• Guide to Israel Schools

  • Meor Hatorah Seminary

  • Goal of the Program

    The essential message that we want our girls to walk away with, is an understanding that Judaism is not a ritualized religion, but a choice based way of life. That Torah is not there to curb your fun, but to bring you maximized life opportunity, meaning and the possibility of fulfillment of potential. That G-d wants your greatness, not your subservience. We help the girls mature from a robotic, childish observance of Judaism, to a knowledge based ownership for the responsibility and opportunity their freewill offers them.

    Hashkafa
    Goal of Program
    The essential message that we want our girls to walk away with, is an understanding that Judaism is not a ritualized religion, but a choice based way of life. That torah is not there to curb your fun, but to bring you maximized life opportunity, meaning and the possibility of fulfillment of potential. That G-d wants your greatness, not your subservience. We help the girls mature from a robotic, childish observance of Judaism, to a knowledge based ownership for the responsibility and opportunity their freewill offers them. We appreciate that as girls move on in their hashkafic growth, at some point they will be asking themselves, Which camp do I subscribe to? However, in the course of this, their first year, the only camp we are interested in them subscribing to is the G-d and Torah one! Our haskafa is first and foremost to be open and tolerant of all of klal yisrael. Our staff spans the entire Jewish spectrum and everyone respects each other.

    The school’s haskafa is religious Zionist and we have tremendous hakalarat hatov to the Ribbono Shel Olan for all the nissim he has done and continues to do for us daily.

    Attitude towards Israel and Medinat Yisrael

    Our program for Yom Hatzmaut – is at night we have a shiur on the mitzvah of Yishuv Haaretz and a barbeque and watch the fireworks. In the morning after tefillah at the Kotel we go to army bases to distribute care packages to chayalim to thank them for all they do.

    Attitude towards University Studies

    It is a given that our students will go on to universities. We do encourage the girls to find an environment that will be conducive to their continued Jewish growth, but we have not actively dissuaded any girl from following their chosen career paths. YU is among the recommended colleges, and many of our students apply to Touro and Stern.

    Attitude towards Extracurricular Activities

    Extra curricular activities are mandatory. They include one private weekly chesed arrangement (during the girls free time) together with a one weekly commitment to a community service such as food packaging, hospital volunteering or soup kitchen work, which is scheduled into the syllabus. As well as that, we offer a large range of chugim, including basketball, scrap booking, photography, art, baking, kick boxing, gym etc. We also encourage our girls to compete in musical competitions.

    Preparation for Post Israel

    During the lead up to the pesach vacations and at the end of the year, we dedicate many of our classes to the question of going home. Some girls are dealing with the questions of facing the pressures of accusations of become too serious and others, of not becoming serious enough. Some girls are dealing with commitment to halacha in non halachic homes, others are just nervous to give in to the pressure and lose focus. We discuss the balance of being non judgemental towards families, discreet, yet firm in their own decisions etc. We offer them question and answer panels and bring in speakers who have experience with these questions and all questions regarding parent child relationships. As well as that, our girls know that if they need to wake us up to call us for help or support, they absolutely can, and if a girl has a specifically delicate halachic situation, we give her the number of a local, kiruv sensitive rabbi to guide her.

    The "Successful" Student

    In five or more years time, a successful student will not think that growth is for sem girls! She will have taken her continued learning seriously, made good marriage choices, please G-d and will have grown into a position of responsibility in the community. We believe that our girls have a much stronger chance of not getting sucked up in the secular current, if they swim against it actively. Hence, towards the end of the year, we offer kiruv training seminars and opportunities for them to get involved in giving to the community. Our core teachers stay in touch with our alumni so that we can guide them through the next few years and we encourage alumni learning. One of our very popular staff members, will be offering a monthly shiur as he travels to the states regularly.

