 30 years of experience successfully educating and providing guidance for at-risk youth, Rabbi Warshavsky is the noted author of the widely used “Laws of Shabbat for Students” and serves as the congregational rabbi of Yeshurun Synagogue in Petah Tikva. Rabbi Warshavsky also authored the book “Judges in the Spotlight for the Pupil,” a series of booklets on the Jewish holidays, and has trained teachers through the Makor Ha-Ma’ayanot College. Rabbi Warchawsky is a graduate of the Yavneh Academy in Kiryat Ata, the New Yishuv in Tel Aviv and the Hebron Yeshiva of Jerusalem.
Mr. Shlomi DaJong – Director
“Giving a second chance to every young person is our moral duty as a society and as individuals.”
Mr. DaJong serves as Director of the Bet Shemesh Educational Center’s Secular Education Program for at-risk Hareidi (Ultra-Orthodox) boys and was one of the original founders of the program. With over 10 years of experience working with at risk youth in various fields, Mr. DaJong received his education at Yeshivat Birkat Yitzchak in Bnei Brak and studied pedagogy at Achva College, where he received a BA in Special Education. Mr. DaJong has extensive experience in improving the lives of so-called “detached youth” and often employs his skills as a certified Life Coach.