“Select capable men [anshei chayil] from all the people, men who fear God, men of truth who hate dishonest gain” (Exodus 18:21)
Within Israel’s Haredi (ultra-orthodox community, there is currently a growing contingent of young people who are confused about their identity and their affiliation with Haredi society, particularly given their desire to embody: “Beautiful is the study of Torah together with derech eretz [the way of the world, worldly life]”
These are young adults who have served in the IDF and/or studied in academic institutions and have integrated into the workforce. It is a community that is continually increasing in size and requires Torah-oriented leadership that will be in line with its needs. The purpose of the Anshei Chayil, which SAE is planning to establish, is to cultivate such leaders.
The Beit Midrash is intended for Haredi Torah scholars, whose feet are firmly planted in the Beit Midrash, but who are also familiar with the world of action and work and its challenges. Additionally, they are aware of the questions and dilemmas raised by the meeting between these “new Haredim” and Israeli society on issues such as education, employment, attitude towards women, religion versus science, redesigning the Beit Midrash, and adapting Haredi life to the modern era.
The objective of establishing the Beit Midrash is to help bridge between the world of Torah and faith and worldly themes as well as deeds, to create a model of “active ultra-orthodoxy” that believes in cautious integration into Israeli society, and founding the next generation of modern Haredi leadership that will be an address and a voice for this community.
- A first core group of fellows committed to this path and concept was established at the initiative of Rabbi Bezalel Cohen, as part of the Society for Advancement of Education’s work with and for the Haredi community. In their lifestyles, these men embody integration between high-level Torah knowledge and action in the world at large, which expresses itself in participation in the workforce, study at institutes of higher education, and activities for the benefit of the community.
- The fellows will meet throughout the year for a weekly study day, that will include studying and teaching, meeting with guest lecturers, hevruta (traditional learning in pairs), and educational tours, with the purpose of developing Torah-oriented thought that will be written and published, and to work towards advancing educational and social solutions.
- The Beit Midrash will be open to the fellows for individual and group study and work throughout the week, and will comprise a venue for community activity.
- Each fellow will have a personal program, defined according to his fields of interest, his character, and the initiative that he is interested in developing in the community.
The program will be evaluated according to how well it maintains a continuum of Beit Midrash activities, including:
- Fellows’ dedication, partnership, and involvement in Beit Midrash activities
- Each fellow will write and publish three Torah-oriented articles in the course of the year
- Each fellow or small group of fellows will advance a community initiative during the year
- Ongoing virtual activity will take place using a dedicated website and collaboration with other websites.
The Beit Midrash will start in September 2020.