    Dress

    We aim to teach tsnius, halachically, as a middah and as a way of life over the course of the year. We do not expect our girls to be integrated tsnuot when they arrive, although many of them are. However, we have rules! And those rules mean that a girl whose body is exposed above her knees or above her elbows will be sent home. We understand that some of our girls would still be wearing pants at the beginning of the year, but they are not allowed to be seen in them during the course of their stay in Israel and hopefully, by the end of the year, they no longer need them. We don’t have a dress code or uniform. We don’t insist of stockings or socks and we allow flip flops. We do not allow the wearing of pyjamas underneath skirts in school. Any girl who is reported to have been dressed inappropriately in public, is dealt with at the discretion of the dean.

    Guidance Personnel

    Our staff is primarily chosen for the one on one relationship they are willing to offer. All members of the core staff or senior administration must live locally so that this relationship can blossom. The girls regularly come to local staff members for Shabbat meals. Besides an aim bayit, each girl is assigned a rakezet whose job it is to take her in as a bas bayis, a tutor, who learns with her and one of our senior administrative members is a social worker whose job is purely to look out for the social and psychological wellbeing of the girls. (We have a privately funded account to help sponsor any girl whose therapeutic needs may lie outside of the parameters of the staff’s expertise). As often as we can, we invite our core staff to participate in shabbatonim and trips away. We have found that when staff members are around during informal times, it really gives the everyone a chance to get to know each other better. Personal relationship and warmth is a major point of pride that we have and we attribute our success with our girls to how seriously we treat this area.

    Supervision

    Curfew is the responsibility of the aim bayit, with the support of her madrichot team. We are very strict about it, both for disciplinary and security reasons. All girls must have a talk and save phone so we can send group communications out to everyone. During difficult times, we have put the girls on lock down… although they complain that we lock them down more than other sems do. Any high alert warning from the Israeli security intelligence is an immediate lock down. Attendance is taken in every period and if a girl is absent without having called in to excuse herself, we call her. Our aim bayit is a registered nurse, so we have close medical supervision on site. If girls are given permission to sleep out, they must leave a land line so that we can check on them if necessary. Their free time is their own. However, if any girl is found in a club or pub, that is grounds for immediate expulsion, likewise if we hear that she has consumed alcohol. We do send staff members to town to check on the girls so that they know we are serious about these rules. During vacation time, we are less strict about curfew but we ask the girls to make contact with us on a daily basis so that we do not need to fear for their safety.
    Curriculum
    Makeup
    We do not study Talmud. We offer about twelve courses in tenach, twelve in machshava, one in jewish history and one in current affairs. We offer many halacha classes, a Torah psychology class, a creative writing class, a chassidus class. We have classes that study Rabbis Dessler, Tauber, Tatz and Wolbe.

    Courses Offered
    We do not study Talmud. We offer about twelve courses in tenach, twelve in machshava, one in jewish history and one in current affairs. We offer many halacha classes, a Torah psychology class, a creative writing class, a chassidus class. We have classes that study Rabbis Dessler, Tauber, Tatz and Wolbe.

    Daily Schedule
    No information provided

    Language of Instruction
    All our classes take place in English.

    Ulpan or Hebrew Class

    We offer a two tiered Ulpan programmme for higher and lower levels.

    Assessment and Grading

    We do not offer examinations, but twice a year we hand out four assignments for the girls to do. Some are compulsory, others are chosen topics. These contribute to the overall grades of the girls, as well as the girls’ attendance and punctuality records.

    Shana Bet

    We strongly encourage shana bet, even if girls are only able to stay for one semester. In general, most girls recognize by the end of their first year, how much they have prepared themselves for another year, so that by the time they come to shana bet, they are really ready for what we have to offer, so they grow tremendously. This year, half of the shana aleph girls expressed an interest in the shana bet programme, of which we are expecting ten. The girls are accredited for their studies with us and receive transcripts twice a year.

    Joint Program

    No information provided
    Staff
    The Dean is Mrs Ilana Cowland of Har Nof. She has many years experience dealing with outreach education and also has a counseling diploma.

