Beit Hillel

Beit Hillel is a centrist Orthodox organization promoting an inclusive Judaism that speaks to religious, traditional, and non-observant Jews. Comprised of more than 200 male and female spiritual leaders.

Location: Petah Tikva
Year founded: 2012

Description

Beit Hillel is a centrist Orthodox organization promoting an inclusive Judaism that speaks to religious, traditional, and non-observant Jews. Comprised of more than 200 male and female spiritual leaders, Beit Hillel aspires to guide the Religious Zionist community and Israeli society at large in a moderate, balanced, religiously-tolerant direction, building bridges between the religious and secular.

Our guiding values are adherence to halacha, commitment to democracy, unity among all segments of Israeli society, women’s empowerment, and broad and open-minded education.

Beit Hamidrash of Beit Hillel

About

Beit Hamidrash program of Beit Hillel explores contemporary Halachic and social issues.

Beit Hamidrash involves Halacha experts – men and women, all people that teach and practice halachic ruling every day. It is the only institute doing so in the Orthodox society.

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What is the mission and purpose of this program?

The Beit Midrash for Social and Spiritual Change is the “brains” of Beit Hillel. It is akin to a think tank that conducts research, discusses positions, writes papers, and disseminates the research findings to target audiences. The Beit Midrash is the place where Beit Hillel formulates and develops its halachic rulings and ideological position statements, which are the messages that are then communicated to the wider public through the publication and distribution of quarterly journals, as well as via traditional and social media. The positions of the Beit Midrash reach hundreds of thousands of people. This, in turn, sparks a public discourse, and ultimately instills Beit Hillel’s moderate values among religious and secular Jews – in Israel and abroad.

The Beit Midrash for Social and Spiritual Changes convenes male and female spiritual leaders with broad experience in the realms of Halacha and Hashkafa. It addresses the major issues that have emerged from the social, cultural and technological changes that have taken place in modern times, as well as new issues that have arisen from the creation of a Jewish State after nearly two thousand years of exile. These issues include such topics as the challenges of involvement of women in religious life, the role of democracy from a halachic perspective, finding halachically sound ways to engage Jews from non-Orthodox streams and form bonds of friendship between them and the religious, values of equality and human rights in halacha and more.

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Program Description

The Beit Midrash meets 16 times a year, studies issues in depth, and suggests solutions and guidance that take into account the values, demands and culture of modern society. Following each session, the issues are presented for discussion among all of Beit Hillel’s members on the online forum, and are then written, edited and prepared for publication in Beit Hillel’s quarterly Torani Journal, which is distributed in 60,000 hard copies to synagogues and community centers throughout Israel as well as 20,000 recipients via the internet.

The Beit Midrash has two separate tracks – (1) Hashkafa and (2) Halacha, each comprised of 15-20 participants, and each requiring a different skill set and background of its members.

Project goals

Beit Hillel seeks to create social change and influence the public discourse on Judaism and Halacha, by returning the moderate voice of Judaism to the centrist mainstream. We aim to neutralize religious extremism in Israel by generating a desirable alternative. This is achieved by a combination of formulating a coherent, authentic message and communicating it to the public.

Long-term aims include focusing on the most pressing issues facing society and formulating positions that are at once grounded in Jewish law and thought, as well as meaningful and inspiring to the target populations.

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Demonstrated Need

The Beit Midrash
for Social and Spiritual Change is the “brains” of Beit Hillel. It is akin to a
think tank that conducts research, discusses positions, writes papers, and
disseminates the research findings to target audiences. The Beit Midrash is the
place where Beit Hillel formulates and develops its halachic rulings and
ideological position statements, which are the messages that are then
communicated to the wider public through the publication and distribution of
quarterly journals, as well as via traditional and social media. The positions
of the Beit Midrash reach hundreds of thousands of people. This, in turn,
sparks a public discourse, and ultimately instills Beit Hillel’s moderate
values among religious and secular Jews – in Israel and abroad.

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Program Accomplishments

Well known Psakim regarding:

Women as Poskot Halalcha

IDF Service for religiuos women

Inclusion of LGBT in religious congregation

and more

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How do you measure the success of your program?

