Midrashiya Program in Israel Prepares Rabbis’ Wives for Leadership Roles in the Community

Jan 11, 2008 — While their husbands pursue rabbinical studies in the YU RIETS Israel Kollel at the university’s campus in Jerusalem, a group of women now have a learning program of their own that will prepare them for their roles as community leaders. The Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) launched the Midrashiya Program for the wives of rabbinical students this fall in partnership with the RIETS Israel Kollel and the Jewish Agency MASA Israel Program.

The initiative, available to the women at no charge, features formal classroom training, seminars, tiyulim [field trips], and chesed [outreach] opportunities.

“In many ways, this program is long overdue,” said Rabbi Dovid Miller, head of the RIETS Israel Kollel, who spearheaded the program with Rabbi Kenneth Brander, CJF dean, and Karen Bacon PhD, The Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of Stern College for Women.

“The role of the rebbetzin may differ depending on the community, but each rebbetzin is an important leader in that community,” Rabbi Miller said. “This program was created to enhance their professional development as leaders.”

Advanced Torah classes build their knowledge, while intensive workshops and Jewish education and community outreach seminars taught by top Jewish educators provide educational and leadership training. The seminars cover such topics as how to make a difference in the community, innovation in Jewish education, and how husband and wife can be an effective leadership couple.

With registration “way beyond expectation,” said Shuki Taylor, director of Israel operations for the CJF, the 18 full- and part-time women in Midrashiya have responsed positively to the program.

“I appreciate being included in the learning community,” said Miriam Lowy. “I’m also learning a lot of practical, hands-on information about how to start programs in communities, information that will be helpful to me later on.”

Yael Axelrod ’05S concurred: “There are no down sides. The teachers are great; I appreciate the seminars about leadership roles in the community and how to facilitate programs, and I love the learning — the more you know, the better off you’ll be as a rebbetzin.”

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