Home for the Holidays
If you ask a typical Jewish college student what she plans to do over winter break, the answers might range from “going skiing,” to “going to Florida,” or another warm vacation destination. This month, 60 alumnae of Midreshet Lindenbaum’s Maria and Joel Finkle Overseas Program would responded, “Back to the Beit Midrash!”
“We want our students to view Midreshet Lindenbaum as their ‘home away from home’ for as long as they study with us – and for the rest of their lives,” says Rabbanit Sally Mayer, Rosh Beit Midrash of Midreshet Lindenbaum. “Torah learning never ends, and we want them to know that they are always, always welcome back to refill their spiritual batteries.”
Midreshet Lindenbaum created the January “Recharge Weeks” to enable their alumnae to do just that. This year, in the first in-person program since before the pandemic, over 60 alumnae were provided with daily classes designated especially for them on topics ranging from “War Ethics in Tanakh” to “Tainted Donations: Can Dirty Money be Used for Good”? and “Havdallah: Sanctification of the Everyday”. Visiting alumnae enjoyed a special dinner, a trip to Kever Rachel, and a Shabbaton in Efrat with Midreshet Lindenbaum faculty and old friends.
“After being at college, I appreciated having the time to devote to Torah learning even more than before,” said Abby Kogan, who studied in the overseas program last year and is currently a student at Queens College. “It was very special.”
Buria Spraragen, on break from Hunter College, agrees. “It was so meaningful to remember what it’s like to sit in a beit midrash in the place where I was so strongly rooted in Torah, and it was great to have the chance to learn again with other people I’m so connected to.” Spraragen spent two years at Midreshet Lindenbaum and especially enjoyed the chance to see so many familiar faces during the time she was back in Israel.
In addition to giving alumnae the chance to reconnect with one another and devote time to learning Torah, their excitement to return and learn sent important messages to current students about the importance of ongoing learning. During her time in the overseas program, Kogan was a Matmidot Scholar. During Recharge Weeks, she taught a class to current first year students on the topic she researched for her final paper: the Dudaim flowers thought to help with fertility, mentioned in the Torah story of Rachel and Leah.
“I really enjoyed giving the class,” Kogan related, “and I think the fact that I participated in the Matmidot program and was able to teach about what I’d learned showed the students how much they can accomplish.”
Rabbanit Nomi Berman, Rosh Beit Midrash at Midreshet Lindenbaum and coordinator of the program, added, “Having so many alumnae return, learn and even teach classes sends a powerful message about women’s empowerment in the world of Torah.”