April 10, 2024
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April 10, 2024
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Basya Goldstein Shines at Sha’alvim for Women

Basya Goldstein is learning at Sha’alvim for Women. She is from Teaneck, New Jersey, attended the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey for elementary school and Bruriah for high school.

Her plans for next year? Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women

Why did you choose to learn at Sha’alvim?

I loved the idea of the intense learning, the fantastic teachers and the balanced chavruta time. However, Sha’alvim really stood out to me from the other seminaries because of the exemplary behavior, how everyone treats one another here. The girls are very sweet and respectful. The teachers don’t only teach their subjects, but constantly imbue us with midot and lead by example. Everyone is constantly thinking of others, whether raising money for Neve Tzuf, giving up chairs to guests without hesitation, even making signs when a person is sick to wish them a fast recovery. It is such a warm, welcoming environment that I am proud to be part of.

What kind of goals did you have for your year?

My goals for this year were to grow in my hashkafic and intellectual learning, improve my Hebrew and grow in chavruta learning while making new friends.

What have been some of the biggest highlights of your year so far?

This is a very hard question to answer because, without exaggeration, I really love every moment I get to spend at Sha’alvim. The teachers are so smart, caring and approachable—they themselves are an inspiration. The students who stay in the bet midrash during lunch, dinner or after night seder to get in more learning time are a huge inspiration. The kumzitzes, the breathtaking tiyulim, the shabbatonim, the shana bet—they are an inspiration. Just seeing how everyone interacts with one another and care for each other is amazing. The biggest highlight is every day, because I know I have a full day of fantastic classes and learning with the greatest people in the world, in the greatest city in the world.

What kind of challenges have you faced coming to Israel?

The biggest difficulty of coming here for the year has been being away from home and my family. My brother and sister-in-law had a baby right before I left, my first cousin got married while I was in Israel, and two of my other first cousins are expecting (b’sha’a tova)— all very good things, but not easy to miss out on. It’s hard being away from my parents and siblings, my friends who didn’t come to Israel, and the community that I grew up in. However, it has gotten a lot easier over the course of the year, in part because I am having such a great (and meaningful) experience, and in part because of WhatsApp and Skype.

How has being here been different from your expectations? Did you feel prepared for your experience or did you have culture shock, and how so?

Being here for the year has been pretty much what I had anticipated, besides for two exceptions. For one, I didn’t think I would like chavruta learning, and it has become one of the highlights for me in seminary. I especially enjoy my chavruta in the Malbim’s commentary on Megillat Esther—it is so cool! I also did not expect to like the food at seminary, but it is delicious. I felt prepared for my experiences because Sha’alvim for Women was exactly how it was presented, as a school with a positive, warm environment, academically challenging and spiritually uplifting.

Where is your favorite place to go for weekends/Shabbat so far?

I am very fortunate to have a lot of family in Israel, and so for shabbatot I love going to all of them; my top two, though, are my cousins in Alon Shvut, and my aunt in Talpiot. My cousins in Alon Shvut are very fun, they have a ton of books, great food, great divrei Torah, great conversation, and every Motzei Shabbat they make yummy chocolate chip pancakes. I also love the Alon Shvut area—it is one of my favorite places in Israel. As for my aunt in Talpiot, the food, conversation and company are also great, plus I usually get leftovers, and get to sleep a lot!:)

How was your first Purim in Israel?

For (the first day of) Purim, I went to Beit Shemesh/Ramat Beit Shemesh to visit all of my teachers there, then we heard Megilla and had an awesome chagiga. The next day, after hearing the Megilla again, we had a fun-filled Mexican fiesta-themed seuda, and watched the Purim shpiel and other great skits/videos.

What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?

For the rest of the year I am most looking forward to tomorrow, the next day, the day after that and so on. There is always something to look forward to at Sha’alvim, whether classes, tiyulim, dinner or bet midrash time. I love it and can’t wait for tomorrow!

Have a relative, friend or neighbor learning in Israel this year who’d like to be featured in JLNJ’s Israel Spotlight? Please contact JLNJ’s Israel desk ([email protected]) or your local editor for more information.

By Tzvi Silver/JLNJ Israel


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