Learning, Teaching, Leading and Now – Writing
Midreshet Lindenbaum has always been a pioneer in the world of women’s seminary studies, both in terms of Torah scholarship and in terms of Torah leadership. With the recent publication of a Torah Journal by the program’s Matmidot Scholars, the school has also included writing in its impressive ability to open the doors of Jewish learning ever wider to women.
“A few years ago, at a sale of books written by Midreshet Lindenbaum faculty, several of our students questioned why most had been written by men,” recalls Rabbanit Sally Mayer, Rosh Midrasha of Midreshet Lindenbaum‘s Maria and Joel Finkle Overseas Program. “We realized that just as we give our students the skills and confidence that they need to learn and teach Torah, it was important to give them the same skills and confidence to do intensive Torah research and writing,” she says.
Thus, when the seminary introduced its prestigious Matmidot Scholars initiative two years ago, it was a given that the honors program – established with the vision of supporting the development of select students as scholars and leaders on their campuses and in their communities – would also include a publication component in which each scholar is mentored by a Midreshet Lindenbaum faculty member as she acquires the tools and abilities necessary to explore and author a high-level Torah-based article.
Capable of Anything
This year’s compilation of over 200 pages has just been released, including investigations of topics ranging from communal sin to views on leadership; and from crime and punishment to the Jewish perspective on Eastern religions.
“I loved being able to use the tools we learned in the midrasha, such as text-based learning and critical thinking, to create our own project and piece of academic work,” notes Rivka Wyner, a graduate of Philadelphia’s Jack M. Barack Hebrew Academy. Wyner explored chapters in Tehillim with references to the Book of Samuel in order to deepen the understanding of both works, with guidance from her faculty mentor, Rabbi Alex Israel.
Fellow Matmidot Scholar Bruria Spraragen, a graduate of Yeshivat Frisch, chose to explore the topic of “Free Will in Judaism” under the mentorship of Matmidot coordinator Rabbanit Dena Rock. In addition to finding satisfaction in the writing element, Spraragen shared how much she enjoyed another unique opportunity offered by the Matmidot Program, “the opportunity to learn with incredible Torah scholars in a small group of committed Torah learners.”
A Rare Opportunity
Indeed, the visits that Matmidot scholars have with a variety of inspirational individuals – such as Rabbi Kenneth Brander, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Rabbanit Michelle Cohen Farber, Rabbi David Stav and Dr. Yael Ziegler – is another unique facet of the program. Because the meetings take place in the speakers’ own homes, they provide an intimate atmosphere which enables the scholars to experience firsthand a glimpse into their various ways of life.
“The Matmidot initiative is a rare opportunity for the students to learn firsthand from well-known Torah personalities while also leaving their own mark on the field of religious publication,” says Rabbanit Rock.
“We want our Matmidot Scholars to view themselves as capable of serious Torah scholarship, just as they are capable of anything else,” adds Rabbanit Mayer. “We are so impressed by the talent and dedication of these incredible young women, and so proud of their tremendous dedication, work and insights.”