FAQ

Feel free to contact us for further questions: zoe@bina.org.il.

What is BINA?

BINA is an Israeli non-profit organization, which was founded in 1996 following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. BINA is committed to promoting Jewish learning and social action from a pluralistic perspective. In Hebrew, the word “Bina” means understanding, insight and wisdom. The acronym BINA stands for the Hebrew phrase “Home for the Creation of a Nation’s Soul”, coined by Israel’s national poet, H.N. Bialik.

BINA is a vibrant center for Jewish learning and social action. We operate a variety of programs for children and adults in schools and neighborhood centers in Tel Aviv-Jaffa and throughout Israel. As one of our flagship programs, BINA hosts a network of Secular Yeshivot in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beer Sheva. For more information about BINA click here!

What is the Beit-Midrash TLV?

Beit Midrash TLV is a 4-month intensive pluralistic Jewish learning program in Tel Aviv for English-speaking young adults from around the world. This is the only full-time program for Torah learning in English in Tel Aviv!

At Beit Midrash TLV, you will study with BINA’s highly-regarded teaching staff, focusing on subjects such as Torah, Gemara, Jewish philosophy, contemporary Jewish culture and more. You will learn in an egalitarian, pluralistic and non-coercive environment. The program will present an option for those seeking intensive Jewish study in a non-halakhic environment.

What are the Program Goals?

During the program, you will learn for approximately 20 hours per week over the course of 4 days (Sunday-Wednesday). In addition, you will volunteer for a half-day per week in local organizations in South Tel Aviv. You will also have time during the schedule for studying in a local Ulpan (Hebrew language courses). 

In addition, for those who have strong Hebrew skills, you will have the option to enroll in an additional 1.5 days per week Jewish learning in Hebrew as part of BINA’s “Aviv” program– Jewish learning for Israeli young adults– on Thursdays and Fridays.  Occasional group Shabbatot and holiday celebrations will promote group bonding and offer you the opportunity to lead and organize content. Tuesday nights include optional programming of participating in “A Little Bit of Torah,” BINA’s open beit midrash in English for the local Tel Aviv community.

  •  The program will create cohorts of talmidei hachamim, inspired to learn and teach in the spirit of Jewish pluralism, with a base of knowledge that will enable them to act as leaders and resources for their home communities following the program.
  • Participants will gain an in-depth familiarity with the expanded Jewish canon, a bookshelf which includes traditional Jewish texts alongside contemporary literature, culture and philosophy.
  • The program will contribute to Tel Aviv’s standing as a center of a vibrant, modern and progressive Jewish culture
  • Participants will take part in meaningful social action in the community surrounding the Beit Midrash, as an expression of the ideals explored in the study program. Study and action will be mutually reinforcing elements for participants both during the program, and after they return to their home communities.

Those who cannot commit to the full course-load will have the option to register for individual courses. Contact us for more information.

What is secular Jewish learning?

“Secular” learning at BINA is Jewish study that reflects the culture of Israeli Jewish secularism (chiloniut). In Israel, the chiloni community is deeply identified with Jewish culture—language, holidays, literature, art, music and more. Even though most chilonim in Israel do not rigorously keep many traditional Jewish customs, they feel a strong connection to, and ownership of, the richness of Jewish culture.

Although our approach in learning is inspired by Israeli secular Judaism, our Beit Midrash is pluralistic. We welcome learners of all backgrounds, and enjoy the diversity of opinions that congregate in our learning space. All perspectives are welcome, so long as they are tolerant of other perspectives.

By secular, we mean an approach, not a description of belief. The approach of secular text study learns these Jewish texts not with a feeling of commanded-ness, obligation or normativity. The lessons of these texts are still refracted through years of traditional interpretation, and we participate in the continuation of this interpretive process for our own secular lives. Secular Jewish text study engages with these texts with an interest in how they speak to the evolution of Jewish life, as well as with the aim to maintain these texts’ relevance to today’s Jewish communities.

Why should text-study be a component of secular Jewish life?

