Nishmat's Shana Ba'aretz Program—S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program
Shana Ba'Aretz is Nishmat's new pre-college program for students who want to immerse themselves in an environment that cultivates their intellectual growth, spiritual maturity, leadership potential and Hebrew-language skills.
Why spend a year in Israel in an American bubble? At Nishmat, a year in Israel is really a year in Israel. Our Shana Baaretz program is fully integrated with Israelis; In the bet Midrash (classes and chevrutot), in the dorms, and on tiyulim and Shabatot, our Shana Baaretz live and learn with Israeli peers.
Shana Ba'Aretz is Nishmat's new pre-college program for students who want to immerse themselves in an environment that cultivates their intellectual growth, spiritual maturity, leadership potential and Hebrew-language skills. At Nishmat, growth in Avodat Hashem comes from learning Torah, and we provide our students with the skills and experience that will enable them to study with depth, passion and insight for the rest of their lives. We want our students to become leaders in the communities they choose later in life. Love of Torah, the love of Israel and the skill in learning they learn in the Shana Ba'Aretz will give them the resources to contribute to the Jewish people wherever they are.
Attitude towards Israel and Medinat Yisrael
Nishmat is a Torani Tsioni school where Yom Ha'Atzmaut is celebrated by reciting Hallel (with a bracha). Zionism and love of the Jewish people permeate the Nishmat experience. Tanach in hand, Shana Ba'Aretz students explore Israel in-depth, getting to know intimately the land and its people. Students participate in regular Chessed activities that enable them to contribute to building the State of Israel and helping people in need.
Attitude towards University Studies
Virtually all Nishmat students, Israeli and North American, enroll in college or university before or after studying at Israel, a practice encouraged by Nishmat's faculty and student advisors. Nishmat encourages its students to strive to reach their potential in Torah study, yirat Shamayim, and mitzvoth ben adam l'chavero, and to strive for healthy participation in secular education and contemporary society.
Attitude towards Extracurricular Activities
We are prepared to consider special requests from students with special interests: we have had students who also are musicians, athletes, volunteers at MDA, and even a volunteer firefighter. All students participate in Chesed activities, volunteering with various organizations in Jerusalem, tutoring, and assisting needy families.
Preparation for Post Israel
We prepare the students with a series of seminars dealing with life on campus. Those students interested in staying in Israel we help with organizing national service.
The "Successful" Student
A young woman empowered to learn Torah independently, who sees her learning as an integral part of her religious life and who will integrate Torah learning on an on-going basis with her higher academic and professional pursuits. A young woman with the ambition and passion to become a leader, and to make a contribution to the Jewish people. A young woman who always will feel entirely at home in Israel, wherever she chooses to live.
There is no formal dress code, largely because we have never needed one. Students adopt the Israeli "Torani, dati leumi" norms of dress very quickly.
Nishmat faculty and staff meet with students on a regular basis both formally and informally to discuss their progress in the educational program and to encourage their personal and spiritual growth. These encounters take place not only in the school setting, but also in the homes of the teachers, staff, and madrichot on Shabbat, where the atmosphere is more relaxed and informal. Each Shana Ba'Aretz student has a chevruta bogeret with a madricha or older Israeli student once a week. Students have a dinner together once a week with their Eim Bayit (rakezet), once a month with the head of their program to discuss issues that have come up in the midrasha or in the program. The rakezet works exclusively with the Shana Ba'Aretz program and arranges the group's chevra events.
When interviewing and processing applications we look for responsible, independent students who have a sense of responsibility to their learning program and arrive back at the dormitory at reasonable times. Due to the high ratio of staff to students, the madrichot, the director, and the staff are able to keep track of the activities of each student. All alcohol and drugs are strictly forbidden to students under any circumstances.
Our curriculum balances Torah Shebe'al Peh and Tanach.
