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From Be‘eri To Hevruta

From Be‘eri To Hevruta-Going In The Right Direction

The Hevruta gap-year program , a collaboration of the Shalom Hartman Institute and Hebrew College, is the first fully integrated gap-year program for North American and Israeli student leaders from a diverse range of Jewish backgrounds and perspectives. Twenty North American and twenty Israeli high school graduates are chosen to participate in the program each year. Encouraged by their teachers, local informal educators, and their own interest in Jewish-Israeli identity, many of the Israeli applicants were students in the 125 Israeli high schools that are involved in the Be’eri program .

In the recent screening process for the 2015-2016 school year, directors of the Hevruta program found that the strongest Israeli candidates in terms of Jewish-Israeli identity education and familiarity with Jewish great books were graduates of Be’eri schools. This is an indicator attesting strongly to the program’s success in influencing secular Israeli youth to embrace their Jewish-Israeli identity.

Rabbi Leon Morris , Shalom Hartman Institute of North America Vice President for Programs in Israel and Co-director of the Hevruta Gap-Year program, says "Some of our best students of classic Jewish texts came to us from Be’eri schools. The Jewish character of our pre-army / gap-year program is influenced in no small degree by the sense of ownership of Jewish life and tradition that Be’eri instilled in these students during their high school years."

Another significant factor indicating the success of the Be’eri program is that Be’eri graduates are choosing to participate in programs such as Hevruta after high school to continue growing and learning about their Jewish-identity and heritage.

Adi Farkash a Be’eri graduate articulates this perfectly: "I graduated from the Be’eri program in Haifa. My studies in the program led me directly to the Hevruta pre-army program at the Hartman Institute. Up until high school, I believed that Judaism was comprised of events that happened to our people thousands of years ago which did not seem relevant to me. At the beginning of tenth grade, the Be’eri program had an enormous influence on me. Suddenly, I realized that this group of Jews, who I felt were related to me coincidentally, had so much to offer me personally and to the development of the modern Jewish nation. I went through the very enlightening process of discovering that Jewish sources contribute to many aspects of the political spectrum, that there is considerable room and respect for different opinions, and that the pondering of the rabbis throughout the ages relate not only to Orthodox Jews, but to everyone who has lived long enough to understand the complexity of life. Three years after I set out on this amazing journey, I discovered that I had the opportunity to continue it. I didn’t doubt for a moment that Hartman was the next stop on my journey towards Jewish tradition."

The intersection of these two programs has become so significant that starting this year, a scholarship will be awarded to an outstanding Be’eri graduate interested in participating in the Hevruta pre-military program, in need of financial assistance. The Feld-Fisher Scholarship for Be’eri School Alumni was created in recognition of outgoing Be’eri Steering Committee Chairperson Mr. Alan Feld.

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