Filling the gap

Haredi Hebrew U. student Yoni Etzioni explains why he has chosen to become a dentist, even in the face of his rabbi’s ambivalence

June 20, 2013 12:53
4 minute read.
Yoni Etzioni

Yoni Etzioni521. (photo credit: courtesy)


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Born in Bnei Brak, Yoni Etzioni was slated to become a typical student at a Lithuanian yeshiva in Israel. Although he attended a junior high school yeshiva where he could also study the regular curriculum of English and math and take the matriculation exams, nothing indicated that he would ultimately veer from the expected course of his life. Today Etzioni is still haredi, but his lifestyle does not at all reflect the strict religious milieu in which he was born and raised.

Etzioni, 30, is married and has a young daughter. His resume includes six years of intensive Talmudic studies at two of the most prestigious Lithuanian yeshivas – Hebron and Mir. But today he is a dentist and is studying for his master’s degree in neurobiology at the Hebrew University and the Hadassah University Medical Center. In a way, Etzioni represents many young haredim who remain faithful to the ultra-Orthodox way of life but choose to leave the yeshiva or to reduce the time they spend there in order to get an academic education or vocational training and join the workforce. For Etzioni and many others like him, the Kemah Foundation is the key to making that happen.


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