Rabbi David Tuvia Keil
Born in Israel, David Tuvia Kiel’s parents emigrated from Europeshortly before the second World War. His family is devoted to Jewish Education: his father was the head of the Religious Education Department, a leader in the Daat Hamiqra program, and was awarded the Israel Prize in Education. His mother was a principal. Five of their six children became educators.
Tuvia completed his studies in Nativ Meir, and combined his army service with his studies in the Hesder Yeshiva, Gush Etzion. He learned Torah from Rabbi Yehuda Amital z”l and Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein.
During his service in the Israeli Defense Forces, Tuvia served as a tank commander, taking part in the Yom Kippur War in the 188 unit, the majority of which was destroyed during the battles in theGolan Heights. He fought bravely in three tanks that were destroyed and was fortunate enough to stay alive.
Tuvia received his teaching certificate in the Shpedron Institute in 1974 and then studied law, Jewish philosophy and education at Bar Ilan and Hebrew Universities. Tuvia, his wife Mira Twerski and four children were shlichim inMilwaukee, Wisconsin from 1977-1981, where he was principal of a Jewish day school. Upone returning to Israel, he and his wife Mira were founders of Alon Shevut in Gush Etzion, and have lived there since 1981.
As a committed teacher, Tuvia dedicated most of his career to teaching in Israeli high schools. Tuvia began lecturing in the Lifshitz Michlala and as a guidance counselor for young teachers.
Tuvia met Rabbis Kassin and Shamoula who persuaded him to bring his educational expertise to the SSC. He came to the SSC in 1990 working together with Rabbi Sam Kassin and Rabbi Eliyahu Shamoula, nicknamed ‘the three musketeers.’
One of his first activities was joining Rabbi Kassin on a tour of South America. He asked the president of a congregation in Bogota why their Rabbi did not also teach. The president’s reply, “what does he know about education?” prompted Tuvia to open a department for the training of qualified teachers in the SSC. The program was co-ordinated with the Lifschitz Teacher’s Seminary and the Ministry of Education and Culture in Israel. Today, close to 40 SSC graduates serve as licensed teachers and principals throughout the world.
Tuvia’s impact on the SSC has been tremendous: He is the driving force behind the SSC’s highly successful operations in Russia. Jewish day schools were opened in Bukhara, Pyategorsk, andTashkent. In addition, kindergartens, adult education programs, mikvot and soup kitchens were established in these cities.
Instituted by Tuvia, a cornerstone of the SSC are its Annual Rabbinical Conferences, which have been held for the past 15 years. SSC alumni from all over the world gather for lectures and advice from great prominent rabbis. These rabbinical conferences have been held in Jerusalem, Bogotá, Barranquilla,Miami and more, drawing large crowds.
Tuvia has arranged for numberous educational enhancements to the SSC program. He has also been a key force in training teachers for the Diaspora, providing educational advice for schools, such as ‘Yavne’ in Sao Paulo and many more. He arranged with the Israel Ministry of Labor and Welfare to offer professional courses for training in Kashrut supervision. Most recently, Tuvia has introduced a program to assist in the conversion of new immigrants to Israel.
Tuvia is a dynamic personality who has transformed the SSC from a local yeshivah into an internationally recognized force in the field of Jewish education and outreach throughout the world.