Learning Learning

Learning Learning

Ronen Ahituv, Elisabeth Goldwyn, Daniel Marom, Sagit Mor, Yoram Verete, Anat Yisraeli | Editor: Yoram Verete

A joint publication of the Mandel Foundation and HaMidrasha at Oranim

Learning in pluralistic batei midrash, frameworks that have emerged in Israel mainly over the last decades, has become a fairly common phenomenon. What is the nature of this learning, which introduces Hebrew Jewish texts into the lives of contemporary Israelis? What are its goals? How is it created? What is studied? What are its advantages and disadvantages? Does it live up to its lofty aims of engendering spiritual, cultural, and social development among learners? Is its existence in the future dependent on maintaining its unique path, or on changing and adapting to the needs of different audiences?

The beit midrash at HaMidrasha at Oranim was one of the early pioneers of this phenomenon. The facilitators of this beit midrash, in partnership with the Mandel Leadership Institute, spent a year investigating different aspects of beit midrash study and exploring the questions it raises. Learning Learning is one of the products of that year. This book is not a manifesto or “how-to” manual; rather, it provides an introduction and an invitation to a deeper discussion of the issues and questions it presents.

Learning Learning has three sections: The first contains transcripts of a Talmudic study session in which the beit midrash facilitators participated. This is designed to give the reader a taste of the beit midrash learning experience. In the margins of this section, we have added comments from the facilitator of the study session about his own facilitation. At the end of the section, we present part of the reflexive discussion held after the session. The second section of the book is theoretical. It presents the essential elements for the creation and development of beit midrash learning, along with various reflections and suggestions on these elements and on the learning process. The third section presents a selection of texts about learning that were studied during the study sessions on which the volume is based and served as starting points for discussions about the beit midrash pedagogy.

This book is first and foremost for facilitators and teachers of pluralistic batei midrash in Israel, but is also designed for directors and employees of cultural and educational institutions who would like to know more about what beit midrash learning has to offer and how it can contribute to their work. In can also be of value to anyone who is seeking to understand this phenomenon better and thinking about participating in it.