Stella K. Abraham Beit Midrash for Women Migdal Oz—S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program
The Beit Midrash for Women was founded in order to create a dynamic learning community for young women seeking to enhance their spiritual development through intensive, high-level Torah study.
The Beit Midrash for Women was founded in order to create a dynamic learning community for young women seeking to enhance their spiritual development through intensive, high-level Torah study. The program for overseas students is completely integrated into the Israeli program and is ideal for students with a serious commitment to Torah study who wish to progress in their Avodat Hashem and make a contribution to Am Yisrael while developing a strong kesher with Eretz Yisrael. The serious limmud, combined with the spiritually-uplifting ruach which permeates the Beit Midrash on a daily basis, and particularly on Shabbat and chagim, create an all-encompassing, unparalleled experience which will impact on the students for the rest of their lives.
The Beit Midrash for Women was established by the Roshei Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion, Harav Yehuda Amital and Harav Aharon Lichtenstein, who together with Roshei Yeshiva Harav Yaakov Medan and Harav Baruch Gigi, render guidance and educational expertise on an ongoing basis. The Beit Midrash is dedicated to fostering a synthesis between high-level, intensive and challenging Torah study, the spiritual quest for self-realization and the acceptance of communal responsibility for Am Yisrael. Students are expected to devote many hours and great diligence to their studies. The time spent in the Beit Midrash is very extensive, both in terms of the number of study hours and the inclusion of Shabbatot and Chagim as integral parts of the program. The high level and great breadth of the curriculum creates a comprehensive "learning community" for women at this prime stage in their lives.
Attitude towards Israel and Medinat Yisrael
The Beit Midrash for Women is a totally Israeli program in which the students from overseas are fully integrated. Israeli students serve the country in the context of Sherut Leumi (National Service), either before or after their Beit Midrash studies. Yom Ha'atzmaut is celebrated as a religious holiday, with festive tefillot, a seuda, and singing and dancing.
Attitude towards University Studies
Students are encouraged to attend university with the goal of being the pursuit of the best possible education they can obtain in the area of study which interests them and in which they can make an important contribution to society in general, and to Jewish society in particular. The Beit Midrash is aware of the challenges involved in interacting with the secular world and these issues are discussed at length with the Ramim and teachers over the course of the year in various contexts. Most of the Israeli students attend Bar Ilan University or Hebrew University. Some American students choose to remain in Israel to do Sherut Leumi (National Service) or for University, while others attend Stern College, U. of Penn, Columbia University, Brandeis University, and others.
Attitude towards Extracurricular Activities
Beyond the intensive study program, considerable effort is devoted to developing vibrant religious experiences on a daily basis. Confronting the topic of tefilla and emuna, Shabbatot and Chagim, are inseparable components of the Beit Midrash. Each Chag is preceded by special shiurim that are often given by guest speakers, focusing on different aspects of the holiday. The overall atmosphere helps strengthen the students' progression in Avodat Hashem, nurtures a sense of responsibility and commitment towards Am Yisrael, and provides an all-encompassing educational and growing experience. Informal discussion groups and chugim take place on a frequent basis with teachers, madrichot and older students. There are also evenings of spirited singing, animated Rosh Chodesh, Yom Ha'atzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim celebrations and much more, which all combine to have a profound and lasting effect on each student. Students participate in chessed activities, such as learning b'chevruta with children from Kibbutz Migdal Oz or volunteering with physically-challenged children and with the elderly. The Beit Midrash as a whole visits Beit Feuerstein in Jerusalem for physically-challenged children, senior citizen homes and schools in development areas, where they lead Rosh Chodesh and pre-holiday celebrations.
Preparation for Post Israel
While the year in Israel emphasizes intense Torah study, the message which we try to impart to the students is that the year in Israel is not separate from what comes after, but rather preparation for a lifetime of Torah study and a Torah way of life. The Ramim devote much time to discussing relevant issues with the students and are always available for guidance and to answer questions which may arise. The American students have separate chugim which discuss relevant issues pertaining specifically to them, such as aliya and secular college.
The "Successful" Student
The Beit Midrash strives to transmit the message to each student that her religious world constitutes the most significant part of her life. A "successful" alumna will continue to be God-fearing with a love of and commitment to Torah which will grow from year to year. We hope our alumnae will maximize their potential through advanced study and by making their unique contribution utilizing their special talents and abilities. A successful alumna will take what she received in the Beit Midrash, develop her skills and talents, and make a meaningful contribution to Am Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael wherever she chooses to live.
