Midreshet Torah V’Avodah
Midreshet Torah V’Avodah (MTVA), under the auspices of Bnei Akiva of North America, World Bnei Akiva, and in partnership with Matan, draws on over 75 years of combined experience of Religious Zionist education in Israel. The young women who join TVA are looking for an immersive and intensive growth experience preparing them for the rest of their lives in a broad and integrated fashion--they want to learn at a high level, but they believe that authentic Jewish learning must break out of the four walls of a Beit midrash.
Along with focused in-depth Torah study with the most impressive teachers in all of Israel, TVA opens its students up to Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael through targeted internships, intense volunteering and service learning, living and working on Kibbutz, exploring pivotal issues facing the future of the Jewish people, rigorous spoken-Hebrew language training, and exciting tiyulim throughout the year. All of these experiences are infused with rigorous Torah learning and apartment living in the dynamic community of Katamonim in Jerusalem.
Goal of Program
TVA is founded upon the values on Bnei Akiva and Modern Orthodoxy. TVA envisions Jewish learning in the broadest sense, including the following:
- Serious study and skills building of Talmud, Tanach, Halakha, and Jewish philosophy at the highest level with world-renowned educators at MATAN.
- Study of Religious Zionism and deep exposure to the political and cultural systems of Israel
- Immersive and intense Hebrew language education
- Experiential education including trips, volunteerism, project-based learning, and leadership training
- Integration of Torah with classics of Western literature and thought—thus modeling future learning in college and beyond in which immersion in Torah learning will be impossible. This will set the students up for success as they look back at their gap year and attempt to emulate this in future years.
Attitude Towards Israel and Medinat Yisrael
TVA and Bnei Akiva firmly believe in the ideal of “Am Yisrael b’Eretz Yisrael al-pi Torat Yisrael,” that the Jewish people are meant to live in the Land of Israel according to the laws of the Torah. Everything that we do at TVA is based on this premise. Everyone on our staff is a true lover of Eretz Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael, and they are eager to share this love with the talmidot.
Attitude Towards University Studies
TVA is proud that many of its students attend top universities in the United States, Canada and Israel. Toward the end of the academic year we spend a significant amount of time providing those attending secular universities with the tools needed to succeed there and to take leadership roles in their campus societies.
Attitude Towards Extracurricular Activities
At TVA, Extra-curricular activities are not “extra,” but an integrated part of the holistic and broad educational model of Torah v’Avodah. TVA is committed to its mission of providing high level Torah study, combined with a plethora of activities outside of the Beit Midrash. Nothing at TVA takes place in a vacuum; everything is part of a well thought out course of limud Torah, activities that will guarantee that you fall in love with the land of Israel and the people of Israel, and service to Am Yisrael. This includes tiyulim throughout the country, working on a kibbutz, volunteering once a week in various “chesed” settings, one week of teaching English in development towns in the south, 1 month of targeted internships in Jerusalem businesses and organizations and much, much more.
Preparation for Post Seminary
We view the year at Midreshet Torah V’Avodah as a springboard for life as a Jewish woman. We strive to help each student make smart choices for the future and to give them the tools to actualize those choices in the most self-fulfilling way possible. For students who go to universities outside of Israel, we spend considerable time discussing ways to give to and receive from the Jewish communities on campuses. A considerable number of our students choose to stay in Israel, doing National Service (Sheirut Leumi) or joining the IDF or attending Israeli universities. Those students instantly become part of the Bnei Akiva family in Israel.
At MTVA, we strive to create a very special religious atmosphere. Part of this atmosphere involves the kinds of clothes our participants wear. We therefore enforce specific guidelines for dress code. The MTVA dress code is to be followed at all times, even while on vacation, free Shabbatot, and on tiyulim. Additionally, since the apartment building is shared with others, the dress code also must be followed in the hallways, on the terraces, and in any other public areas.
- All skirts must cover the knee.
- Skirt slits may not extend above the knees.
- Tight fitting skirts, mini-skirts, pants, and shorts are not permissible.
- Shirts must be styled modestly, not tight, shirtsleeves must reach the elbow, and necklines must approach the collarbone.
- Tank tops, sleeveless shirts, cap sleeves, low cut shirts or tight fitting shirts may not be worn. Shirts and shirt sleeves must be long enough and high enough that no midriff, underarms, or cleavage is exposed when you are standing, sitting or as a result of regular movement. Sheer and lace tops are also not permitted.
- No body piercings other than earrings are permissible.
- No dying of hair in an unusual way
- Underwear may not be showing at any time.
- No writing across the rear end is allowed on any clothing.
