Amudim Seminary—S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program

Hashkafa

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.

Attitude Towards Extracurricular Activities

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.


The "Successful" Student

At Amudim, on an intellectual level, we consider it a success when our students learn to think critically about every text (defined broadly) they encounter and come specially to appreciate the profundity, complexity, brilliance and truth of Torah.

In terms of personal growth, the successful student is one who takes on the challenges placed before her, whether it is a difficult hike, all night learning, or performing a difficult hessed, such as bikur holim or nihum aveilim.

The greatest success occurs when students are empowered enough to contribute to the conversation on Jewish texts and ideas, become leaders of Klal Yisrael, and when the attachment to Torah learning leads to a deepened connection with God.

Dress
Halakhic attire must be worn in the Beit Midrash and all shiur rooms. This includes opaque shirts with sleeves to the elbow, skirt to the lower part of the knee and collar covering the greater part of the chest area. While all manner of dress that follow these standards (including sandals, nail polish and any fabric) is permitted in the Beit Midrash, is it fitting to take extra care to respect the Midrasha’s policies and the atmosphere of the beit midrash.

This being said, students take a class at Amudim called “Body, Beauty, Gender and Dress,” which considers the historical, psychological, social, political and halakhic ramifications of beauty and dress. Placing special emphasis on the Jewish context, the discussions in this class cover issues such as shomer negiah, women's leadership roles and kol isha, how they are connected to gender politics and "tzniut." Ultimately, this shiur aspires to facilitate students’ understanding of what the halakha aspires to and encourages them to effectively articulate their own stance on Jewish women’s dress practices and personal approach to dress. 

Guidance Personnel
Spiritual, intellectual and emotional maturity during the year in Israel is nurtured by and often depends upon the establishment of strong personal bonds between students and staff, including teachers, administrators, Ram’im, and madrikhot. While all teachers are available to discuss whatever is on students’ minds and welcome the chance to spend time with students outside of shiurim (including Shabbatot at their homes), several staff members maintain a regular presence on campus and purposefully remain accessible to lend a hand or an ear, and sometimes a shoulder to cry on, and address any and all student needs. Aside from the Rosh HaMidrasha, these include the:

  1. Ramim, who teach designated groups of students during morning sedarim, join students for various activities outside of the classroom setting, and are specially equipped to address religious-spiritual issues.
  2. Mashgiah Ruhani, who guides students in identifying specific areas of learning and navigating the Beit Midrash.
  3. Menahelet, who handles all logistics, helping students to organize, plan and make sound decisions.  
  4. Shoelet u-Meishiva, who maintains a regular presence in the beit midrash and is there to address any religious, personal or existential issue that may arise.
  5. Student Life Coordinator, a woman in her late twenties who oversees the madrikhot and helps students navigate life in Israel and independent living.
  6. Madrikhot, college-age women who serve as mentors, friends and “Big Sisters” to the students. 

In addition, faculty keep in touch with each student’s growth and development through following formalized scheduled events, such as havrutot, vaadim, sihot and “schmoozes.”

Supervision
The shana ba-Aretz at Amudim is a fully immersive experience that includes not only shiurim but also dorm life. The Midrasha uses apartments as dormitories. Students must sleep in their apartment every night when the Midrasha is in session, with the allowance of no more than one night out per week, with the permission of the Student Life Coordinator.

Each apartment is inhabited and supervised by a madrikha/dorm counselor, who operates under the supervision of the Student Life Coordinator, who also lives on campus. Students are required to follow their madrikha's instructions at all times.

Curriculum

Makeup

 

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.