Students are expected to dress in accordance with accepted halachic standards, including elbow-length sleeves and knee-covering skirts, creating a modest appearance, thereby respecting kedushat ha'makom and the presence of the rabbis.
Guidance personnel: Esti Rosenberg, the head of the Beit Midrash, is a wonderful role model for the students, and is available for discussion and advice. The Roshei Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion are the halachic poskim and spiritual and educational guides for the Beit Midrash. The rabbis and teachers, both male and female, interact with the students through study, discussions and extra-curricular activities, each a unique personality with different areas of expertise to share. The madrichot live on campus and the students benefit by the presence of older students, in their third or fourth year of study in the Beit Midrash, who connect with the students on a daily basis both in the Beit Midrash and outside of it.
Students are expected to be self-motivated, responsible and mature individuals. Therefore, there is no curfew and no attendance taken.
The course of study focuses on four major areas: Gemara, Halacha, Machshava and Tanach. The program is unique in that the bulk of study revolves around the Beit Midrash. There is an emphasis on chevruta-study. Some of the classes are frontal lectures while others are guided classes that include both intensive, independent preparation in the Beit Midrash and time spent in active discussion.
The daily learning in the Beit Midrash is divided into three main components. Mornings are devoted to intense learning of Gemara B'Iyun, afternoons to shiurim on many different areas of learning, and nights to chevruta learning in programs of Gemara and Machshava Bekiyut. A faculty member assists each student in building her personal balanced schedule according to her specific needs and desires.
Gemara B'Iyun (In-depth study) - Three mornings a week are devoted to Gemara, emphasizing understanding the sugya from beginning to end, from Torah She'b'chtav, mishna and following the chain of mesora of Torah she'be'al'pe through the Rishonim, Acharonim until the halacha of our day. Great effort is invested in aiding mastery of the Aramaic language and the acquisition of skills. Most of this learning takes place in the Beit Midrash b'chevruta with the Ram present to answer questions and help wherever necessary. After chevruta preparation, the group gets together for a shiur in Gemara b'iyun wherein the Rabbi deepens the learning of the sugya while taking the learning a few steps ahead. The Beit Midrash offers a selection of advanced level shiurim.
Extensive Study of Tanach (bekiyut) - This class entails energetic study, either individually or with a chevruta, at the rate of five chapters per day, with the goal of covering the entire Tanach in the course of the year. Students prepare during the week and class time is devoted to overview and analysis of each sefer, in terms of structure, content and ideology. Afternoon Study - There is a great variety of shiurim offered on topics in Halacha, Machshava, Chassidut and Tanach. Each shiur focuses on different texts and emphasizes different approaches. The smaller shiurim are characterized by more discussion, while shiurim with more preparation tend to be more interactive. In the beginning of the year, the students are advised to attend all shiurim and before the winter, each students builds her own personalized schedule of shiurim and chevrutot. There is always learning going on in the Beit Midrash and there are always teachers and more advanced students present to assist, guide and answer questions.
Night Seder - Two main programs:
Extensive Gemara study (bekiyut) - Every evening, five days per week, the students learn b'chevruta, with the aim of covering two pages of Gemara per week. The main goal is completing a Masechet through the acquisition of self-study skills. This includes a basic vocabulary in Aramaic, familiarity with canonical models of development of sugyot in the Gemara, and identification of key words that mark the course of the sugya: question, response, proof, conclusion, etc. The classes in the early weeks include directed reading of the Gemara; as concepts are assimilated, students are able to focus on the in-depth study of fundamental topics that arise in the text with an emphasis on practical ramifications. Learning is fostered through the use of sources from the Rishonim and Acharonim, commentaries of the Gemara and Responsa literature. The weekly shiur provides added perspective and depth.
Bekiyut Machshava - (Overview of Jewish Thought) - Guided self-study takes places 8-10 hours per week during night seder, accompanied by a review class. Through this class, students become familiar with the fundamentals of the philosophies of the great Jewish thinkers throughout Jewish history, through an analysis of methodological and substantive characteristics of their philosophies.
