July 22, 2024
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Lamdeinu Women’s Learning Center Opens in Teaneck

Teaneck—Lamdeinu, a new center for adult Jewish learning, will be holding its first classes this summer. Spearheaded by Rachel Friedman—long-time associate dean and chair of tanakh studies at Drisha Institute in Manhattan—the new program will be housed in Teaneck’s Congregation Beth Aaron. Three daytime classes–parashat hashavua and haftarot of the season (each open to the entire community) as well as advanced Talmud (for women only) will be offered. A far broader selection of Judaic studies courses will be available this fall, with programming specifically for women as well as classes opened to all.

Friedman’s goal for the new institution is straightforward, yet ambitious: “We’re establishing a new center for high-level, accessible and inspiring Torah learning on this side of the Hudson,” she said. Echoing her enthusiasm, Rabbi Larry Rothwachs remarked, “We are thrilled to welcome Lamdeinu to Congregation Beth Aaron – it is a wonderful opportunity to further enhance our beit kenesset as a makom torah.”

Friedman is particularly excited about introducing some of the extraordinary scholars she has worked with over the years to the Teaneck community. This summer, Rabbi Hayyim Angel, who teaches Bible at Yeshiva University and is past rabbi at Congregation Shearith Israel of New York and Rabbi David Nachbar, maggid shiur at TABC and at the Stern College for Women master’s program in Biblical and Talmudic interpretation, will be offering courses. Joining Friedman on the faculty and administration in the capacity of assistant dean is Shira Schiowitz—former Tanach chair and director of professional development at Ma’ayanot high school as well as rabbanit of Congregation Shaare Tefillah in Teaneck.

For the fall, Lamdeinu is also hoping to include chessed activities, as well as a physical wellness element for women by interspersing exercise classes in the course offerings. The feasibility of on-site babysitting during the day to enable mothers of young children to attend is also being explored.

If anyone were well positioned to initiate a venture like Lamdeinu, it would certainly be Friedman. Her far-reaching reputation as an innovative Bible scholar, curriculum developer and critical thinker have resulted in an ingathering of students from all walks of Jewish life to participate in her Manhattan classes on a regular basis. More than a few of these avid learners have come back year after year. Friedman, her students often point out, has stood out for them as someone who not only makes the effort to get to know them personally and stays interested in their progress long after they have departed her classroom, she also invests endless time and passion in her lessons. “Rachel Friedman cares deeply about the people she teaches,” noted Rani Lustiger, a former student. “Each and every lesson is meticulously crafted. And not only does she show great respect for her material, she shows great respect for her students by never talking down to them. It was an honor and a privilege to be in her class.”

Shifra Shafier, another former student and a teacher at SAR in Riverdale pointed out that Friedman had much success in her past Teaneck endeavors, so news of the new institution was being met with great enthusiasm. “She’s taught summer programs in Teaneck that many educators attended, so she already has an outstanding reputation here,” said Shafier. “There’s a lot of excitement about what’s coming. Teaneck is ripe for what she has to offer.”

Shoshana Samuels—-a yoetzet halacha for Bergen county and instructor of Talmud and Jewish philosophy at Ma’ayanot—plans on attending the Talmud class this summer. Samuels admitted that she is eagerly anticipating the Lamdeinu experience and offered an unqualified vote of confidence in the program’s success. “I am thrilled that Rachel Friedman is opening a learning program in Teaneck,” said Samuels. “I am confident that under Rachel Friedman and Shira Schiowitz’s leadership, Lamdeinu will meet the needs of learners in Teaneck and beyond, as we engage in the precious mitzvah and true privilege of talmud Torah.”

Summer classes will run from June 30th-July 31st. For more information, class schedules and registration, visit lamdeinu.org.

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