by Serena Schneier
Midreshet Lindenbaum is, in a sense, its own world. Tucked away in the residential suburb of Arnona, our seminary provides enough entertainment and resources to keep us content for days. But within this world are multifarious sub-worlds: Bruria, Amlat, staff-student interactions, chesed opportunities, toranut (aka bonding time with our chef Yirmi), and — perhaps most important of all — the Darkaynu program.
Darkaynu translates to “our path.” As I wait for my first meeting with Zehava, my soon-to-be chevruta, I analyze the possible paths we two could take during this next half-hour. We could learn about this week’s parsha; we could draw pictures together in the Beit Midrash. Whatever we choose, I hope she enjoys it, and leaves with more meaning to her day than she came with.
Zehava, clad in a most-fashionable white jacket and magenta skirt, sits down next to me and cracks a joke (or ten). Instantly, I am excited by our common senses of both humor and style. We make our way to my makom in the Beit Midrash, and discuss the weekly parsha. We draw parallels between Avraham and modern-day heroes, all with the backdrop of discussions about our favorite foods and movies.
Forty-five minutes later, Zehava’s madricha prompts us to say our goodbyes, as Zehava is due for challah-baking. We plan to meet again next week for dinner and learning, and we each resume our separate paths: hers, to the kitchen, and mine, to Night Seder. Though we are returning to our distinct worlds, we have enhanced each other’s days. Tonight, I walked the path that connected me to another world within Lindenbaum, and on it, I found a new friend.
I feel so lucky to attend Midreshet Lindenbaum because it offers opportunities to cross paths from world-to-world on a daily basis. Darkaynu is an extremely special program that focuses not only on each participant’s unique needs and path for success, but also on the facilitation of an exchange of paths. This week, Zehava will join me on my path as I teach her some of what I’ve learned in my classes. We will finish our night on her path — her area of expertise: discussing fashion trends and music. Darkaynu refers to one world, one program within Midreshet Lindenbaum, but it also denotes the shared paths of friendship and study that all students will take together this year.
Being a Madricha
by Amanda Weiner, Madricha
The job of a madricha, or a mad, as the Aussies commonly refer to us, can be succinctly described as being a less adequate version of every other profession. When the power goes out, the madrichot become electricians. If your bathroom is flooding, we’re your neighborhood plumbers. When you want to know the percentage of dust in the air outside — you know where to turn. Although none of us were trained medically, we have rapidly transformed into illness gurus.
But, I highly doubt any of us became madrichot for those reasons. While I can only speak for myself, Dana doesn’t really strike me as the electrician type, and I can’t really picture Naamah as a meteorologist. When I decided to be a madricha, none of those potential problems even crossed my mind. But, what I did think about is how I could build relationships with the students. A year learning in Midrasha has the potential to be challenging, confusing, difficult and stressful to name a few. I thought to myself, if I could just alleviate even one girl’s stress or clarify something for another, I would have succeeded. And it is exactly that that gives me strength to get through my days. I enjoy talking to students and learning with them and from them. Advising in any way that I possibly can gives me a sense of purpose.
So if you are a student reading this — I invite you to view the madrichot as more than someone to turn to when your room lost power or the people who cross your name off a list at 12:30 AM. We are here for you, and hope to provide guidance and love in any way that we can.
And if you know me at all, you know that any conversation we have, any Torah we learn, any trip we take together will not be void of some good ol’ sarcastic humor.
A Tefillah Space
by Jessica Kane
Truthfully, I wouldn’t regard myself as committee person. Still, in light of my recent commitment to Shacharit, when Nomi asks who’s interested in heading an American- Israeli tefillah committee, my hand is in the air before I even consider what this responsibility entails.
“Both programs will be making an effort,” Nomi tells us during announcements, “to turn the Beit Midrash into a tefillah space.”
I briefly wonder what defines a space as one for tefillah.
Monday, we meet for the first time: two teachers, three Israeli students, two other American students and I sit in the office discussing the possibility of a communal Shacharit each morning at 8am.
“With a chazanit?” One of the girls asks.
“But what’s the difference? If we daven every morning to ourselves or we daven out loud together — what’s the halachic difference?”
Chana, Rosh Beit Midrash of the Israeli program, whom I have not met until now, begins speaking so quickly that I regret consenting to the meeting being exclusively in Hebrew. (“I like when we speak Hebrew,” I’d said, “it helps me improve mine.”)
From the few words I manage to catch and the questions I ask later on, I now know that as Chana produces strands of language beyond my comprehension, she is describing the intended function of a Beit Midrash. It is a base of learning and prayer, a place in which one can be entirely immersed in community or isolated in spirituality. The typical Beit Midrash hears a communal Shacharit each morning, then enjoys the disputes and conclusions of chavrutot and chaburot all day. Perhaps, because we do not sing Shacharit, there is something lacking in our beautiful new Beis, the foundation of which is not halachic, but spiritual.
What defines a space as one for tefillah?
I am thinking, once more, about the shuls in Poland, modest buildings made holy not because they were mysteriously designated to be so, but solely because communities once gathered to daven in them. In acknowledging that only tefillah can turn a space into a tefillah space, I recognize the unique spirituality in communal davening, which exists wherever we seek it.