Saturday, June 13, 2015

Rabbanit Shulamit Melamed, Arutz Sheva’s Founder and Director, Visits Orot Israel College

Rabbanit Dr. Nomi Shachor 
Head of the Tanach Department, Orot Israel College, Elkana Campus
Rabbanit Shulamit Melamed, founder and director of the Arutz Sheva news network and wife of Rosh Yeshivat Beit El, Rav Zalman Melamed, delivered a guest lecture at Orot Israel College to mark the conclusion of Orot’s “Jewish Women in the Modern Era” course.
Offered by the history department, the course focused on the various crossroads that the Jewish people in general and Jewish women in particular faced during the modern era. The students examined the personal, ideological, and spiritual questions that concerned women in different settings: the Haskalah in Europe, the assorted waves of Aliyah to Eretz Yisrael, the 1960s and the growth of feminism in the United States, and women’s roles in the State of Israel. Special attention was given to religious women in Israel – both within the feminist movements and within other movements, such as Gush Emunim and the settlement of Yehuda and Shomron.
During her lecture, Rabbanit Melamed discussed the many transformations that religious women have undergone over the past few decades. She spoke about the home where she was raised, her introduction to the yeshiva world, and her decision to marry a yeshiva student connected to Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav – which was considered to be fairly unusual at the time. Being the wife of a full-time yeshiva student, she said, had several implications and impacted the household division of labor. The next significant move in her life – which also was a reflection of changes in the national-religious public – was the decision to establish the community of Beit El B. The Orot students were enthralled by her stories of the community’s early years – including the technical and security problems and the challenges and difficulties of raising a family far from Yerushalayim.
Rabbanit Melamed also spoke about founding Arutz Sheva. She recalled purchasing a ship and broadcasting from sea as well as her initial exposure to the media. The Orot students were particularly interested in hearing about the various financial, technical, and fundamental issues that she faced. Although the network itself and the media in general have since undergone many changes, Rabbanit Melamed continues to serve as Arutz Sheva’s director.
In addition, she examined the status of Jewish women in general and Israeli women in particular. Inter alia, she touched upon feminism, a woman’s role in the family, women’s contributions to Israeli society and family life, and more. The students were encouraged to ask questions, and the lecture sparked an animated discussion about how society’s approach to marriage has changed over the generations.
Orot Israel College thanks Rabbanit Melamed for her intriguing talk, which not only addressed many of the issues our students will face as Jewish, Israeli, and religious women, wives, and mothers but also introduced them to a fascinating woman who continues to shape Israeli society.

Orot Israel College and Torah MiTzion: A Natural Partnership

How many Jews lived in Munich before the Holocaust? How many Jews live there today? How many of them keep (strictly) kosher homes? Before answering these questions, we should explain that these are just some of the issues facing the members of the Munich Torah MiTzion Kollel.
Torah MiTzion is an organization dedicated to disseminating Judaism in the Diaspora: in Munich and Moscow; in Washington, D.C., South Africa, and Australia. Each place according to its specific character and needs, but one thing unites them all: Jewish education. Whether it is classes or study partners, small get-togethers or large events – both educational and “social” – various means are used to achieve the sacred goal.
Several years ago, Torah MiTzion asked Orot Israel College, Israel’s largest and most prestigious religious educational college, to work together on several projects. For example, Orot runs a special training class for Orot students who wish to join – on a short-term basis – one of Torah MiTzion’s kollels around the world.
Recently, Torah MiTzion’s leadership invited Rav Professor Neria Guttel, Orot’s president, on a quick, intensive, and jam-packed visit to the Munich Kollel. Rosh Kollel Rav Eliezer Noy and his wife graciously hosted Rav Guttel during his two-day stay, and the rest of the Kollel’s membership went out of their way to show Rav Guttel around.
Much of the Kollel’s programming is geared for university students. After all, Munich’s Jewish community is largely composed of Jews from the former Soviet Union as well as Israeli “yordim” and young Israelis studying in the local universities. Unfortunately, most of them have little to no connection to Torah and mitzvot, and it is not easy to “get through” to them.
Thus, Rav Guttel attended a “fondue party” that included the culinary treat as well as a game focusing on the laws and customs of Sefirat HaOmer. He also interviewed an engaged couple who credit Torah MiTzion with bringing them closer to Judaism and now hope to make aliyah to Israel, and he met the principal of the Jewish day school (which now goes up to the fourth grade), a Jewish studies teacher in the local high school, the local rabbi’s two deputies, the principals of the Jewish Agency-supported Janusz Korczak Academy, and many others. One of the highlights of Rav Guttel’s visit was his meeting with the president of the Jewish community, who is considered to be one of the most influential women in German politics. Due to her busy schedule, the meeting was almost cancelled, but in the end, it took place and was very cordial.
To get back to our original questions: Approximately 11,000 Jews lived in Munich before the Holocaust, and as a result of the German government’s ongoing efforts “to return the crown to its former glory” (??), some 9,000 Jews currently live in Munich (without getting into the question of “who is a Jew?”). However, there are only a few dozen families who maintain (strictly) kosher homes!
This, then, is the challenge – in a nutshell – facing the Torah MiTzion Kollel: “To bring back the hearts of the sons.” Needless to say, it is not easy, and the work depends on much dedication, faith, and hope.
As always, Orot Israel College is proud to be a part of this wonderful endeavor, and with Hashem’s help, we will accomplish and succeed!

Orot Israel College Students Submit Award-Winning Research Papers

Rav Dr. Moshe Rachimi 
Dean of Students (Elkana Campus) and Head of Orot Israel College’s Graduate School 

During their second year, students at Orot Israel College write research papers on Judaic studies topics. The process begins with learning how to write an academic paper and ends with a proper, high-caliber thesis.
Orot, which places great emphasis on academic excellence (as well as Judaic, educational, and pedagogical excellence), encourages and promotes student research – including for undergraduate students. To this end, every year, the top three papers – as determined by three stages of judging - receive awards for excellence. The results of this process are twofold. First, students are motivated to work even harder, and second, the resulting papers are extremely impressive.
This year, the faculty advisors recommended that twelve different papers be submitted to the judges, who eventually selected the three best theses:
• First place: Oriah (Dahan) Reshef - “Children in Monasteries During the Holocaust” - Rav Ari Shvat, Advisor
• Second place: Atara Shlomovitz – “His Eyes Shed Tears: R’ Elazar ben Hurkanus” – Dr. Uriel Twito, Advisor
• Third place: Mazal (Ingeda) Cohen – “The Laws of Kashrut According To Beita Yisrael In Comparison To the Laws of Kashrut According To the Shulchan Aruch” - Rav Ari Shvat, Advisor
Orot Israel College’s administration and faculty congratulate all the submissions and especially the prize winners. We are thrilled and proud of their achievements and encourage them to continue along the path of academia and research.