TVA has trail blazed a new attitude toward guidance during the year in Israel. Our staff is extremely hands-on. The administration, the Em-bayit, the Rakezet, the madrichot, the guidance counselor, and many of the teachers are extremely well acquainted with each and every student. In addition to formal, scheduled meetings, there are constant discussions between various staff members to make sure that every student is getting what she needs at all times. In addition, the staff is extremely accessible to the students and they feel very comfortable coming to them at any time when they have an issue or challenge to deal with.
We also offer a wide variety of mental health services. Guidance counselor, Dina Kessler, M.Sc., heads the team and directs both the formal and informal services. In terms of formal services, the students are offered a course in Torah and psychology which presents key concepts in mental wellness through a Torah lens. We focus on how to make behavioral changes in a way that allows the students to integrate the concepts of middot with practical methods of habit change. As part of our behavioral growth program, we also have our students take the VIA strength assessment to identify and highlight their strengths. This can be especially helpful in the leadership components of our program, where a student can use this information to tailor their leadership style and contributions.
Additionally, our Mashgichot Ruchaniyot, Rabbanit Shani Taragin, Rabbanit Nechama Goldman Barash, and Dr. Tamara Spitz, run weekly small group processing workshops to encourage reflection and deliberation on crucial religious issues that arise during the seminary year. Furthermore, the guidance counselor and Mashgichot schedule individual meetings with students and open office hours. The support staff is thereby able to assist students in working through personal challenges and to guide each student towards maximizing his or her potential and character. In cases where a student requires more extensive mental health services, we have a network of private licensed practitioners, with whom we refer, and contacts at The Family Institute of Nevey Yerushalayim when finances are an issue.
MTVA is a program that nurtures independent adults within a structured framework. Students live in wonderful apartments in the heart of Jerusalem and are integrated into the local community and synagogues. An Eim Bayit (house mother), Educational Director, and a staff of madrichot (counselors) help them navigate the transition to independent adulthood successfully. Students walk to shul and the beit midrash and shop in the neighborhood. At the same time, there is a nightly curfew and there is a zero tolerance policy for alcohol.
Please navigate to http://www.tvaisrael.org/daily-schedule.html for a sample schedule.
Along with this schedule, students have the option of attending the amazing classes that are given to the larger Matan community. All of our classes incorporate preparatory work in the Beit Midrash in order to build independent learning skills.
In additional to consistent shiurim (courses) offered in Hebrew, we offer an immersive Ulpan course to focus on hebrew language training
Assessment and Grading
There are generally no exams at TVA--students are assessed by their ability to prepare a shiur and deliver it using the methodologies from their shiurim, thus demonstrating and honing their own abilities for the future. Transcripts are provided to all students upon requests.
Students are offered the option of integrating Sherut Leumi with learning for their Shana Bet.
Midreshet Torah V’Avodah is one of many programs affiliated with the Joint Israel Program at Yeshiva University/Stern College.
Please navigate to http://www.tvaisrael.org/meet-our-staff.html for a list of our incredible staff.
At TVA, Extra-curricular activities are not “extra,” but an integrated part of the holistic and broad educational model of Torah v’Avodah. TVA is committed to its mission of providing high level Torah study, combined with a plethora of activities outside of the Beit Midrash. Nothing at TVA takes place in a vacuum; everything is part of a well thought out course of limud Torah, activities that will guarantee that you fall in love with the land of Israel and the people of Israel, and service to Am Yisrael. This includes tiyulim throughout the country, intensive on-site Israel advocacy training, working on a kibbutz, volunteering once a week in various “chessed” settings, one week of teaching English in development towns in the south, Leadership training in politics and economics, targeted internships in Jerusalem businesses and organizations, Magen David Adom courses and much, much more.
There are three models of Shabbatot on TVA:
- In-Shabbatot, where students stay in their apartments in Jerusalem with programming, meals, and ruach. Part of these shabbatot includes home hospitality at local families in the neighborhood.
- Shabbatonim, where we go to various important destinations in Israel, such as Tzfat, or join with all of the World Bnei Akiva programs for special programming.
- Out Shabbatot (approximately half of the time), when students can visit friends or family, or stay in their own apartments, with the em bayit helping secure them meals at local host families.
The apartments belong to the young women for the year--they are available at any time and the em bayit is always on call to help arrange meals for Chagim. TVA students also have special programming for Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and can take advantage of special programming during the month of Nissan.
Level of Learning Offered
Intermediate and Advanced
Hebrew Knowledge Required
Religious Observance Required
Students must be fully committed to Shmirat Torah u'Mitzvot
Type of American Student
Our students come from all over the US and Canada, as well as Europe. Our enrollment is capped at 45. Classes range from small seminar-type classes to large lectures that are part of the general Matan community shiurim. Hundreds of women pass through Matan on a weekly basis for high-level learning in Tanach, Machshava, Halakha, and Gemara.
