Tapestry of Jewish Life: Jerusalem Welcomes New, Niche-Driven Yeshivot

December 11, 2011

Source: eJewish Philanthropy


Abigail Pickus writes in eJewish Philanthropy about three niche-driven yeshivot – a few of many that range from secular to religious and even environmental – that are popping up throughout Jerusalem, creating new opportunities for Jewish learning for young and old adults throughout the city. The Jerusalem Secular Yeshiva, Yeshivat Talpiyot and Threshold whose leaders have trained as Fellows on PresenTense’s Community Entrepreneur Partnership (CEP), aim to change the adult Jewish studies landscape of the Holy City.


The Secular Yeshiva, the Jerusalem branch of the Bina Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture opened in October, welcoming its first 15 students, an equal number of men and women between the ages of 20-25 who are attending the four month program full-time. The students come from around the country – three are from Jerusalem – and live and study in Ein Kerem.


The curriculum is a combination of classes on everything from traditional Jewish to some of the founders of Modern Jewish literature, coupled with day trips around Jerusalem to learn about the city’s Biblical past, archeological roots, arts and culture.


After this year’s pilot program, the Yeshiva’s founders will take a few months to recruit and fundraise for the second year, with the goal of offering two four-month programs each year.


Yeshivat Talpiyot – formed by a group of Jerusalemites who have one foot in the religious world and the other in academia – is a place for Jews to study traditional texts in traditional ways, but in a more modern, pluralistic context.


Yeshivat Talpiyot launched its pilot program from the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies building last September with a month of intensive, all-day learning during Elul. They drew 12 students to the initial course, half men and half women from a variety of religious backgrounds.


They aim to run the Elul program again next year. Now Yeshivat Talpiyot is running an evening program once a week that draws over 30 students and they are planning several special learning weekends. Hebrew is the language of instruction at the Yeshiva.The goal is ultimately to open a full-time yeshiva.


Threshold, a new incubator for Jewish Educational Entrepreneurship for English speakers, is also opening in Jerusalem. Threshhold was founded to help solve a pressing problem, the lack of employment opportunities for Anglo Jewish educators and rabbis.


The new Threshold fellowships aim to create a culture of innovation in the field of education to give rabbis and educators the tools they need to create sustainable, viable projects in Israel so that they can stay here and work in their fields.


The six-month fellowship will launch in January 2012 and has already hand-selected its first 12 Fellows.


The admitted Fellows who will be announced at the end of December represent all streams of Judaism and have either an idea for a specific program or an existing project. In January, they will embark upon an intense course that includes everything from seminars and group sessions to experiential learning, all guided by a community of volunteers, including coaches and mentors.


Read Abigail Pickus' full article at eJewish Philanthropy.

Updated: Dec. 25, 2011