Through BINA’s network of Secular Yeshivas (in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beer Sheva), we demonstrate the understanding that Torah learning is key to cultivating a deep and personal Jewish identity, no matter how one expresses that Jewish identity in practice. The Secular Yeshiva offers you the opportunity to use Jewish text study as a meaningful tool to connect with and learn from your cultural heritage. Through this process, you will gain greater familiarity with the Jewish bookshelf, the Jewish calendar and Jewish language. In becoming better informed and more fluent in these texts, you will learn to think Jewishly and express yourself Jewishly, in forms that feel simultaneously deeply connected to tradition and deeply personal.

Furthermore, BINA sees its secular yeshivot as a fundamental component for the strengthening of Jewish pluralism. The establishment of these learning communities demonstrates BINA’s commitment to expanding opportunities for Jewish learning for Jews of all backgrounds. We believe that it is important for Jews of all affiliations to develop a familiarity with Jewish text, in order to not only allow equal access to Jewish wisdom, but also in order for Jews of all identities to participate in the creation of new Jewish ideas.

At BINA, we believe that Torah learning should lead to action. Whether or not you choose to lead a traditional Jewish lifestyle, we do seek inspiration from the ethical traditions found in the Jewish bookshelf. During the program, we incorporate volunteering into the learning schedule as a way of demonstrating the “Jewish practice” that can be conveyed through acts of social justice.

What courses are available? Who will my teachers be?

We are offering all new courses for Elul and for Fall 2017.
For a list of courses, and the enrollment link, please click here. 
For detailed course descriptions, schedule, and teacher bios, please contact Zoe Jick — zoe@bina.org.il

What other additional opportunities are available?

Apart from the regular courses, Beit Midrash TLV includes two additional components in its weekly schedule. The first is our volunteering programming, which will offer the opportunity to be involved with local South Tel Aviv organizations involved in social justice work. This volunteering will take place one half-day a week, along with an hour/week of time dedicated to processing this experience as a group.

The second additional component of the week is Hebrew language study. For students who are still beginning their study of modern Hebrew, we have left time open throughout the week (two afternoons + all Thursday) to enroll in local ulpan programs.

For students who are already fluent in Hebrew, we are excited to announce the opportunity for immersive learning with Israeli BINA students. The Aviv Program is a Jewish learning program for secular Israeli young adults which meets on Thursdays and Friday mornings at BINA in Tel Aviv. Our beit midrash students who are able to learn in Hebrew will have the opportunity to take classes with the Aviv students. This will allow our students to build a network of Israeli peers while also deepening their understanding ofIsraeli chiloniut and strengthening their Hebrew skills.

Why volunteer?

BINA aims to live out the Mishnaic saying “gadol talmud she’hatalmud mevi lidei maase” – great is study when study leads to action. We firmly believe in the importance of both Jewish learning and meaningful social action, and we see the integration of study and action as central to our mission. Our study compels us to act and brings us to act in more effective ways, especially in our local community. And, subsequently, our social activism enriches and shapes our study and expression of Jewish culture, which must remain relevant to the challenges and conditions of our ever-changing world. In our Jewish learning we emphasize sources that explore and debate issues of social justice.

What kind of volunteering can I do?

BINA works together with local leaders and grassroots organizations to forward the goal of empowering and seeking holistic, sustainable solutions to local need. Social action is therefore an essential component of all our educational programs. Each participant in Beit Midrash TLV will work together with BINA’s social action coordinators to find a meaningful social action placement where they will work (on a volunteer basis) for several hours each week. Placements can include work in local schools or NGOs in the fields of: education, at-risk youth, elderly, anti-poverty, food security, environment, coexistence, health, LGBTQ, women, disability/difference, migration and refugees, and others. Our coordinators will provide ongoing supervision and support throughout this process. We see social action as an integral part of our curriculum and educational program, offering participants the opportunity not only to “give” but also to learn and grow.

For more information, please contact Elliot Glassenberg at elliot@bina.org.il

Ok, so how do I apply?

It’s easy! You can apply here.