Talmud, Halacha, Gemara, machshava, mussar, Tanach, courses in Faith and Culture, practical halacha, Rav Kook, Rambam, Women and Halacha, the Kedusha and Spirit of Oral Law, Tefilla, and contemporary halachic issues.
At Nishmat Students begin their day at 8:30 am and end the day at 11pm with the completion of night seder (three times a week). There are breaks for lunch and dinner.
Mornings at Nishmat are devoted to Torah Shebe'al Peh -Talmud and Halacha. Each morning consists of a two hour seder with chevruta, and an hour shiur. We offer different levels of Gemara, for beginners, and advanced students. The hour long "Shiurei boker" before the main seder are devoted to machshava, and bekiut learning. Rabbanit Henkin gives a weekly "sicha" on mussar or current issues that have come up in the bet midrash.
Afternoons are devoted primarily to Tanach with some classes in machshava (philosophy, mussar and Chassidut) as well. Students are able to choose between different options in the afternoon. Most classes consist of seder (2 hours) and shiur.
Students also have courses in Faith and Culture, practical halacha, Rav Kook, Rambam, Women and Halacha, the Kedusha and Spirit of Oral Law, Tefilla, and contemporary halachic issues.
Night seder is devoted to learning either Gemara or Tanakh. We complete a masechet together over the course of the year -this year students chose between tractates Megilla and Brachot.
Language of Instruction
85% of Shana Baaretz classes take place in Hebrew -chevruta and shiur. The other 15%, one a day (usually one hour) is in English and here students have an opportunity to debate, question and discuss their opinions on more contemporary issues -women's issues, modern halachic questions, and questions of faith.
Ulpan or Hebrew Class
Our students tell us that the best ulpan is preparing dinner together with their Israeli dorm mates, going to an Israeli family for Shabbat, and learning in Hebrew all day. No Ulpan necessary -it comes on its own!
Assessment and Grading
One (optional) on the schedule requires tests and a written project. For other classes we provide grades only if students request them for transcripts. Many classes encourage students to give a presentation on a subject related to the subject. Participation is encouraged but not required.
Nishmat's "shiur bet" for our Israeli student is an attractive option for Shana Ba'aretz students who wish to continue learning for a second year.
Shana Ba'aretz is part of Yeshiva University's S. Daniel Abraham Joint Israel Program.
Rabbanit Chana Henkin, Dean
Rabbi Yehuda Henkin, Rabbinic Advisor
Rabbi Joshua Weisberg, Director of the Alisa Flatow Overseas Students Program
Rabbi Mendel Blachman
Rabbi Moshe Ehrenreich
Rabbi Yoseph Elitzur
Rabbi David Sperling
Rabbanit Chana Henkin , Nishmat's founder and dean, is one of today's most acclaimed Jewish educators and a trailblazer in opening the higher reaches of Jewish learning to women. In conferring upon her the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters for her pioneering work on behalf of women's Torah education, Yeshiva University President Dr. Norman Lamm said, "You peered through the glass ceiling and observed the heavens smiling and beckoning above. So, without fanfare, confrontation, or acrimony, you lifted open a window in the ceiling and taught the rest of us that the sky is the limit if your heart is with Heaven." Rabbanit Henkin is a graduate of Yeshiva University's Stern College and Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. Following their aliya in 1972, the Henkins settled for nearly a decade in the development town of Bet Shean, where Rabbanit Henkin worked with disadvantaged youngsters both as an educator and administrator and was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education's Agrest prize for innovative Jewish education. Endowed with an infectious love of Jewish scholarship, Rabbanit Henkin teaches Torah and Tanach at all levels at Nishmat and delivers a sicha shevuit (weekly talk).
