The goal of the Beit Midrash for Judaism and Humanity is to generate discourse and creativity – both philosophical and halakhic – regarding the relationship between the Jewish people and the rest of humanity, while constantly comparing texts and traditions with reality and spiritual and practical issues. The Beit Midrash integrates different fields of knowledge, disciplines, and social spheres, aspiring to impact on many varied arenas.
Within the topic of the relationship between the Jewish nation and the rest of humanity the Beit Midrash deals with the way Judaism perceives the religions of the world; the spiritual and material responsibility of the Jewish people to the nations of the world; the treatment of minorities in the State of Israel; the realization of the prophets’ visions of brotherhood and peace; and other issues.
The Beit Midrash hopes to leverage the world of study to create a language that will provide tools in many spheres of activity. These include drawing up a ‘position paper’ and Torah based outlooks for the political system and for NGOs active in the inter-faith fields. Maintaining many channels is integral to the Beit Midrash’s approach which strives to generate a religious language in the field of Israel and the nations based on an in-depth familiarity with the various components of society.
The deep need for such a Beit Midrash is felt now more than ever due to the unique historic reality we are experiencing. For two thousand years of exile we have lived as a nation trying to survive within a strange and hostile society, often being persecuted. We viewed the nations of the world with reservation and suspicion. Our existence in the State of Israel is a momentous historic privilege, the ‘beginning of salvation’, in which there is Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel. In light of this new reality it is necessary to re-examine our relationship with the nations of the world and change our approach: from a survival mode typical of life in the Diaspora to having a vision – one that includes generating a universal meeting that progresses towards realizing the vision of the prophets.
The time has now come to allocate resources of time and attention to think about the larger questions we face, questions dealing with the relationship between the Torah and the State of Israel and the rest of humanity.
The Beit Midrash is headed by Rabbi Dr. Yakov Nagen who meets weekly with its fellows:
- Mrs. Gita Hazani-Melchior, a strategy consultant for corporations and municipalities in Israel’s Arab sector and the founder and former executive director of Mosaica – The Religious Peace Initiative
- Dr. Assaf Malach, founding director of the Jewish Statesmanship Center in Jerusalem, head of its Ethics and International Relations Program, Director of the Committee for Citizenship Studies in Israel’s Ministry of Education, and a researcher at the Hartman Institute.
- Rabbi Sarel Rosenblatt, Rosh Kollel of Ohr Torah Stone’s Joseph and Gwendolyn Straus Rabbinical Seminary, a Ra’M (senior teacher) at the Robert M. Beren Yeshivat Machanaim, and the rabbi of the Rimon community in the city of Efrat.
The Beit Midrash works in collaboration with the Blickle Institute for Interfaith Dialogue; the Beit Midrash focuses on generating a philosophical infrastructure while the Blickle Institute translates the products into educational initiatives, study programs, encounters, and discourse with leaders from other religions.