Learning & Leading for Orthodox Women
The few times I’ve visited Teaneck, New Jersey (usually to dine at a Kosher restaurant since my nearby hometown is devoid of one), the sidewalks have a dizzying glare of bobbing black hats. There are about 15 synagogues within a five-mile radius, each with women’s balconies that I suspect are scant on leg room and a view of the bimah. So, I was pleased to come across an article in the Jewish Standard about a new Teaneck-based Beit Midrash* summer program specifically for women and sponsored by Yeshiva University (YU). This program, the first of its kind that YU has offered, provides women of all ages with the tools to become both Judaic scholars and role models for the Orthodox community. Classes are taught by women of GPATS (the Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies) at YU’s Stern College -- a great way to increase the visibility of Orthodox women in higher education and community leadership positions.
The Dean of YU, Rabbi Kenneth Brander, notes in the article that Teaneck has offered many learning opportunities for Jewish men, but very few for women. Hence, this new program has been met particularly favorably by the Orthodox women’s community.
I was impressed by the women quoted in the article who expressed deep interest in wanting to engage in serious learning after spending years watching men enjoy the privilege of a Beit Midrash in their local synagogues.
It’s high time that women finally have a chance to enjoy this learning too!
*A Beit Midrash literally means "House of Interpretation" or "House of Learning" and is any place of study and/or discussion dedicated most often to the study of Torah and Talmud. In ancient times, the term was used to refer specifically to schools of higher learning.