Courses Offered

Amudim aims to offer young women the most complete, rigorous and ultimately meaningful Talmud Torah experience by offering the following traditional and unconventional courses:

Epistemology of Religion: Theories of God

Problems and Methods in Judaic Studies

Jewish Review of Books

Jewish-Christian Polemics

Introduction to the Siddur

Talmud for Thinkers

Masterclass: Jewish Literacy

Practical Jewish Law

College Prep

Laws of Family Purity

Laws of Kashruth

Contemporary Jewish Law

Nahmanidean Exegesis

Body, Beauty, Gender, and Dress

The Book of Exodus

Writings of S.Y. Agnon

The Thought of R. J.B. Soloveitchik

Introduction to the Ba’al Shem Tov

The Teachings and Thought of R. Tzadok of Lublin

The History of Halakha

Advanced Talmud

Texts in Context: Biblical Studies at the Museum

Gender and Halakhah

Jewish-Christian Polemics

Talmud 101

Talmud 102

Israel and the Mid-East Conflict

Introduction to Maimonidean Thought

Physical Fitness

Contemporary Jewish Responsa Literature

Homiletics and Hermeneutics

Build-A-Shiur

Safrut Seminar: The Art of Jewish Calligraphy

Daily Schedule

  • 9:00-10:00 Morning shiur with the Rosh HaMidrasha
  • 10:00 – 1:00 Morning Sedarim in Gemara, Halakhah and Intellectual Jewish History
  • 1:00 – 3:00 Break
  • 3:00-4:15 Afternoon Seder Tanakh
  • 4:15 – 7:00 Specialized classes and haburot
  • 7:00-8:00 Dinner
  • 8:00-10:00 Night Seder/Amudim Seminar

Monday afternoon classes take place at the Bible Lands Museum and National Library of Israel in Jerusalem. Wednesday classes take place at the Midrasha at Bar-Ilan University.

Tuesday afternoons are dedicated to internships/hitnadvut in the fields of medicine, medical research, archaeology, the arts, animal care, writing, office management, nutrition, engineering, education, start-ups, curatorial/museum work, libraries and more.

Language of Instruction
Primarily English but also Hebrew.

Ulpan or Hebrew Class
Hebrew immersion via classes taken at the Midrasha at Bar-Ilan and Amudim offers Ulpan on an as-needed basis.

Assessment and Grading
Amudim students receive grades for three components of the program: Coursework, oral presentation and written research. Amudim classes are predominantly structured as seminars, with a focus on discussion and cooperative learning, rather than as frontal lectures. As such, our classes are graded based upon mandatory attendance and participation, as reported by the instructor of each class. Each student is also required to develop and deliver an oral presentation [haburah] on a topic that she chooses and researches. The habura is graded based upon the extensiveness of its research, organization, clarity and the extent to which it demonstrates familiarity with major questions and approaches related to its subject matter. Similarly, the written paper is an independent research project, written on a topic of the students’ choosing, and meant to stimulate utilization of the vast resources of the National Library in Jerusalem. This too is graded upon research, organization, clarity and the familiarity that it demonstrates of its subject matter.

Shana Bet

Amudim aspires to basic, highly individualized Shana Bet program. The uniqueness of this program at Amudim can provide students who have already spent a year in Israel with the opportunity to build upon the foundation they have received, build skills for lifelong independent Torah study, and think higher and more deeply. Shana Bet students can interact closely with faculty, in special shiurim and private havrutot, as well as the illustrious scholars and artists who lead the weekly Amudim seminars. Shana Bet students can also serve as mentors to first-year students by delivering shiurim and helping them adjust to midrasha life. Throughout their Shana Bet, they can crystallize their own approaches to learning and Jewish life and inspire others with their ideas and passion.

Joint Program
Amudim is keenly attuned to the fact that Yeshiva University is the prime example of the fusion of tradition and modernity that Amudim strives to achieve. Amudim is proudly affiliated with the Joint Israel Program at Yeshiva University/Stern College.

Staff:

Dr. Julie Goldstein, Rosh HaMidrasha/Director

R. Dr. Darrell Ginsberg, Director

R. Jonathan Duker, Mashgiah Ruhani

Ruth Hasin, Menahelet

Channah Lockshin Bob, Ram

Naomi Schrager, Ram

Leah Herzog, Shoelet u-Meishiva

Other faculty members include: R. Dr. Jeffrey Woolf, R. Jeffrey Saks, R. Yoni Rosensweig, R. Jonathan Ziring, Dr. Hannah Hashkes, R. Dr. Eliezer Shore, Shonny Solow, Aviva Sterman, Dr. Jennie Rosenfeld, R. Dr. Martin Lockshin, R. Joshua Yuter.

