Bnot Sinai: The Grassroots Initiative Beit Midrash
When a group of individuals share a common dream and work together to bring their ideals into reality, something beautiful is created. This is what happened with Bnot Sinai, an all-women’s summer beit midrash program in the Five Towns, created by college students and intended for Orthodox women college-aged and above.
I started Bnot Sinai after my second year in Israel because I missed the intensity of full-time beit midrash study. I suspected that I was not alone in this, so I began to gauge interest for Torah-learning opportunities by creating a simple Whatsapp group of like-minded individuals. After only two days of its existence, forty women had joined the chat. Rachel Fried (Stern 2019, GPATS 2021) said: “I was thrilled by the opportunity to learn Torah at a high level in a structured environment with equally passionate peers.“
A short while later, Yavneh and the OU Women’s Initiative got wind of this grassroots initiative and wanted to support it. Two years later, Bnot Sinai has become a home to 15-20 participants at the end of the summer, united by a love of Talmud Torah and the desire to further their religious growth. I plan the program each year with the help of a few particularly passionate participants.
The schedule at Bnot Sinai covers a wide variety of topics such as Talmud, Tanakh, halakha and machshava under the guidance of renowned educators. Through chavruta study, the students learn from each other and engage in the texts before shiur. Rivky Elbgerger (Touro, 2021), one of the participants of the program, said, “The teacher talmida relationship fosters a more interesting conversation in the class, as opposed to a more frontal-oriented shiur”.
The participants from Bnot Sinai come from all walks of life and span a variety of ages. Having a diversity of backgrounds in the room makes for interesting and insightful discussions, a respectful atmosphere and unique bonds. Says Rabbi Dr. Frazer, a Bnot Sinai educator, “I was struck by how diverse the group was - a range of ages, backgrounds and hashkafot - yet it meshed into a cohesive group of friends who bonded over a shared love of Talmud Torah.”
It is inspiring for me to see this program’s success and the support that it has received — whether it be through generous donations, the women who choose to devote the end of their summer to learning Torah, the incredible teachers and staff who put so much of their time and energy into this project, or the various features we have received in publications such as The Jewish Action and The Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36.”. People are inspired by Bnot Sinai’s startup story and want to be involved in furthering the Torah education of women in the Orthodox community.
Editor’s Note: For more information about Bnot Sinai’s newest projects, visit bnotsinai.org or the Bnot Sinai Facebook page.
Photo Caption: The students of Bnot Sinai
Photo Credit: Tamar Beer