Jesselson Institute for Advanced Torah Studies - The Midrasha
Nurturing Future Leaders at the Midrasha
"I believe in the importance of Torah study and its impact on my life," says Hadas Nevenzal, a PhD life sciences candidate, who is specializing in nanotechnology. "I have always been interested in gemara – which is so central to Jewish thought and life – but I never had an opportunity to engage in intensive study until now."
A lecturer at the Midrasha and the Department of Hebrew and Semitic Languages, Dr. Meirav Tubul Kahana is a product of the Beit Midrash from a decade ago.
The Beit Midrash, she says, fills a critical role "in drawing women to in-depth Oral Law study. In our generation, women who complete their PhDs and gain prominence in their fields must also be conversant with halakha and gemara and able to influence the public discourse on marriage, divorce and other issues."
A Unique Torah Institution in a University Setting
The Midrasha for Women in the Ludwig and Erica Jesselson Institute for Advanced Torah Studies is located at the heart of Bar-Ilan University's main campus. As a university-based institution, the Midrasha is not a sequestered Torah experience for women, but rather one that is grounded in worldly, scholarly and scientific learning and professional self-fulfillment alongside the Torah experience.
With a faculty of more than 33 Torah experts, drawn from a broad spectrum of Jewish scholarship and religious orientation, the Midrasha strives to position women in Jewish leadership roles by empowering them to play an influential role in the evolving Jewish world as well as the dynamic processes of halakhic interpretation and guidance.
Dr. Tova Ganzel, Director of the Midrasha, is one of Israel's first trained yo'atzot halakha (women's halakhic advisors). Dr. Ganzel feels every student on campus should be given the opportunity to strengthen their Jewish identity.
"Since its inception, the Midrasha has educated future women leaders who are not only experts in their chosen academic disciplines” she says, “but who have also acquired profound Jewish knowledge that will enable them to figure prominently in the public Jewish discourse, both in Israel and worldwide."
A Multitude of Programs and Outreach Initiatives
Over 750 students participate annually in a variety of Midrasha programs comprising some 80 different courses that cater to all levels of Jewish educational background: Beginners, students with extensive background in Torah study, as well as students interested in advanced, high-level Torah scholarship. The Midrasha programs include the Metivta program, the Reshit program, a special program is available for training pre-marital coaches, the the Etnachata Program , a PhD program, and others.
In addition, the Midrasha organizes seminars, lectures, and other public forums open to the community-at-large before Jewish holidays. The Midrasha thus serves as a magnet for women, both on and off campus, who wish to further their Jewish knowledge and strengthen their Jewish identity.