MTVA is based in MATAN’s lovely and modern 3 story building in the Katamonim neighborhood of Jerusalem. There is a large auditorium, a well stocked Beit Midrash/library, classrooms and a spacious lounge where the girls eat lunch and dinner every day. In the Beit Midrash there are accessible computers equipped with access to online research sites and the Bar Ilan CD as well as other online judaica libraries.
The apartment building, a 1 minute walk from MATAN, is situated on convenient bus lines, within walking distance of major supermarkets, gyms, and parks where the students are able to exercise and relax. Girls have 1-2 roommates and about 6 apartment mates. The madrichot live in the apartments with the students and are a guiding force in helping to create a comfortable and Torani environment. While the students are expected to keep their apartments and personal space clean, there is a cleaner once a week for the communal living space, kitchen and bathrooms.
Living in an apartment building with Israeli families for neighbors exposes the students to what it is like to really live in Jerusalem. They have the independence of living on their own with the comfort of having a support system through the madrichot, Eim Bayit, and staff.
This setup for the apartments is reflective of our education goals of training them towards independent living and ownership of their own religious and personal growth. At the same time, having everyone in one building is wonderful, as it helps facilitate the forming of a close and cohesive group.
The Eim Bayit’s family lives on the first floor of the building giving the students enough independence while at the same time having a constant address for any concerns.
Each apartment has a fully equipped kitchen for milk and meat. While a meat lunch and pareve or dairy dinner are provided every day the students still have the facilities to cook for themselves and learn about keeping a kosher kitchen.
Laundry facilities are spread throughout the apartments.
Shabbatot and Chagim
At MTVA we strive to make every Shabbat and Chag a beautiful and spiritual experience, including those which don’t have any official programming. Although students are always encouraged to go out to different places for free Shabbatot and any chagim we are not together, the apartments are always available for them, including during Sukkot and Pesach vacations. There is always either a madricha or the Eim Bayit on premises and the students are encouraged to join them for meals, or be set up around the community. When we spend Shabbat as a group in the apartments we have some meals together, and for others we facilitate the students going to families in the neighborhood to help them feel even more like they are part of the community.
The safety and security of our students is our number one concern. To that end we have security guards and/or cameras monitoring the school building and apartments, both at the entrances and in the hallways. There is also an electronic combination lock at the entrance to the apartments, and each apartment is locked with a key. On tiyulim we are accompanied by an armed guard, according to the strictest protocols of MASA and the Israeli Ministry of Education. Both buildings have fully functioning miklatim (specially reinforced rooms) that students are shown in orientation. In case of a terror attack we have a phone system and whatsapp group in place to quickly locate each of our students.
There is a nightly curfew to ensure we are aware of each student’s whereabouts every night.
Bnei Akiva is at the forefront of Religious Zionist education for youth, by youth. We have chapters across the United States, Canada, and the world over. Bnei Akiva school–year and summer educational programming takes participants and members from childhood through the college years.
Bnei Akiva is the premier religious Zionist youth movement dedicated to growing generations of Jews committed to building a society devoted to Torah and the Jewish people in the state of Israel.
For over 80 years, World Bnei Akiva (WBA) has been a leading provider of informal Jewish education for children and young adults around the globe, focusing on religious Zionism with its message of love of Torah, the Jewish People and the Land of Israel.
WBA teaches its members leadership skills, empowering them to become the next generation of Jewish leaders and social activists in their local communities and Israel.
Midreshet Torah V’Avodah (TVA) is the culmination of a years-long dream of Bnei Akiva of North America. The movement was missing a serious gap year program, and felt that without one it was impossible to fulfill the mission of educating its youth in the values of Torah V’Avodah. It took many years of careful planning and of seeking out excellent people to initiate and run the program, before it came to fruition in the fall of 2014. TVA is proud to offer extremely high level Torah learning taught by leading educators. Midreshet Torah V’Avodah is located in Matan, the prominent institution for women’s advanced Torah studies that has just celebrated its 25th year.
MTVA is a Yeshiva University S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program School.
Tution for the 2018-2019 year is 93,000 NIS.
In the US:
MIDRESHET TORAH V'AVODAH
Bnei Akiva of the US and Canada
520 8th Avenue, 15th Fl
New York NY 10018
Phone: (212) 465-9536
Fax: (212) 216-9578
MIDRESHET TORAH V'AVODAH
30 Rashbag St.