Participants of the Jewish identity "seminar on wheels" during the latest
Board of Governors Assembly.
February 24, 2010 / 10 Adar 5770
The most recent Board of Governors Assembly offered participants an unusual option: The chance to go behind the scenes and delve deeper into the different components that make up modern Israel. These "seminar on wheels," that took place on February 22, 2010, took participants inside Bedouin and ultra-Orthodox communities, brought them face-to-face with activists bringing Israeli Jews and Arabs together, and introduced them to the individuals making a difference in the Green revolution.
The group that set out for Tel Aviv to probe deeper into Jewish identity in Israel was made up of Board of Governors participants as well as lone soldiers, including those from the Jewish Agency supported Nativ Jewish Zionist Identity program. The group soon found themselves at Alma, a home for Hebrew culture for adults. Established over a decade ago by the educator Ruth Calderon, Alma offers a space for students from all backgrounds to delve into traditional Jewish texts in a welcome and open environment. The beit midrash (house of study) program includes a college fellowship program and seminars (some offered in English), as well as a track for artists and musicians.
"This is a true revival of the traditional beit midrash," said Anat Perry, coordinator for the English programs at Alma. "This is a place where we come to Judaism through cultural sources and text and we do this all with a lot of passion. We invite people in to be included in this experience."
The singer-songwriter Ariel Horowitz, the son of the late Naomi Shemer, dubbed the "first lady of Israeli song," serenaded the group with an intimate performance. Horowitz is one of the high-profile artists who studies at Alma and who claims inspiration from his studies there. "For my mother's generation it was natural to know the Bible by heart, but for my generation we have to make an effort," said Horowitz.