    The Mashgiach is Rabbi Hillel Karesh who has taught in seminaries for several years and is a close talmid of Rav Miller, who we go to for our halalchic shailos.
    His wife, Mrs Rachel Karesh, is a trained social worker whose job is supervision of the girls and supervision of the rakazot. The aim bayit is Daniella Dykeman, a registered nurse.
    As aforementioned, all senior staff members and all rakazot live locally to the school.

    Amongst are faculty members, we are privilege to have Rabbi Appelbaum, Rabbi Teller, Rabbi Cowland (who is also our senior educational advisor) Rabbi Nissel, Rabbi Horn, Rabbi Wagensburg, Mrs Halberstadt (nee Tatz) Mrs Hamilton (nee Kimche) Mrs Lurie, Mrs Silber and Rabbi and Mrs Levi and Rochayl Orbach.
    Extra-Curricular Activities
    Interaction with Israelis
    We are away at a different community every two months, where the girls experience the community by meeting and talking to members of the community. Last year we experienced Chitspin, Chevron, amongst others. We have not encouraged or discouraged the attendance of rallies. If the girls have parental permission and it does not clash with their school day, they are welcome to join in.

    Special Informal programs
    Every other Tuesday, we run a mini-series in which we expose the girls to different seminars about Judaism or Israeli politics or other matters of interest. Before any major chag, we offer classes to prepare the girls.

    Sports Facilities
    No information provided

    Programming for Shabbat and Yom Tov
    Every other month, when we are not away on a shabbaton, we are home on a shabbaton, culminating in our end of year leadership shabbos whence the girls are given a budget and run the shabbos entirely by themselves. They arrange the décor, provide the food, set up the logistics, invite the guests and speakers single handedly. If girls want to stay home they can, they have a kitchen and often cater for themselves. There are plenty of local staff members happy to host them. If they want to be placed in Har Nof, the sem offers that service. And if for any reason they want to stay home and have it catered, we have provided that service as well. Succos, the girls are free to stay in the dorms or not. We do not host in meals, but the girls who want to stay home, know to call faculty members for meals, including second day meals. During Chol Hamoed, we offer optional tiyulim, a trip to birkas kohanim, a simchas beis hashoeiva. Over Pesach, we run an optional programme, which is not covered by tuition, including food, tiyulim and special classes. The dorms remain open regardless all through the year. Girls who choose to sleep out over chagim, must let us know where they are and are asked to make daily contact. Madrichot are responsible for this communication.

    Field Trips
    We try to take the Israel experience outside the classroom as often as possible. On Yom Hatzmaut we went to Masada, on Yom HaShoah, we went to Yad Vashem and invited a Holocaust survivor to share her story. On Erev Succos, we went to Meah Shearim! In fact, we visit some part of Israel every two weeks when we run a half day tiyul, apart from three overnight tiyul that run through the year. The goal of these tiyulim is to expose the beauty and rich history of the land to the girls. we find that this truly serves to deepen their jewish pride and deepen their connection to and love of eretz yisrael.
    Eligibility
    Level of Learning Offered
    No information provided

    Hebrew Knowledge Required
    Beginner - shiurim are mainly in English

    Religious Observance Required
    Our school rules demand public (which includes in the dorms) adherence to mitsvot. However, we do not hold it against students who have not yet reached such a level in their personal lives or who are struggling with commitment and expression of commitment. On the contrary, we encourage girls to be honest about where they are really holding, so that they can really ask the questions they need to. But we are located in a religious community and the vast majority of our students are already shomer torah umitsvos, so we do not tolerate displays of lack of commitment such as the breaking of shabbos in the dorms, the wearing of immodest clothing in public etc.
    Population
    Type of American Student
    Apart from New York, we have students from Chicago, LA, Philadelphia, Arizona, Baltimore, Silver Spring, etc.

    Overall Number of Students (Kollel, Israeli, Foreign)
    45- We have about thirty five students in our first year programme and ten in our second year programming.

    Foreign Student Percentage
    The majority of our students are American.

    Number of 1st Year American Students
    35

    Number of 2nd Year American Students
    10

    Other Nationalities
    We have a handful of European and South African students. Everyone is English speaking.