The measurement of success is the acceptance of the articles among the public, among rabbis and in the public discussion. We are already tone givers in a variety of modern orthodox halachic issues in Israel and abroad

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Meshivat Nefesh

About

Responsa by Women Torah Scholars

The Meshivat Nefesh project aims to provide women and girls with an attentive female ear and responder to tailor a response to their questions, a response they couldn’t always get in other ways.

For more information on the project, please write us at [email protected].

Support the project:

Running this project requires us to invest many resources in activities like building and maintaining the website and paying the responders and site manager reasonable compensation. All or part of the website can be dedicated to an ilui neshama (for more information, please contact us).

To contribute, please visit this link: https://trum.ly/newdonate.asp?org=6&k=84.

Rabbanit Dr. Tamar Meir, member of Beit Hillel’s management board

Rabbanit Shira Sapir, member of Beit Hillel

The Project Administration

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What is the mission and purpose of this program?

What is the Meshivat Nefesh project?

The Meshivat Nefesh project aims to provide women and girls with an attentive female ear and responder to tailor a response to their questions, a response they couldn’t always get in other ways.

What prompted this idea?

Women and girls of various ages feel the need to take counsel with a Torah-observant person, not only to discuss Halachic issues, but also to voice questions concerning faith, worldview, ways of life, and guidance.

Physical or virtual access to women that can help serve as an attentive ear in the world of Torah scholars. Women and girls need to hear from women, and to be able to discuss anything at all, frankly and openly, with a woman, especially when it comes to personal and intimate matters that are decidedly feminine.

However, these female personalities aren’t always available to women. They aren’t as well-known as their male counterparts, because they don’t have any official role. There are no woman-led communities, and they have less opportunities to make themselves known to the public.

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Program Description

What we need is more extensive and organized response. But how will this happen?

To fulfill this need, we are currently creating the basic infrastructure for our internet site, while bearing in mind the range of needs that the project is meant to address:

A preliminary map of needs and responses:

  • Recruiting and training the responders;
  • Defining an organizational structure that will provide the best response. It will include building an advisory forum where rabbis, rabbaniyot and professionals can provide advice and guidance to responders as they address questions concerning halachah and personal issues that border on halachah and faith. (If a question requires professional attention, the inquirer will be referred to a professional).

Who is our target audience?

Ultimately, we want to reach out to all women. However, in the beginning, in the interest of fostering a developing process, we chose to focus on girls and young women.

Other goals:

Besides responding to inquirers, the project also allows us to empower female personalities within the world of Torah. Through Meshivat Nefesh and its platform, professional female Torah-observant personalities who have accumulated a great deal of experience in education and are spiritual leaders with a profound and extensive worldview will become available to respond to women all over Israel, not just those within the social circles and environments that enable them to become acquainted with these female personalities.

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Demonstrated Need

High-school aged girls are going through the process of formulating their religious identities, a process encompassing everything from respecting parents to issues of modesty, the relationship between the sexes, and the status of women in Judaism.

These young women won’t always manage to have their concerns addressed through the formal education system, and they often feel the need to consult with a Torah-observant woman who is neutral, uninvolved, and non-judgmental. Sometimes, a dialog that allows the young woman to remain anonymous is in order.

Once these young women take leave of their educational frameworks and face “the real world”, a number of challenges await them. These include what women typically face when they do their army service or national volunteer service. They may need to adjust to living with unfamiliar roommates from various religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, to manage their time on their own, or to work under a managing or commanding authority. They will have to cope with the service itself, or the encounters that it entails, and they will encounter challenges in later stages of life and at many other junctures when decisions need to be made. Such challenges are right around the corner for them. They will need to handle complex new relationships, and think about studying, acquiring a profession, starting a family, and marital life. Red lights will go on. They will be bombarded with questions like “what do you want to do next year?”, or “what do you plan to do with the rest of your life?”. Naturally, all of these processes occur while these women are still building their identity and religious Jewish women.

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Program Accomplishments

N/A

the program is developed now

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How do you measure the success of your program?

Number of questions asked and answered

Number of conversations read

familiarity of the project among intended audience

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No grants received yet

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