In an innovative beit midrash where students are immersed in both traditional learning and modern scholarship, Amudim provides the intellectually curious student with the necessary toolbox for lifelong independent Torah study. Amudim’s staff foster honest conversations about essential and existential issues such as the existence of God, free will, the afterlife, the problem of evil and suffering, the composition of Torah texts, and the interaction between Judaism and modern values and ethics. In addition to our first rate on-campus faculty, we have regular classes at the Bible Lands Museum, Israeli colleges, the National Library and in the Old City, and weekly seminars featuring internationally renowned experts in their fields. We live our Torah on our tiyulim, whether it’s by building Talmudic era stoves to cook for our camping shabbaton or meeting with Ka’arites after hiking in the southern desert. Our internship program allows our students to explore fields that may be of interest professionally for them long term (and help boost their CVs) in fields such as medicine, STEM, academia, archaeology, the arts, animal care and more.
Goals of Program
In a world which allows for unprecedented encounters and exchange on a global scale, and recognizing that students today enter a classroom with much broader exposure to information and appetite for knowledge than they did even a decade ago, the program at Amudim aims to:
Attitude Towards Israel and Medinat Yisrael
Amudim maintains a strongly Religious Zionist/Dati Leumi outlook and approach, inspiring students to value the Land of Israel’s spiritual dimensions, the roles it plays in Jewish history and the shaping of Jewish identity, and to truly experience contemporary life in Israel. A special course in Israel studies provides an in-depth understanding of the Zionist narrative and how it conflicts with the Palestinian narrative, and addresses complex issues head on, so that students gain the knowledge to effectively articulate an informed position regarding one of the longest running modern conflicts. In addition, many other shiurim, lectures, tiyulim, hagim, internships and activities at Amudim are designed to provoke thought and discussion regarding the religious significance of the land of Israel, Israeli politics, military service, and Israel advocacy, as well as deepen the physical and spiritual connection to our homeland.
Attitude Towards University Studies
With its highly academic approach and faculty drawn from universities and academic institutions across Israel, the Amudim classroom actually reflects that of the university, harnessing the tools of modern scholarship in the study of Torah. In order to introduce students to university life and ways that Torah study can be incorporated into it, Amudim students spend two days per week learning on university campuses and settings. As a result, it is a natural preliminary step towards attending university. After spending a year studying Torah at an advanced level at Amudim, students are fully expected and encouraged to pursue higher education and careers in other fields. While Amudim’s educational approach prepares students for ideological challenges they may face in a college classroom, special “College Prep” courses at Amudim address more practical and social challenges that may arise.
From its inception, Amudim has been at the forefront of advanced Torah education for women in taking an Amudim’s innovative approach to Talmud Torah which is:
Sample of Classes
Internships and Hitnadvut
With an eye towards developing an association between Torah learning, community and communal responsibility, Amudim features a unique internship/hitnadvut (volunteer) program which requires students to contribute to Israeli society through taking up internships or devote time and energy to the underprivileged or mentally or physically challenged. Pursuing internships just as they would a regular job (with cover letters, sometimes resumes and interviews), students have worked in the following fields, amongst others: Medicine, medical research, archaeology, the arts, animal care, writing, office management, nutrition, engineering, education, start-ups, curatorial/museum work, libraries and more. These internships have been foundational to students’ understanding of self and the roles they can play in the broader Jewish and Israeli community. In addition to individualized internships, Amudim arranges for the student body to engage in hesed activities together (e.g. Tomkhei Shabbat, pantry packing, medical clowning etc) throughout the year, mostly around yom tovim times, and solicits volunteers for regular bikur holim on a weekly basis.
Amudim also assists students looking to participate in competitions or events deemed beneficial to their spiritual or physical development, such as the YU Choir competition and the Jerusalem marathon.
Interaction with Israelis
As part of our commitment to strong textual learning and engagement with the larger Jewish world, Amudim provides students with a range of opportunities geared towards honing and advancing their Hebrew language skills, at both textual and conversational levels, including:
Campus and Housing
Our Beit Midrash, library, classrooms, and eating areas are located on the ground floor of the beautiful Shir Hadash Center, a 300 meter building constructed in 2019, nestled among trees, parks and many local attractions in the Germany Colony/Talbiyeh area. The neighborhood as a whole, and especially Shir Hadash under the leadership of Rabbi Ian Pear, is renowned as a dynamic and vibrant center of Jewish life and learning, and with the Old City about a 20-minute walk, easy access to other locations where Amudim classes are held (including the Bible Lands Museum and Herzog College), internship locations and other hotspots, Amudim students to have the opportunity to be part of life in modern Jerusalem.
The nucleus of Amudim is our Beit Midrash which was constructed over the summer, is located towards the entrance to the building and is glass-enclosed to emphasize the permeability between realms—the world outside can penetrate our learning and our learning can radiate to the world outside. Our sifrei kodesh, as well as tables for permanent mekomot (where students can keep personal sefarim and belongings), white board, and other necessities for learning are contained within this space, which is accessible day and night for individual and havruta learning and Night Seder.
Instead of common dorm life, our students are housed in apartments in the vicinity of the Midrasha, in order to promote our ideal of independent learning and independent living (both, of course, with ample guidance and supervision). Students at Amudim are thus provided a home to live in all year round. With staff on premises, students live in apartments with dining and living rooms, spacious bedrooms, outdoor space and a kitchen, even though 3 meals a day are provided.
Sharing a home and experiences of daily living, students form deep bonds with each other. At the end of a day, students can unwind with a ride on one of our bikes or on the couch with friends, playing games or sharing a cup of tea, or a laugh.
Students feel that they have a home during breaks, at night and on Shabbat. Having a home in Israel rather than a bunk in a dorm gives our students a sense of belonging and security.