Midreshet Lindenbaum-Lod: Giving Distance Learning a Personal Touch
In 2017, OTS founded Midreshet Lindenbaum’s Lod branch; the first Israeli seminary in central Israel, Lindenbaum-Lod provides students with a year of intensive learning in preparation for IDF or National Service. In addition to its commitment to Torah learning and living, Lindenbaum-Lod is known for its strong emphasis on individualized, personal attention as well as for intensive volunteer work and communal involvement – all of which is geared towards fostering personal growth and a commitment to community.
“I was attracted to Lindenbaum-Lod’s commitment to teaching Torah on a high level in a warm, family-like environment,” says student Ora Stohlman, “and immediately after arriving on campus in late August, we got to know one another and really began to feel like one community.”
However, just two weeks later, the Israeli government instituted the country’s second lockdown, forcing the midrasha to send all 40 students home to continue their studies in Torah, Talmud and Jewish philosophy remotely.
“Since we have returned home, the staff has made such a huge effort to accommodate our needs and personalize the learning experience,” Stohlman continues. “As frustrating as it was to have to come home just as we were beginning our midrasha experience, we still very much feel the special community atmosphere of Lindenbaum-Lod and we are continuing to learn and grow.”
Small Touches; Big Difference
Rabbanit Naama Frenkel, Rosh Beit Midrash of Midreshet Lindenbaum-Lod, explains how she and the staff strive to maintain the personal touch for which the school is known. “Several times over the last few weeks, we sent the students questionnaires to determine how, what and when they want to learn. We’ve adapted the schedule accordingly and also added additional classes in which the students work in small groups based upon topics of interest, which is much more engaging than frontal Zoom lectures,” she says. “In addition, each teacher is regularly in touch with the students to check in and make themselves available to listen and provide support.”
In the week following Simchat Torah, the midrasha focused on the upcoming Torah portion of Bereishit. Students had the opportunity to learn the parsha with different teachers in small online groups – each offering a different perspective – and they also completed different sections of Mishna. But they all came together again on Zoom for a joint celebration of completing their sections, munching on chocolates sent out in advance by the school.
“We want these young women to gain a sense of accomplishment as they learn,” relates Frankel. “We want them to feel that they are mastering material together within a community of peers who are all focused on learning and growing together.”
“Even though we’re at home, it is so apparent to us all how much the staff cares about each of us, and about facilitating the learning in the best possible way,” says Stohlman. “Our teachers are outstanding, just as I had expected, and while we can’t physically be on campus, they are bringing the full experience to us. I’m really happy to be part of the Midreshet Lindenbaum-Lod community.”