Machon Yaakov was founded in 2005 by Rabbi Beryl Gershenfeld (Rosh Yeshiva) and Rabbi Avraham Yitzchok Jacobs (Director). Machon Yaakov has its roots in a sister institution, Machon Shlomo (also located in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem), which enjoys a more than 25-year reputation for excellence in developing exceptional students. Rabbi Gershenfeld has been deeply involved with Machon Shlomo since its inception, and continues to serve as dean of that institution as well.
Around 2000, it became evident that Machon Shlomo would no longer be able to handle the number of high-quality applicants it was receiving. To remain true to its hands-on, intimate, and intensive program, Rabbi Gershenfeld asked Rabbi Jacobs – a graduate of Machon Shlomo, but by then a senior Wall Street executive – to begin making preparations for another program that would effectively double Machon Shlomo’s capacity without compromising its core philosophy or commitment to excellence. The result was Machon Yaakov, which opened its doors in September 2005.