You can’t separate the two ─

Our activism is Jewish and our Judaism is active.

beit binah

Marina Konstantinova, Project Kesher’s Director of Social Action, Beit Binah epitomizes Project Kesher’s educational philosophy:

You can’t separate the two. Our activism is Jewish and our Judaism is active.

 

Project Kesher's signature Jewish education program, Beit Binah has more than 90 ongoing bi-monthly Torah Study groups in communities throughout Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. Project Kesher provides women with training to become Torah study facilitators based on a commitment to move women from text to activism. Groups meet once a month to study text which is followed by a second meeting to plan and implement social activist projects inspired by the reading. This innovative program was independently researched by professors from HUC and found to be an effective method to connect Jewish women in this region to high level Jewish study and engage them in the Jewish value of tikkun olam, the repair of the world.

Project Kesher advances our commitment to pluralism by bringing in teachers from the Progressive (Reform and Reconstructionist), Masorti (Conservative), modern orthodox and orthodox movements. Exposing participants to a spectrum of religious viewpoints and observances is a highly unusual and innovative approach to Jewish study in the region. In addition to offering a very effective and encompassing educational program, Beit Binah helps build bridges across denominations by providing opportunities for different educators to work together.

Graduates of the program not only become strong Torah facilitators, they become leaders in all aspects of Jewish life from community-wide celebrations, including Passover Seders, High Holiday services, etc., to humanitarian activities including caring for the elderly, orphans and poor. Local participants in Torah study represent all branches of Judaism and organizational affiliations and, through Torah study build relationships that are critical to a unified, healthy Jewish community. This is usually the first serious adult Jewish learning experience for Torah study facilitators and the participants in the study groups. Within their communities, the increased level of Jewish study and social activist activity significantly impacts the quality and scope of Jewish life.

This past fiscal year, more than 2,000 women participated in Torah study through this program. The Beit Binah groups conducted more than 340 Jewish communal holiday celebrations and 570 social activist projects. We estimate that the participants reached well in excess of 100,000 people this year through their activism

Beit Binah’s latest curriculum is an innovative women’s health program combining text study with addressing issues of women’s health and safety

Learn More about Beit Binah Women’s Health Initiative >>

Curriculum

The program consists of 132 classroom hours distributed over four intensive seminars. The Bible curriculum encompasses almost half of the time, with a total of 60 hours divided into 32 hours of Torah, 8 hours of Prophets, 6 hours of the Book of Writings (Ruth, Esther, and Kohelet), as well as 14 hours on methods of textual analysis. Additional content areas include 14 hours devoted to Jewish ethics and basics of faith, and another 24 hours on the Jewish calendar and holidays. The remaining 34 hours focus on classroom dynamics, lesson planning, group facilitation skills, and a culminating experience of a “master class” in which students present model lessons and receive constructive feedback from their instructors and peers.

Beit Binah has two study tracks – the Torah study facilitation training which meets four times each year in Moscow for four-day seminars. A second track for program graduates meets for a single four-day seminar and provides continuing education. This ongoing training raises the level and sophistication of Jewish knowledge for our Torah study facilitators and enhances their ability as teachers and mentors. It also engenders ongoing commitment to the project and ensures a high level of participant retention. Small stipends are provided in year one only. After that Torah facilitators work on a strictly volunteer basis and providing continued training and support is key to the success of the program.