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Amudim

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Look beyond the “what” to explore the “whys” of Jewish texts and ideas.

In an innovative beit midrash where students are immersed in both traditional learning and modern scholarship, Amudim provides the intellectually curious student with the necessary toolbox for lifelong independent Torah study. Amudim’s staff foster honest conversations about essential and existential issues such as the existence of God, free will, the afterlife, the problem of evil and suffering, the composition of Torah texts, and the interaction between Judaism and modern values and ethics. In addition to our first rate on-campus faculty, we have regular classes at the Bible Lands Museum, Bar-Ilan campus, and the National Library and in the Old City, and weekly seminars featuring internationally renowned experts in their fields. We live our Torah on our tiyulim, whether it’s by building Talmudic era stoves to cook for our camping shabbaton or meeting with Ka’arites after hiking in the southern desert. Our internship program allows our students to explore fields that may be of interest professionally for them long term (and help boost their CVs) in fields such as medicine, STEM, academia, archaeology, the arts, animal care and more.

Goals of Program

In a world which allows for unprecedented encounters and exchange on a global scale, and recognizing that students today enter a classroom with much broader exposure to information and appetite for knowledge than they did even a decade ago, the program at Amudim aims to:

  1. Introduce students to the extraordinary complexity and profundity of Torah study and Jewish life.
  2. Provide a modern framework for understanding, appreciating and finding oneself in the world of Judaism today. 
  3. Empower each student to bring her own voice to Torah learning, identify and hone a derekh ha-limmud, and think critically and creatively about the texts she encounters.
  4. Inspire steadfast Shmirat ha-Mitzvot and love of Torah, the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
  5. Inspire students to become community leaders and contributors to the conversation on Jewish texts and ideas.
  6. Address meta issues, looking beyond the “what” to explore the “whys” and "hows" of Torah, Jewish thought and culture.
  7. Address methodological issues (e.g. various approaches to Tanakh study, the halakhic process).
  8. Facilitate independent learning through discussions of method and skill-building.
  9. Introduce students to Jewish intellectual life in Israel and facilitate close interaction with a groundbreaking panoply of leading scholars and educators.

Attitude Towards Israel and Medinat Yisrael

Amudim maintains a strongly Religious Zionist/Dati Leumi outlook and approach, inspiring students to value the Land of Israel’s spiritual dimensions, the roles it plays in Jewish history and the shaping of Jewish identity, and to truly experience contemporary life in Israel. A special course in Israel studies provides an in-depth understanding of the Zionist narrative and how it conflicts with the Palestinian narrative, and addresses complex issues head on, so that students gain the knowledge to effectively articulate an informed position regarding one of the longest running modern conflicts. In addition, many other shiurim, lectures, tiyulim, hagim, internships and activities at Amudim are designed to provoke thought and discussion regarding the religious significance of the land of Israel, Israeli politics, military service, and Israel advocacy, as well as deepen the physical and spiritual connection to our homeland.

Attitude Towards University Studies

With its highly academic approach and faculty drawn from universities and academic institutions across Israel, the Amudim classroom actually reflects that of the university, harnessing the tools of modern scholarship in the study of Torah. In order to introduce students to university life and ways that Torah study can be incorporated into it, Amudim students spend two days per week learning on university campuses and settings (including at Bar-Ilan University’s midrasha, the National Library of Israel and the Bible Lands Museum). As a result, it is a natural preliminary step towards attending university. After spending a year studying Torah at an advanced level at Amudim, students are fully expected and encouraged to pursue higher education and careers in other fields. While Amudim’s educational approach prepares students for ideological challenges they may face in a college classroom, special “College Prep” courses at Amudim address more practical and social challenges that may arise.

Curricular Approach

From its inception, Amudim has been at the forefront of advanced Torah education for women in taking an Amudim’s innovative approach to Talmud Torah which is:

  1. Meta: As opposed to simply comprehending texts, the learning at Amudim aspires to read them in historical context, compare and contrast them to other texts, ascertain how the ideas in them unfolded over time, analyze authorial decisions and, in general, dialogue with them.
     
  2. Expansive: In addition to traditional sedarim and shiurim, Amudim offers out-of-the-box courses and activities led by world renowned scholars and artists, geared toward in-depth exploration of fundamental questions of religion and Torah.
     
  3. Evidence-Based: Learning at Amudim is based on the premise that the Jewish religious experience begins and ends with text, that all conclusions must be textually-justified.
     