Extra-Curricular Activities

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.

Special Informal Programs

At Amudim, we provide students with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interface and study with some of the most creative and dynamic thinkers in the incomparable world of Jewish intellectual life in Israel. In an effort to introduce our students to a realm of Jewish scholarship that exists only in Israel (Modern Orthodoxy at its best!), a central feature of our curriculum is The Amudim Seminar, a series of mini-courses in Tanakh, Talmud, Jewish history, Jewish thought and culture, Jewish philosophy, ethics and art, taught by leading scholars and artists. Some of the anticipated seminars for next year will allow students to explore Jewish food culture and the phenomenon of feasting and fasting in Judaism, plunge the depths of Jewish liturgical poetry (piyyut) and music (niggun) and give creative visual expression to the ideas and values acquired during their time in Israel. 

Amudim also holds weekly “week-in-review” sessions, a special hour geared toward reflection upon texts, concepts, arguments, and ideas that students have encountered over the course of their week. This time allows students to consider and articulate which ideas spoke to them, their personal positions on matters, and how the disparate aspects of their learning fit into the larger tapestry of their intellectual and spiritual Jewish identities.

Sports Facilities
Fostering healthy mind, body and spirit, weekly “Hilutz Atzamot” sessions take students out of the Beit Midrash and into the gym offering Boot camps and classes in Zumba, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and other combinations of exercise. In these classes, students are encouraged to actualize their potential in every aspect of the Amudim experience! 

Programming for Shabbat and Yom Tov
At Amudim, many of the hagim— Yom Kippur, Hanukah, Purim, Yom Ha’atzmaut, Yom Yerushalayim, and Shavuot—are celebrated together, allowing students to experience beauty, flavor and intensity of hag in Israel while being joined by Rabbeim and teachers who deliver special shiurim, participate in panel discussions or lead student-centered activities and hagigot throughout the day. Yom Kippur, Purim, and Shavuot are all spent at the home of the Rosh HaMidrasha. Shavuot, specifically, serves as the culmination of months of hard work in our “Build-A-Shiur” workshop, as students themselves deliver shiurim all throughout the night.

Three different types of Shabbat schedules allow students to get the most out of Shabbat in Israel as well:

  1. In Shabbatot: Once every three weeks, the entire midrasha spends Shabbat together in Modi'in. Students are joined by faculty members and their families. This allows for more personal and unique discussions and for students to form close connections with their teachers.
  2. Out-Shabbatot:  Free Shabbatot where students are encouraged to visit friends and relatives or explore new places in Israel for Shabbat and to recharge their batteries. Of course, students always have the option to stay in their apartments. In this case, they are encouraged to join teachers and community members for Shabbat meals and are provided with assistance, if necessary, in making arrangements.
  3. Shabbatonim: A truly unforgettable experience in which the entire midrasha leaves Modi'in to experience Shabbat together in cities throughout Israel.
     Sharing Shabbat with communities around Israel inspires 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.

Field Trips
Tiyulim at Amudim take students across the length and width of Israel and are well-orchestrated so that students get the most fun, excitement, exhilaration and meaning out of every step they take.

From the desert and beaches of Eilat to the lush mountains of the Golan to the subterranean archives at the Hebrew University, our Tiyulim are designed to provoke discussion of:

  • The religious significance of the land of Israel and the physical connection to our homeland.
  • The role of sacrifice in Jewish texts and within our contemporary experience.
  • Nature, beauty, science and religion.
  • How historical conditions impact jewish thought; past and present.
  • Jewish sects and denominations and living in a fractured world.
  • Ancient texts and their transmission through the ages.
  • Politics, military service, and Israel advocacy.

Level of Learning Offered
Intermediate and Advanced

Hebrew Knowledge Required
Intermediate

Religious Observance Required
Commitment to mitzvot.