Rabbi Joshua Weisberg, director of the Program for Overseas Students at Nishmat, grew up in Kingston Ontario, Canada, and moved to Israel in the late 80's after his studies at Wesleyan University in Middletown CT. He spent the following ten years immersed in intensive Talmud study in Israeli yeshivot, Or Etzion, and Bet Morasha in Jerusalem. Rabbi Weisberg has a Masters degree in Jewish history, and wrote an award-winning thesis on the political thought of the Rosh. In addition to directing Nishmat's Overseas Program and counseling students, Rabbi Weisberg teaches Chumash, Mussar and Chassidut to English speakers and Talmud to Israeli students. In class he makes every effort to teach his students to see the pressing relevance of the texts they are learning. Although his classes share a focus on skills and independence in learning, Rabbi Weisberg teaches his students to ask themselves foremost how what they are learning can change them, and how they are growing in their own spiritual and ethical lives as they learn. Students in Rabbi Weisberg's class learn how to learn, but no less important, how to feel at home discussing and thinking about texts that previously had felt forbidding and intimidating. Rabbi Weisberg and his family live in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlaot, a diverse community of young couples and singles which becomes a second home for many Nishmat students, as they join his family for Shabbat meals and a regular mishmar at his home.
Rabbi Mendel Blachman was born in Hamburg, Germany, and immigrated to Chicago as a child. Following high school, he came to Israel to study in the Hevron Yeshiva, where he studied b'chavruta for twelve years with the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Simcha Zissel Brodie, zt"l. Later, he studied at Kollel Pachad Yitzchak, where he became a close disciple of Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner, zt"l. Rabbi Blachman heads the Overseas Program of Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh, where he has taught since 1979. One of Nishmat's most veteran faculty members, Rabbi Blachman's shiurim are known for delving deeply into Chassidic thought and contemporary issues in emunah (faith). He teaches Chassidut to both Nishmat's English speakers and Israeli students, and spends time weekly counseling students and discussing issues of faith. A caring and devoted teacher, he actively engages his students in discussions on general as well as religious issues.
Rabbi Moshe Ehrenreich, Dean of Kollel Eretz Hemda, has taught the top Gemara shiur at Nishmat for a decade. He studied at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh, where he served as a Rosh Metivta from 1967 to 1986. He has written extensively on topics in Choshen Mishpat and Even HaEzer, and oversees teams of rabbis responding to contemporary halachic questions received from around the world. He also is a member of the Chief Rabbinate's Court for Conversions. Rabbi Ehrenreich's Nishmat students treasure his shiurim, both for their analytical depth and because of Rabbi Ehrenreich's paternal warmth and outstanding character. Rabbi Ehrenreich personally mentors each student's analytical skills.
Our students are part of everyday Israeli life since they are living and learning with their Israeli classmates.
Special Informal programs
For all Jewish Holidays and Israeli celebrations, students receive special shiurim and actively participate in preparing the chagigot at Nishmat.
No information provided
Programming for Shabbat and Yom Tov
Shana Ba'Aretz students spend five Shabbatot a year on campus with the entire school and guest faculty families. Additional Shabbatot are organized and planned together with the students every two or three weeks at sites around the country and at faculty homes.
Students tremendously enjoy spending "free" Shabbatot with their Israeli chevrutot and friends. Shana Ba'Aretz madrichot speak with each student mid-week to make sure she has a place for Shabbat. No one is left behind. Nishmat dormitory-apartments are open throughout the school year, including on Shabbat and Yom Tov. Home hospitality is provided for any student who does not (yet) have friends or family in Israel. Shana Ba'Aretz students have an advantage that their Israeli classmates invite them home on a regular basis. The dormitory staff is available to any student who wishes to stay in the dormitory during the holiday periods and special attention is given to assure that students are with families in the Bayit Vegan neighborhood for holiday meals. Students are also invited to the local synagogues for holiday services
Every month students leave Jerusalem at least once, with hiking boots and a Tanach, and explore the country. We meet with the students at the beginning of the year and again before Chaunnuka to plan the tiyulim together (something we can afford to do with a group of such manageable size). The other monthly tiyul is one in a series of "siyurim" in and around Jerusalem. Students learn about the neighborhoods of Old and New Jerusalem, the history, the synagogues and the personalities that have made Jerusalem what it is.
