Midrasha Director Advocates to Give Women a Stronger Voice in Religious Life
Dr. Tova Ganzel
"Our goal is to ensure that every student on campus is given the opportunity to strengthen their Jewish identity. Since its inception, the Midrasha had educated future women leaders who are not only experts in their chosen academic disciplines, but who have also acquired profound Jewish knowledge that will enable them to figure prominently in the public Jewish discourse, both in Israel and worldwide," said Dr. Tova Ganzel, Director of Midrasha at Bar-Ilan University (BIU).
With this goal in mind, Dr. Ganzel has overseen an expansion of programs and outreach initiatives offered by the Misrasha in the Ludwig and Erica Jesselson Institute for Advanced Torah Studies. Under her guidance, 33 Torah experts strive to position women in Jewish leadership roles. They empower students to play an influential role in the evolving Jewish world, as well as the dynamic processes of halakhic interpretation and guidance.
A Multitude of Programs and Outreach Initiatives
Over 750 students participate annually in a variety of Midrasha programs comprising some 80 courses that cater to all levels of Jewish educational background. Offerings range from the more intensive Metivta program, which is designed for guided study of Jewish Law or Talmud in pairs, to the Reshit program, which enables students from secular backgrounds to focus on Jewish identity through familiarity with Jewish texts.
A prestigious Tikvah Fellowship workshop for exceptional students addresses core issues on the Israeli public agenda through the prism of Jewish sources. This workshop helps to build a high-level cadre of Jewish leaders of the future.
Dr. Ganzel at the Helm
One such leader is Dr. Ganzel, a former Tikvah Fellow who completed her PhD in the Bible Department at BIU. She is one of Israel's first trained women's halakhic advisors. Dr. Ganzel has published over 20 articles, book chapters and encyclopedia entries. She is the author of A Visionary's Oracles — From Destruction to Restoration, Studies in the Prophecies of Ezekiel. A highly sought-after lecturer, Dr. Ganzel frequently addresses international scholarly conferences and seminars.
Dr. Ganzel is very excited about a new Midrasha program, Etnahta, which caters to students who have completed their military or national service but are not yet registered at BIU. This program introduces these students to Jewish learning, and helps them decide which framework best suits their desire to continue their Torah studies.
Nurturing Future Leaders at the Midrasha
Her inclusive approach to Torah study is drawing BIU students from all fields. One such student is Hadas Nevenzal, a PhD life sciences candidate who is specializing in nanotechnology. She says, "I believe in the importance of Torah study and its impact on my life…I have always been interested in gemara — which is so central to Jewish thought and life — but I never had an opportunity to engage in intensive study until now."
Hadas reflects the hundreds of students drawn to the nurturing and supportive environment of the Midrasha, whether through special events, the Beit Midrash atmosphere, or the newly established Clubroom.
To learn more about the Midrasha, or to support its initiatives, call Howard Charish at 212-906-3900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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