Am Yisrael Chai – The People of Israel Lives
“I chose to spend this year learning Torah specifically in the city of Lod because here, I can learn Torah in a family-like atmosphere and really be part of what’s happening in Israel – even in times of trouble ,” explained Carmel Levi, 18, a student at OTS’s Midreshet Lindenbaum-Lod seminary. “Despite everything that happened, we won’t give up on Lod.”
Ohr Torah Stone founded Midreshet Lindenbaum-Lod in 2017 with the aim of providing a midrasha in central Israel where young Israeli women could combine intensive Torah learning with community involvement to strengthen the social and religious fabric of this city in the economic periphery of Israel. Students invite community members to join their holiday celebrations, tutor struggling high school students and new immigrants, and visit with local elderly. Alongside the growth they experience in Torah learning and Jewish identity, they develop a strong commitment to the community.
When intense rioting began in Lod amidst the hostilities between Israel and Hamas, Ohr Torah Stone’s first reaction was to keep its students safe. They young women moved to Midreshet Lindenbaum’s flagship branch in Jerusalem until after Shavuot, where they enjoyed several days of prayer, Torah learning and camaraderie.
As the situation in Lod calmed down, students were eager to return “home.” Returning to Lod, students at the midrasha rolled up their sleeves and got to work helping to strengthen the community they have come to love. They sifted through the belongings of families whose apartments had been burned down, packing up all items that could be salvaged. They put together craft packages for children and entertained them so that their parents could go out to work. They prepared meals for families in need, and a carnival so children could leave their tense homes, relax and enjoy. And they staffed the situation-room during the wee hours of the morning to provide a much-needed respite for the weary residents.
Carmel commented on how painful it was to see the damage done in the community and at the same time, how important to her and her peers to return to what has become “their” city. “It was very difficult to go through someone’s belongings in their home that has been destroyed,” she remarked. “And yet, we are glad to be able to do whatever we can to help, to be part of the community and part of Am Yisrael.”
Midreshet Lindenbaum-Lod Director Rabbi Udi Abramowitz noted, “We founded the midrasha here to provide an opportunity for advanced Torah learning in this part of the country, where young women can also contribute to the local community. We will continue to live here, and to advance our dual mission of Torah learning and strengthening the fabric of Lod.”