25 women joined our virtual summer Gemara courses.
100 people joined our #1PerekaDay Rambam Campaign launch.
50 women from 4 locations joined Niddah Course.
100 students signed up for our High School Chidon.
50 women at our weekly Sushi and Study program.
4 new courses developed.
30 students signed up for our Fall Semester.
50 people signed up to join our Chai Club!
We developed 2 new courses and launched them in 3 cities around the country.
Our Chidon went national, with students from 10 schools participating.
20 finalists competed in our first High School Chidon.
Over 100 women participated in our Gemara and Chassidus classes.
Sushi and Study exploded to an average of 30 participants every week!
12 students joined our immersive learning retreat in the Catskills.
30 students joined our weekly Gemara and Chassidus classes.
We launched our weekly Chavrusa program, Sushi and Study.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
CHANA SILBERSTEIN, PhD
Chana Silberstein has been the educational director of Chabad of Ithaca for 32 years. She was the dean of curriculum for the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute for 9 years and she was instrumental in opening three schools. Mrs. Silberstein is currently an organizational consultant. Her clients include Merkos Room 302 and Menachem Educational Foundation. Mrs. Silberstein has been an invaluable mentor for the Batsheva Learning Center since its inception, helping us define its vision and pathways of growth.
Batsheva Altein is one of the founding members of Batsheva Learning Center and has been a driving force behind the organization since its inception. Today she is a busy full-time shlucha and mom in London, UK, but she stills finds time for her life passion of empowering women in knowledge of Torah. Batsheva serves on the governing board of Batsheva Learning Center, offering her unique insight built on her years of experience in organizations as diverse as The Jewish Children's Museum, The Algemeiner, Friendship Circle International, and Chabad of Crouch End.
Marisa Lewitan was raised in LA in a traditional Jewish home. She attended UCLA where she became involved with JLIC and Chabad on Campus, and eventually attended Mayanot. Marisa discovered Batsheva Learning Center when our founder, Hadassah Shemtov, moved to LA. She is passionate about giving women access to Jewish learning and is excited about our mission. Marisa also has an extensive background in banking, payroll, benefits, and other financial services.
Rabbi Yaffe is a scholar and lecturer who has led seminars worldwide. He lives in Springfield, MA, serves as rabbi of Congregation Bnai Torah, and serves as the Dean of the Institute of American and Talmudic Law and the director of the Institute for Judaic Knowledge. Rabbi Yaffe is an innovative educator who has been involved in providing high level Torah learning opportunities for women for over 25 years. He has been a dedicated board member and teacher since our first steps as an organization and he is excited about being a part of creating a new generation of empowered female leaders and educators.
Rivky Kaplan is a talented teacher and lecturer from Tzfat, Israel. She has been teaching Torah classes in various seminaries, as well as many adult education classes for the past twenty two years. She is passionate about engaging her students in the text and making Torah concepts personal and relevant. She has supported Batsheva’s mission since its inception and recently got more involved in advising and contributing to our curriculum development. Her experience as an educator and her vast Torah knowledge have been invaluable assets to the organization.
Hadassah Shemtov co-founded Batsheva Learning Center in 2015 and continues to shape the organization’s vision and direct its ongoing activities. She is passionate about education and excited about creating innovative learning opportunities for women. She lives in Los Angeles where she teaches Gemara and Chumash to high school girls.
Director of Marketing
Batya Lieberman joined our team this summer as our new director of marketing. After studying in Israel for the past two years, Batya has developed a deep appreciation for women's Torah learning. With her love of creativity and eye for design, she is excited to work on Batsheva Learning Center's branding and marketing. On the side, Batya is also a talented artist (Check out her incredible work at @batyart) and enjoys expressing herself through nature and art.
Devorah Silberstein is an alumnus of Batsheva's high school Chidon, and is excited to come back this year as a director. She is involved in developing the Chidon curriculum and overseeing the programming.
She also learns at a full-time Torah learning program and writes historical narrative for Hachayol Magazine.
As a young and idealistic high school graduate, I left for Israel to get a taste of real, in-depth Torah learning. It was there that I sat down with a chavursa for the first time, and struggled to crack the code of cryptic Torah sources I had never been exposed to before. It was a life-changing experience and I knew this was what I needed to make Judaism come alive for me. When I finished my second year in Israel, my formal Jewish education was over and the opportunities for serious Torah learning for women in the US were limited. But most importantly, I noticed amongst the women in my community an underlying estrangement from the source of our tradition - the sacred text. For many of my high school students, their unfamiliarity with the evolutionary process of Halacha led them to the conception that modern day Halacha is merely a list of rules a couple of rabbis pulled out of a hat. For many of my friends, the lack of expectation for rigorous scholarship within their Torah learning led them to seek intellectual satisfaction elsewhere. For others I knew, the absence of knowledgeable female educators and leaders to look up to, led them to believe that as Jewish women, they could not have intellectual ambitions when it came to Torah.
One Friday night, after a heated discussion about our frustrations about the way women are situated at the periphery of Torah learning, my friends and I decided that instead of complaining about the problem, we could be a part of the solution. We scheduled our first board meeting and began making phone calls to educators and community leaders to ask for advice and support. Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe was one of the first people I called. During our first conversation, we spoke about the Rebbe’s futuristic vision for women’s Torah learning and how far we are from reaching that goal. We spoke about the many women recorded in Chassidic history who were scholars in Kabbalah, Chassidus, Halacha and Gemara, and the need to bring the centuries-old Chassidic tradition of educating our daughters to the women of our generation. He concluded the conversation with remarking, “Thank you for calling. I am very excited to be part of the last generation of men teaching women.” Those words rang in my ears, filling my heart with idealism and hope, as I imagined the metamorphosis that was possible.
Thus began the thrilling journey of building a community that would empower women to both own their Judaism and gain confidence in their familiarity with the world of Torah learning. As we introduced people to our vision, we aimed to shift a self-perception that has been ingrained in a community for generations. We dreamed that eventually, the sight of a traditional, frum woman learning, discussing and teaching Torah with the same expertise as any female physicists today can within the world of science, would be as typical as the sight of a 10-year-old yeshiva boy reciting a mishnah.
I hope you will join us in changing the landscape of women’s Torah learning.
Founder of Batsheva Learning Center