Oral Law and Halacha
Introduction to Oral Law
The Laws of Berachot
The Laws of Shabbat
Practical Topics in Halacha
Sugyot Bein Adam L'Chavero
The Mitzvot of Women
Wide range of classes in Tanach
Shiur that guides Bekiyut Tanach Program
Jewish Thought: Through exposure to Hassidic texts and texts of modern philosophers, the focus is on theological and philosophical questions dealt with in these books, aimed at internalizing the learning and its relevance to our lives and our avodat Hashem. Rav Tzadok Hacohen of Lublin; Reb Nachman of Breslov; Nefesh HaChaim (Reb Chaim of Volozhin) and Orot HaTorah (Rav Kook), Aggadot Chazal; Midrash; Rav Kook; and Sefat Emet (the Gerrer Rebbe).
8:30 am - 12:45 pm - Morning Seder
12:45 pm - 2:45 pm - Lunch and Break
2:45 pm - 7:30 pm - Shiurim and chevruta time
7:30 pm - 8:30 pm - Dinner and Break
8:30 pm - 10:30 pm (and later) - Night Seder
The Beit Midrash offers many programs. The goal is to build a balanced personal learning schedule to enable maximal individual growth according to each student's individual needs and preferences. While structured, the program allows for some flexibility in terms of which shiurim to take and which framework of learning is preferred (smaller learning groups, chevruta -study, etc.)
There is a set time in the schedule for Shacharit and Mincha in the Beit Midrash. During the week, students daven individually while on Rosh Chodesh and Kabbalat Shabbat, they daven as a group. On Shabbat, students daven in the kibbutz shul. Three meals a day are provided.
Language of Instruction
All classes are in Hebrew and while it is a struggle for the American students for the first month or two, they quickly acclimate and greatly benefit by the Israeli learning environment.
Ulpan or Hebrew Class
There are no Hebrew language or Ulpan classes offered.
Assessment and Grading
No grades are given and attendance is not taken in class. Students receive credit from certain universities, such as Stern College and Bar Ilan University.
“Shana Bet”: There is a formal Shana Bet program, as well as Shana Gimmel and Dalet, and students are encouraged to stay for further study. There are currently 25 second-year students and another 15 in their 3rd or 4th years of study. Most students in the advanced program combine their studies with university study or are enrolled in the Teacher Training Program in the Beit Midrash in conjunction with Herzog College. The Beit Midrash has recently been accredited by Israel's Ministry of Education to grant academic degrees in education through the Yaacov Herzog College of Yeshivat Har Etzion. The Beit Midrash aspires to create a continuum of study and spiritual growth for women between the ages of 18 and 25 (including 1-2 years of Sherut Leumi). Students from abroad often return during winter break to study in the Beit Midrash.
No information provided
There is a joint program with Yeshiva University / Stern College for Women.
Esti Rosenberg is the head of the Beit Midrash. She is
married to Rav Herzl Rosenberg, is the mother of seven children, and daughter
of Rav Aharon and Dr. Tovah Lichtenstein.
The Poskim of the school are the Roshei Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion - Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, Rav Yaakov Medan, Rav Moshe Lichtenstein and Rav Baruch Gigi, in path of the late Rav Yehudah Amital.
The majority of the educational staff teach at Yeshivat Har Etzion and the Herzog College.
Ramim: Mrs. Naomi Adler, Rav Ze'ev Friedman, Rav Netanel Buchs, Rav Meir Nehorai, Rav Avishay Shreiber, Mrs. Dina Nagar, Mrs. Chani Kleiman.
Mashgicha: Mrs. Shayna Goldberg.
Overseas Director: Mrs. Racheli Schmell.
Mrs. Shani Taragin, Rav Yuval Cherlow, Ms. Or Machluf, Rav Elchanan Samet, Mr. Tani Feintuch, Rav Reuven Tubul, Mrs. Efrat Koslovsky, Mrs. Malka Puetrekovsky, Rav Amnon Bazak, Rav Aviezer Cohen, Rav Baruch Gigi, Dr. Yonatan Grossman, Rav Dan Hauser, Rav Yaakov Medan, Rav Chaim Navon, Rav Yehoshua Reiss, Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon, Rav Moshe Taragin, Dr. Shmuel Wygoda and Dr. Yael Ziegler.