Advanced – Learning at Nishmat is textual, and involves several hours of chevruta learning on a daily basis.
Hebrew Knowledge Required
Advanced – most shiurim for Shana Ba'Aretz students are in Hebrew. Rabbis/teachers, and most of the other students are Israeli.
Religious Observance Required
Students must be committed to keeping halacha, and to growing religiously and spiritually.
Shana Ba'aretz students were graduates of yeshiva high school programs across North America.
Overall Number of Students (Kollel, Israeli, Foreign)
Foreign Student Percentage
Number of 1st Year American Students
Number of 2nd Year American Students
Nishmat plans to open a Shana Bet next year.
Students from all over the world come to study at Nishmat.
Number of Students per Class
Shana Ba'aretz classes consist of between 10 and 25 students.
NISHMAT students live in dormitory apartments on a closed campus that includes the Bet Midrash and classrooms.
Apartments accommodate 5 students. The typical bedroom is furnished with beds, closet space, chairs and desks for two students. The common area consists of a living area, a kitchen (supplied with stovetop, refrigerator, dairy and parve dishes and utensils), a bathroom. The campus maintains coin operated washing machines and dryers.
Nishmat provides students with a hot lunch each school day and occasional suppers, in connection with special evening programs. Most days, students are responsible for their own breakfast and supper. Meals are provided on Shabbatonim and tiyulim. Students may request roommates and these requests are usually honored. Shana Ba'Aretz students are in a dormitory apartment with their Israeli classmates (a ration of three or four Israelis to one overseas student). Guests can stay for one or two nights by making arrangements with the dormitory staff.
Availability of Private Kitchen Facilities
Each dormitory apartment has a kitchen - supplied with stovetop, refrigerator, dairy and parve dishes and utensils.
Facility use during Shabbat and Yom Tov
Nishmat's dormitory apartments serve as our students' home while they are in Israel. Therefore, the dormitory is never closed to them during their year in our program (Shabbat, Yamim Noraim or Chagim). Under the guidance of our dormitory staff, students are either placed for meals at the homes of families in the neighborhood or conduct meals together in the proper Shabbat and holiday atmosphere with these staff members.
Meals are provided on Shabbatonim and tiyulim.
Nishmat imposes no formal curfew on students.
Supervision, safety, and security are taken very seriously by Nishmat faculty and staff. Nishmat strictly adheres to security regulations mandated by the Ministry of Education and Internal Security Services of the Israeli Government. Nishmat abides by security limits determined by parents for their daughter.
Basic Medical Insurance: $400.00 (for 2012/2013 required by all students)
Key deposit: $50.00 (to be paid by check upon arrival)
Uniquely in Shana Ba'Aretz, you will enjoy your own program as well as be fully integrated with your Israeli counterparts. Students take two-thirds of their classes together with Israeli students, and one third by themselves. Most classes are Ivrit b'Ivrit; you may also choose from a variety of English-language classes in Nishmat's Alisa Flatow Overseas Program.
Growth in Avodat HaShem comes from learning Torah. We want you to have the tools to study on your own your whole life. Shana Ba'Aretz seeks to enable you to pick up a sefer kodesh on any topic, from any historical period, and grapple with it independently or in chavruta.
Such skills take time to develop. At Nishmat, women spend up to 10 hours each day in Torah study, including chavrutot, shiurim, bekiut learning, and night seder. (There is a free evening each week). You will learn Gemara, Tanach, machshava, and halacha, with the option of concentrating on either Tanach or Gemara.
American Friends of Nishmat
271 Madison Avenue, 3rd Floor
New York, N.Y. 10016
Phone: (212) 983-6975
Fax: (212) 983-9454
Rabbanit Chana Henkin / Rav Yehoshua Weisberg
26A Berel Locker Street
Phone: (02) 640-4339
Fax: (02) 640-4353