May 25, 2024
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Bnot Sinai: Bringing Women’s Torah Learning to the Five Towns

On August 8, founder Tamar Beer and program coordinator Rivky (Terebelo) Rosenfeld are preparing to present the fifth year of the summer program Bnot Sinai in the Beth Sholom congregation in the Five Towns, open to women of all ages who are passionate and dedicated to Torah learning.

Beer decided to start Bnot Sinai just as she returned from her second year in Israel. “I enjoyed listening to shiurim and taking classes, but I missed the hubbub of the beit midrash, the interaction, the arguments, the helping each other grow stronger each day,” she explained. This is why she was determined to found and facilitate a comprehensive and intensive learning program for Jewish women.

Now, as a master’s student at Azrieli Graduate School and Yeshiva University’s Graduate Program for Advanced Talmudic Studies, she said she has the opportunity to study Torah full time, as well as study effective methods of Jewish education.

Bnot Sinai prides itself on being “the first women’s Beit Midrash program in the Five Towns.” Aside from offering a stellar summer education, Bnot Sinai provides its students with a wide range of topics to choose from, including Gemara seders, Tanach seders, guest shiurim, weekly Parsha classes and philosophy classes. Students can also select the class setting they are most comfortable with, either b’chavruta or in a shiur-based class; there is something for everyone.

Beer shared that she wants “all women to feel connected to Judaism,” and finds that one of the best ways to do so is by learning and reflecting on the actions we take on to most meaningfully practice halacha. “Learning Torah in a serious manner,” she said, “whether it’s Gemara, Halacha, Tanach, or Machshava. [It] can serve to elevate the day-to-day life and halachic practices of Judaism.” She understands how difficult it is for women to find learning opportunities in adulthood but she seeks to “enrich the religious [lives] of Orthodox women” by giving them the chance to engage in a rigorous Torah study environment.

With the help of Degel HaTorah, a non-profit organization committed to preserving Jewish learning, Bnot Sinai receives fiscal scholarships and was born and established in the Five Towns. However, Beer illuminated that most of the program’s funding comes from community donations and tuition. “Every donation counts,” she said, “and helps make Bnot Sinai happen. As a small organization, I really remember and appreciate each donor, as the program could not continue to exist without their generosity.”

Beer told The Jewish Link that “there are so many different types of support that others have offered me, and this support is what enables [Bnot Sinai] to grow and thrive.” Regarding Bnot Sinai’s teachers, she added that they “are not just passionate about the subjects they teach, but about Bnot Sinai’s mission and for bringing high-level Torah learning to this audience.” The nonprofit’s teachers are highly dedicated to the pursuit of Jewish knowledge and to impart the torch of wisdom to their students, even going “above and beyond in their teaching to stay in touch with [their] talmidot (students).”

Beer is excited to share some of the courses Bnot Sinai will offer this summer. Rabbi Ezra Frazer’s Tanach class, The Biblical Legacy of Beit David: Prophecy and Poetry, explores how King David and his dynasty are portrayed in psalms by examining the different angles of David and Shlomo, “ the institution of monarchy and our longing for a future Moshiach.” Rabbi Frazer teaches Tanach at Heschel High School and is very excited to introduce his course this summer.

Similarly, Bracha Rutner’s Life Lessons From the Stories of Chazal grapples with understanding the purpose of aggadatah (Talmudic stories) and their impact on Jewish law. Her course will also examine the lessons one can derive from the stories of the sages. Rutner serves as Central’s head of school and works as a yoetzet halacha in Maryland’s Silver Spring community.

Regarding Bnot Sinai’s future, Beer said she hopes to build on the range of students who participate in the program. “Part of my goal is that all learners can be a part of the same environment and learn from each other.” A way she hopes to accomplish this is by expanding Bnot Sinai’s programming to reach “communities across the tri-state area” and expose those who have busy lives to a feasible Torah-learning experience that caters to their schedules.

Stay tuned for more information regarding Bnot Sinai’s application process for this coming summer. Visit www.bnotsinai.org  for more information.


Rina Shamilov is an intern for The Jewish Link and a Brooklyn native. She is a rising junior studying English Literature at Stern College for Women.

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