A midrasha (Hebrew: מדרשה, pl. midrashot/midrashas) is an institute of Torah study for women, usually in Israel, and roughly the equivalent of a yeshiva for men. An alternative term, and translation, is 'seminary' (סמינר).  A midrasha that offers degree studies is sometimes called a machon (מכון, institute).
"Midrasha" refers to Religious Zionist institutions, while "Seminary" is associated with Haredi institutions. The Midrashot were largely established from the late 1970s, parallel to the Hesder yeshivot; the seminaries are modeled on the institution established by Sarah Schenirer in 1923.
The word "midrasha" is based on the term beit midrash, "house of study"; the root דרש means "to seek [knowledge]"  and is then generalized to mean "expound". It is cognate with the Arabic "madrasah," which also refers to a place of learning.
The term Midrasha is sometimes used more widely, referring to pluralistic, as opposed to orthodox, educational institutions. In Israel, it may also refer to field schools that organize seminars and nature field trips.
Structure [ edit ]
Curriculum [ edit ]
Midrashot and seminaries vary in curriculum and hashkafah, or outlook.  All cover Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), Jewish philosophy, Halacha (Jewish law), and Hasidus / Musar (character development); topics in applied Jewish ethics, such as the "laws of speech", are often studied separately. Depending on the institution's stance, the weight and role assigned to Talmud particularly, and in fact to textual-skills generally, will differ re men's yeshivot, and between schools. See Yeshiva #Curriculum for the general content of each topic.
Midrashot [ edit ]
Religious Zionist and Modern Orthodox midrashot include the Religious Kibbutz Movement's Midreshet Ein HaNetziv and Migdal Oz, sister school of Yeshivat Har Etzion; Midreshet Lindenbaum was the first established independent of a teacher's college. The largest Midrasha is at Bar-Ilan University, with 800 students. Women usually attend Midrasha for one year, following or before Sherut Leumi (national service); a second year is sometimes offered.
At Midrashot, treatment of Tanakh and Jewish philosophy - referred to here as Machshavah - will typically be text-focused, built around chavruta-based study as at yeshivot. This entails paired-study where assigned sources are prepared for shiur, a lecture delivered as a discursive-review. At some institutions, Talmud is studied directly, also as at men's yeshivot, if less intensively (see Women in Judaism #Joseph Solovetchik); others treat Talmud somewhat as at seminaries, below. Regardless, Halachah will generally be studied with practice in view: i.e., as opposed to at a men's Yeshiva, where the derivation is from Talmudic sources through codification. At Matan, Nishmat and Lindenbaum the treatment is Talmud-based; see also Drisha Institute.
Seminaries [ edit ]
The Haredi aligned seminaries - for example Beth Jacob Jerusalem, and the Gateshead Jewish Academy for Girls - are modeled on the Bais Yaakov teacher-training seminary established by Sarah Schenirer; see #History there. (Beis Yaakov almost invariably refers to high school, while "Seminary" is used for a post-high school institution.) The programs usually span two years post high-school; see below.
Seminaries are typically more conservative in their approach than Midrashot: selections from the Talmud - usually the non-legalistic aggadah - may be studied, but only in the context of other classes, especially philosophy and Musar. (See Bais Yaakov #Curriculum, Women in Judaism #Yisrael Meir Kagan; the only section of Talmud studied directly is Pirkei Avot, comprising ethical teachings and maxims.) These institutions relatedly assign less weight to textual skills, with content delivered primarily via lecture. Hasidic-aligned institutions, for example Beth Rivkah, are positioned in line with the Seminaries; their curricula differ in that they emphasize the works of their respective Rebbe.
Parallel to their academic content, most Seminaries also focus on the role of women in Torah (several Midrashot similarly) - covering topics such as Tzniut (modesty), Shalom Bayit ("domestic peace") and Chinuch (education of one's children) - preparing students for the role of akeres habayis, or "household mainstay". These classes often emphasize values, as opposed to sources. See Bais Yaakov #Educational approach.
Israel programs [ edit ]
Many diaspora-based girls attend midrasha, or “sem”, in Israel for a year or more following high school; several midrashot and seminaries offer special programs, for example Shana Ba'aretz at Nishmat, or the "Overseas Program" at Midreshet HaRova. Additional to Torah study, these usually include  touring of Israel, Shabbatons in various communities, and often volunteer work in local schools and hospitals, and seminars with journalists and politicians; often a trip to Poland is scheduled to memorealize the Holocaust. Some institutions accommodate the newly observant with similar year-programs, designed to build knowledge and skills; well known are Neve Yerushalayim, Mayanot, and Machon Roni; Machon Chana is US based.