Population

Type of American Student
Amudim attracts very bright, deep-thinking, highly motivated young women from mainstream Modern Orthodox high schools across the US, as well as from Canada and the UK. Students tend to be halakhically committed but critical thinkers looking to re-examine Torah concepts and texts in a sophisticated and intellectually-honest way. Amudim students have attended SAR, Frisch, Ma’ayanot, Midreshet Shalhevet, YUHSG, SKA, Kushner, Berman, AJA, Ida Crown, YULA, Shalhevet, Kohelet, Beren, Farber Akiba, Seattle, HHNE, CHAT, Hasmonean.

Overall Number of Students
24

Number of 1st Year American Students
24

Other Nationalities
Canada, England: 2.

Number of Students per Class
6-24

Accommodations

Living Quarters
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.  

Availability of Private Kitchen Facilities
Each apartment comes with a fully equipped kitchen, including full size refrigerator, oven (though students are not permitted to use gas stovetops), microwave, toaster oven and hot water urn.

Facility use during Shabbat and Yom Tov

As the students’ home in Israel, apartments are accessible to them 24/7 throughout the year. Though we encourage students to spend their free time exploring the country and visiting their teachers for Shabbat, they are always welcome to sleep in their apartment on out-Shabbatot and vacations. Guests are welcome with certain restrictions.

Curfew

It is essential that each student get a healthy amount of sleep each day in order to have a successful year. Therefore, Amudim maintains a strict curfew, as follows:

Curfew on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and some Saturday nights is 12:30 AM.

Curfew on Thursday and on Saturday nights following an out-Shabbat is 1 AM.

Security Arrangements

With 24-hour city security, Modi'in is considered one of the safest cities in Israel. Students are furnished with either keys or codes in order to unlock apartment doors. They are forbidden from copying keys or distributing codes to non-Amudim students. When it comes to national security issues, Amudim strictly follows the guidelines of local police and homeland security. Tiyulim are coordinated with the moked ha-teva. Parents are urged to share personal guidelines with their daughters and students are required to request special permission from parents to travel to sensitive areas.

History

Amudim was founded in 2017 in response to the new expectations of the 21st century Jewish student and need for intellectual honesty, openness, and sophistication in the seminary world.

Initially housed in a small caravan, Amudim has currently established its beit midrash in Heikhal Nahum, a shul in the Giv’a C area of Modi’in.  

Accrediting Universities

Amudim is a Yeshiva University S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program School.

Tuition

Tuition for the 2019-2020 academic year is $26,500 USD. Amudim offers merit and need-based financial assistance and has never turned a student way due to financial constraints.

Additional Information

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 speaks to modern expectations and sensibilities and ultimately yields significant and sustainable growth in Torah by seamlessly harmonizing traditional Talmud Torah with academic scholarship. Taking into account the complex needs, desires and questions of a robust cadre of young, motivated, bright Jewish women seeking to look beyond the “what” to explore the “whys” and "hows" of Torah, Jewish thought and culture, Amudim stands at the forefront of post High School Torah education with an innovative curriculum and approach to learning that addresses meta and methodological issues, is expansive, evidence-based, and student centered. With a focus on creating independent Torah learners and future leaders who are contributors to the conversation on Jewish texts and ideas, Amudim facilitates close interaction with a groundbreaking panoply of leading scholars and educators, and empowers each student to bring her own voice to Torah learning, identify and hone a derekh ha-limmud, think critically and creatively about the texts she encounters, and share her ideas and interpretations through crafting shiurim and writing. With its breadth of classical and unconventional courses, innovative application of diverse methodologies to the study of Torah, and warm thoughtful environment that inspires steadfast Shmirat ha-Mitzvot and love of Torah and the Jewish people, Amudim provides a modern framework for understanding, appreciating and finding oneself in the world of Judaism today. 

Contact Information

Street Address:

24 Nahal Zohar, Modi’in

Mailing Address in Israel:

39 Nahal Snir, Modi’in, Israel 7170972

Mailing Address in the US:

740 Crestwood Place

West Hempstead, NY 11552

 

Israel: +972.58.631.5217

U.S.: +1.201.218.6386

 

www.amudimisrael.org

info@amudimisrael.org

Facebook.com/AmudimIsrael.org