Hitchabrut or Connecting - Liberal Houses of Study in Israel as Political and Spiritual Expression

in Israel Studies Review
Author: Adina Newberg
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Over the last fifteen years Israeli culture has witnessed the development of batey midrash (houses of Jewish studies) modeled after traditional batey midrash, but without regard for halakhah and open to men and women alike. They represent an attempt to connect and reconnect to the sources of Jewish learning and strive to reconcile uni- versalistic and pluralistic aspects of Israelis' identity with their Jewish identity that has been dormant since the establishment of the state of Israel. With a reflective and pluralistic educational approach the batey midrash present opportunities for exploration of students' relationship to tradition, to Israel and Zionism, God, their communities, their own spiritual path, and the 'other' in all its representations. As the continu- ing conflict with the Palestinians renders existence in Israel ever more difficult, more existential questions arise, requiring a deepening of the Jewish connection so that the two sides' worlds are in dialogue.