Certifications [ edit ]
In the Religious Zionist community, women often continue their studies at one of the midrasha-affiliated teacher training colleges, which offer an intensive Torah-program in conjunction with the B.Ed. degree; (masters' level) specializations are often offered in Tanakh or Machshavah. The year in Midrasha is sometimes integrated with the college program.  Bar-Ilan University operates a midrasha, and students in all disciplines may then continue Torah study in parallel with their academic studies (with a requirement of at least seven courses in Judaism). Machon Tal,  associated with JCT, the Jerusalem College of Technology, similarly offers degrees in engineering and management.
Most Haredi and Hasidic seminaries likewise offer certificates, and sometimes degrees, in Education. The two year certificates are jointly through the Szold Institute, and are recognized by the Israel Ministry of Education as equivalent to the national matriculation. Chabad's Beth Rivkah offers a B.A. and M.A. jointly with the Shaanan Religious College of Education; "Beth Chanah", its affiliated program in Tzfat and Jerusalem, offers a 2 year certificate. JCT's Lustig Campus in Ramat Gan hosts degree programs for Haredi and Hasidic women; see also The Haredi Campus - The Academic College Ono.
Most Seminaries and midrashot for English-speaking students are accredited by American colleges; see Yeshiva #College credit. Some offer second-year programs with religious-studies classes in the morning and general-studies classes in the afternoons, allowing students to pursue a religious education with a college degree simultaneously. In the US, the Modern Orthodox Stern College for Women combines Torah and University studies, as at Bar-Ilan; the Haredi Lander College for Women similarly.
In recent years some midrashot offer specialized programs in Halakha, comprising Talmud-intensive source study, with certifying examinations on the relevant sections of codified law in the Shulchan Aruch. Nishmat trains women as Yoatzot Halacha, advisors in the laws of Family purity;  Lindenbaum, through a joint program,  prepares women as to'anot, advocates in religious courts for matters relating to divorce. Three programs mirror the Rabbinate’s ordination requirement for men: Ein Hanetziv trains students as "Teachers of Halacha",  Lindenbaum in "Halachik leadership"  and Matan as "Halachik Respondents". 
Other Programs [ edit ]
As above, the term Midrasha is sometimes used for pluralistic, as opposed to orthodox, institutions. These are usually structured around continuing / adult education, and accept both men and women. Examples in Israel are the Ein Prat Midrasha and the Midrasha at the Oranim Academic College; elsewhere, the Melton School's Midrasha in Cape Town.  Oranim, in partnership with the Shalom Hartman Institute, offers a pluralistic ordination to both men and women. 
Within the Orthodox community, continuing-education programs of this type are also offered, for example by Matan  and Emunah;  these are limited to women. Midreshet Afikim is a similar program for high-school students. Many synagogues host a "Community Kollel", which has a corresponding function, and offers adult education to both men and women (usually separately).
Midreshet Ben-Gurion - also known as Midreshet Sde Boker - is an educational center and boarding school in southern Israel. Eshkolot operates "midrashot" aimed at knowledge of the land of Israel. Beit Berl College's school of art is called "HaMidrasha".
References [ edit ]
- Midrashot, science.co.il
- See the corresponding Hebrew article: He: סמינר לבנות
- See the corresponding Hebrew article: He: מדרשה תורני לנשים
- Lev. 10:16
- A Modest Year in Israel: When Young Women go to “Seminary”. Lilith, 2014
- “The Midrasha at Bar-Ilan University”
- drisha.co.il: "ישיבה לנשים המבקשות להעמיק ולגדול בתורה"
- מדרשת-טל, jct.ac.il
- Midrasha, biu.ac.il
- discussion, theyeshivaworld.com
- תוכנית להכשרת יועצות הלכה, nishmat.co.il
- הכשרת טוענות רבניות
- See the Hebrew Wikipedia article he: יד לאישה
- בית-מדרש-למורות-הלכה, midrasha.co.il
- המכון-למנהיגות-הלכתית , lind.org.il
- Hilkhata: a program for the advanced study of Halakha, matan.org.il
- Ein Prat Midrasha, beitprat.org
- Midrasha at Oranim
- Midrasha Adult Education Institute, meltoncapetown.org
- Beit Midrash for Israeli Rabbis, hartman.org.il
- רבנות ישראלית, oranim.ac.il
- Classes, matan.org.il
- בתי-מדרש, emunah.org.il; with international branches, for example emunah.co.za
- Examples: Berkeley-Oakland Midrasha (midrasha.org), Midrasha Hebrew High School; Contra Costa Midrasha
See also [ edit ]
- Beis Yaakov
- Female seminary
- Haredi Judaism #Education
- Hashkafa #Gender roles
- Jewish education #Girls' education
- List of Midrashot & List of yeshivas, midrashas and Hebrew schools in Israel #Midrashas
- Maharat - an Open Orthodox (or "Neo-Conservative") Yeshiva in North America that ordains women
- Orthodox Judaism #Diversity
- Religious Zionism #Educational institutions
- WebYeshiva - advanced course-based Torah study for men and women, including the 3 year "Halacha Mastery Program"
- Women in Judaism and esp. #Views on the education of women