This program is unique in that it is a completely Israeli program. Overseas students are fully integrated into the Israeli program. Both the classes and the dormitories are mixed. Therefore, there is maximum interaction between the overseas and Israeli students and close friendships are developed over the year. Being a part of an Israeli Beit Midrash, located in Kibbutz Migdal Oz, overseas students step into an Israeli community and live and breathe Israeli culture and politics. When not in the Beit Midrash, students are invited to the homes of Israeli students for Shabbat, enabling them to become acquainted with differing communities in Israel. Guest lectures are invited to address timely issues affecting Israeli society. Whether or not to attend rallies with a political agenda is an individual decision.
Special Informal programs
A minyan for Selichot, dancing on Simchat Torah, all-night learning on Hoshana Rabba and Shavuot, Chanuka, Purim and Rosh Chodesh celebrations, enhance the students' spiritual growth and contribute to the special Ruach and atmosphere which characterize the Beit Midrash. Each Chag is preceded by special shiurim that are often given by guest speakers, focusing on different aspects of the chag.
There is an indoor pool and gym in nearby Alon Shevut with separate hours for those who wish to avail themselves. Many students run or jog along the paths of the kibbutz. There is also a basketball court on the kibbutz.
Programming for Shabbat and Yom Tov
An important aspect of the religious community life of the Beit Midrash is Shabbat and Chagim. Every second Shabbat is spent in the Beit Midrash with one of the rabbis or teachers, and periodic Shabbatonim are held at the homes of the Ramim. Arrangements are made to ensure that everyone has a place to be during the breaks. This year, the school davened as a group on Yom Kippur, but not on Rosh Hashana.
The Beit Midrash as a whole has a trip at the beginning of the year and a two-day tiyul in the middle of the year. There are also educational trips on Asara Be'Tevet, Yom Hazikaron and Yom Yerushalayim. In addition, overseas students have a major tiyul during the Sukkot and Pesach breaks and shorter tiyulim throughout the year. The goal is both educational and social.
Advanced – able to independently study a Talmudic passage
Hebrew Knowledge Required
Advanced – shiurim are mainly in Hebrew
Religious Observance Required
A full commitment to shmirat Torah U’mitzvot is a prerequisite
Many North American students are from the New York and New Jersey area. They attended high school at Maayanot, Central, Stella K. Abraham, Bruria, Kushner, Ramaz, Flatbush, SAR and others. There also have been students from other areas of the U.S., including Atlanta, Seattle, Chicago, Cleveland, Miami and Philadelphia.
Overall Number of Students (Kollel, Israeli, Foreign)
130 (90 first year and 40 in the Advanced Program). 30 students are enrolled in the Bachelor of Education program.
Foreign Student Percentage
Number of 1st Year American Students
Number of 2nd Year American Students
3 from Canada, 3 from England
Number of Students per Class
Class size varies, ranging from 10 to over 40. Each kevutza (group) of approximately 30 students has one Ram (or Ramit) and 1 or 2 madrichot.
The students live in modern dormitory rooms on campus, with air-conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter. Each dormitory unit is designed for four girls, with a small kitchenette, a bedroom and full bathroom. We recommend that overseas students dorm with only Israeli roommates, at least one of whom will be an English-speaker. Guests are welcome. There is frequent transportation to Jerusalem, and Efrat is a five minute walk away.
Availability of Private Kitchen Facilities
Three full meals are provided in the dining room on campus.
Facility use during Shabbat and Yom Tov
Students spend alternate Shabbatot in the Beit Midrash and when not in the Beit Midrash, American students are invited to spend Shabbat at the homes of Israeli students. The Beit Midrash is closed on Sukkot and Pesach, although arrangements can be made for those who wish to stay in their rooms.
There is no curfew
The Beit Midrash has a security head who is responsible for creating security policy, guard duty and all other safety issues. He guides the students in security drills and is on continuous contact with the army. The Beit Midrash is located within Kibbutz Migdal Oz, which is surrounded by an electronic security fence, and an additional fence was built around the entire campus for added protection. Three security guards are on duty 24 hours a day. Students are expected to conduct themselves according to their parents' instructions in terms of travel. In the event of a security incident, all students are contacted to ensure their safety. We rely on the students to communicate with their parents and to follow their instructions.
Stella K. Abraham Beit Midrash for Women of Yeshiva Har Etzion (Migdal Oz)
Shirley Schuster, Etzion Foundation
111 Galway Place, Suite 203
Teaneck, NJ 07666
Phone: (212) 732-4874
Kibbutz Migdal Oz
Gush Etzion 90915
Phone: (02) 993-4520
Fax: (02) 993-4901