  4. Student-Centered: Amudim promotes independent thought and decision-making, asking students to interact personally with texts and even on tiyulim—observing, summarizing, inferring, critiquing, questioning and challenging. Teachers are facilitators rather than knowledge-dispensers and, with an eye towards experiential learning, students are asked to engage in peer-review, intellectual exchange and team-teaching.

Sample of Classes

Theories of God

Problems and Methods in Torah Studies

Jewish-Christian Polemics

Writings of S.Y. Agnon

Body, Beauty, Gender and Dress

Jewish Biblical Art

Safrut: Scribal Arts

The Contemporary Jewish Short Story

Imagining Women in the Talmud

Gender and Halakhah

Groundbreaking Responsa

Talmud for Thinkers

Kabbalah

Jewish Ethics

Philosophies of Prayer

Museum Tanakh

Gemara Seder and Shiur

Halakhah Seder and Shiur

Tanakh Seder and Shiur

 

Internships and Hitnadvut

With an eye towards developing an association between Torah learning, community and communal responsibility, Amudim features a unique internship/hitnadvut (volunteer) program which requires students to contribute to Israeli society through taking up internships or devote time and energy to the underprivileged or mentally or physically challenged. Pursuing internships just as they would a regular job (with cover letters, sometimes resumes and interviews), students have worked in the following fields, amongst others: Medicine, medical research, archaeology, the arts, animal care, writing, office management, nutrition, engineering, education, start-ups, curatorial/museum work, libraries and more. These internships have been foundational to students’ understanding of self and the roles they can play in the broader Jewish and Israeli community. In addition to individualized internships, Amudim arranges for the student body to engage in hesed activities together (e.g. Tomkhei Shabbat, pantry packing, medical clowning etc) throughout the year, mostly around yom tovim times, and solicits volunteers for regular bikur holim on a weekly basis.

Amudim also assists students looking to participate in competitions or events deemed beneficial to their spiritual or physical development, such as the YU Choir competition and the Jerusalem marathon.

Interaction with Israelis

Amudim students spend one day a week at the Midrasha at Bar-Ilan University, where they attend classes conducted in Hebrew side by side with Israeli young women. I Modiin, each student is set up in the beginning of the year with an  “Adoptive Family” program, who host the students for meals (both weekday and shabbat) and carry out a number of informal programs with the students both inside the midrasha and within their own homes.  In addition, our internship/hitnadvut program entails either taking up a hesed-oriented position or a more formal internship, working as an unpaid employee in the Israeli sector, a facet of Amudim life which has been foundational to students’ understanding of self and the roles they can play in the broader Jewish and Israeli community. Our Madrikhot are all Israeli young women, acting as role models to our students, delivering haburot in Hebrew and English and teaching them about Israeli culture.

 

Campus and Housing

Amudim is based in the city of Modi'in, one of the fastest growing and beautiful cities in Israel today. Over the course of the last two decades, Modi'in has exploded into a major modern metropolis, boasting a large diverse population (including a significant English-speaking contingent), wide array of retail businesses, a major mall, movie-theater, kosher restaurants, fitness centers, entertainment and medical facilities. 

With 24 hour city security, Modi'in is considered one of the safest cities in Israel. Its central location and accessibility to public transportation makes it easy to travel throughout the center and south of Israel. Conveniently located 25km (15miles) from Jerusalem (and Tel Aviv, for that matter), Modi’in provides easy access to everywhere there is to go. 

As a "planned city," Modi’in puts a myriad of recreational amenities at people’s fingertips. Sprinkled generously with parks, sports facilities (basketball, tennis), pools and indoor and outdoor gyms, Modi’in is full of meaningful and enjoyable opportunities.

The Midrasha uses apartments as dormitories. Each apartment has Wi-Fi, heat, A/C, laundry facilities and, of course, bedrooms with closet and storage space for each student. With staff on premises, students share a home and the experiences of daily living. At the end of a day, students can unwind with a ride on one of our bikes or on the couch with friends, playing games or sharing a cup of tea, or a laugh.

Students feel that they have a home during breaks, at night and on Shabbat. Having a home in Israel rather than a bunk in a dorm gives our students a sense of belonging and security.  

The nucleus of Amudim is our Beit Midrash located just a couple of minutes walk from the dorm apartments. Housing an extensive and eclectic library, bright and airy and comfortably furnished with plenty of spaces to hold shiurim, tefillah and activities, the beit midrash is the perfect venue for havruta and habura learning and the lively debates and discussions that occur during our classes.

The Beit Midrash also contains a large kitchen and pinat okhel where students are served 3 meals a day.

 

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24 Nahal Zohar

Modi'in, 717097

www.amudimisrael.org
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