    Number of Students per Class
    Most classes are divided in two, so on average, there are seventeen people per class.
    Accommodations
    Living Quarters
    The girls live in residential apartments, equipped with kitchen(including refrigerator, oven, toaster oven and microwave) and living room. The girls also have washing machines and token operated dryers. They are usually housed three to a room and sometimes four, depending on the size. The security department in sha’aarei tsedek, recommend against having two in a room. We ask the girls who they would like to live with ahead of time and respect their wishes by trying to put them in close proximity to their friends, but we have found that very good friends do not make healthy room mates and besides, part of the sem experience is to learn to live with new people. Permission to host guests is granted, when appropriate. By the aim habayit.

    Availability of Private Kitchen Facilities
    Each residential apartment is equipped with a kitchen (including refrigerator, oven, toaster oven, and microwave).

    Facility use during Shabbat and Yom Tov
    We are together every month over Shabbat and the girls are welcome to stay home all through the year.

    Curfew
    When they do go out, they must leave a phone number with their madricha. Girls staying home Friday night, need not abide by a curfew, but are asked to be sensitive to their sleeping neighbours.

    Security Arrangements
    Apart from the talk and save phone arrangements, the girls live in residential building and have the security of neighbours as well as staff members who live very close by. There is a security guard situated on the road the school is located on. The girls are not restricted in travel and we are happy to allow them to do as much as their parents allow. Girls who do not receive permission to attend certain programmes are not allowed to participate. As previously stated, the school is strict about lock down when there is a terror alert and all senior staff members have American numbers on their phones, as well as the school e-mail address should they wish to be in touch. On the rare occasion where the school was in close proximity to an actual incident, we asked all the girls to call or text their parents to let them know we were unaffected by the incident.
    History
    The founders of the school noticed, when recruiting for previous commitments, that there is a niche in the seminary market that does not cater for the girls who has behavioural maturity, but not necessarily hashkafic maturity. That means, that her issues with G-d’s existence or the reasons behind shabbos do not mean that she is acting rebelliously nor that she wants to spend a year with girls who are, but that never the less preclude her from the type of seminary that takes all these hashkafic basics for granted in its student body and therefore does not necessarily pay these questions that much time or attention. Those girls find a relief in our school. We are based in har nof, where the community is religious, but accepting and non stifling and where the girls enjoy the benefit of the fact that the vast majority of our core staff live there and welcome the girls into their homes.
    Accrediting Universities
    HTC, Touro and MJIA – Our credits have been accepted at most universities worldwide.
    Tuition
    $17750 – (for 07 –08)
    This includes all classes, programming, and accommodation as well as three meals per day.
    Additional Information
    We are looking for intelligent and mature girls who are honestly looking for real answers as far as their yiddishkeit is concerned, but who are ready to abide by our rules. It’s a place where one’s mind is free, even if one’s body is not. Many of our staff members are experienced kiruv workers who are at their happiest when posed a truly challenging question. We want girls to feel that they have grappled with their issues and truly own their relationship with their freewill. We offer a tremendously warm and intimate environment and our staff give of themselves 110% to each girl in and out of the classroom.
    May Hashem bless us to continue to see nachas from our students.

    For specific information, we can be also be accessed on info@meorhatorah.com We also send out a newsletter to parents every month and we believe the girls have created a website for prospective meor hatorah students….but you’ll have to ask them!
    Contact Information
    Website: www.meorhatorah.com
    E-mail: admissions@meorhatorah.com

    Phone: 011 972 2 651-9126

    8 Aleph Rechov Zerach Barnet
    Har Nof Jerusalem
    Israel

    Location:
    Har Nof Jerusalem

    Total Student Population:
    45

    Learning Level:
    Beginner

    Hebrew knowledge required:
    Beginner

    Rosh Yeshiva:
    The Dean is Mrs Ilana Cowland

Yeshiva University
500 West 185th Street
New York, NY 10033
212.960.5400

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