MMY's Chain of Educational Tradition


Many MMY talmidot whose passion and committment to Torah learning was sparked during their year in Israel are nervous about whether that passion will carry over into the next stages in their lives.  Of course, one solution to this problem is to attend a Jewish university which provides with Torah classes such as Yeshiva University or Touro.
Tali Kern (MMY 5769) is one such student who studies at Stern. When she saw Rabbi Katz on one of his recent trips to New York, she  shared her excitement about her Judaic studies classes there.  He pointed out that two of her teachers, who have phenomenal repuations in Stern, are actually MMY talmidot themselves.  In fact, he said, both Mrs. Nechama (Friedman) Price and Mrs. Yael (Klein) Leibowitz not only went to MMY, but they were in the same machzor (5758), and were chavrutot for in Mrs. Isaacson's Parshanut class!  At roughly the same time, Anna Bernard (MMY 5770) had a conversation in New York with Rabbi Haber in which she mentioned something she had learned from one of her professors at Touro’s Lander College.  Imagine the scene when Rabbi Haber informed her that Dr. Dana (Wenig) Fishkin is also an MMY talmida, from the very same machzor 5758!   Recognizing the significance of these conversations, we decided to discuss this matter more closely with both "generations" of these women - the teachers and their students - and hear what they had to say about this chain of MMY continuity.
All three of the professors commented on the influence their year of learning in MMY had on their lives and careers.  They agreed that one of the qualities MMY instilled within them was the desire to explore Torah knowledge  and maximize their learning.  Mrs. Leibowitz said, “The experience of learning at MMY had the wonderfully multifaceted effect of educating me so that I felt equipped to handle a sophisticated level of learning, while simultaneously opening up portals to vast storehouses of knowledge, so that I was acutely aware of how little I knew.”  Mrs. Price said she felt encouraged not only to learn more, but to think independently and formulate her own thoughts: “The teachers provided the physical resources for me to prepare my own articles, and the publication of the school journal Kol Mevaseret allowed me to print those very same articles and distribute them to my peers and friends.  Furthermore, and most importantly, members of the faculty would read my articles and have long discussions with me about what I wrote. These conversations became the basis of further exploration and development of ideas.” In this way, MMY served as the springboard for their future careers in women’s higher Torah education.  In fact, Mrs. Price continued, “Many of the

"Many of the foundations of my knowledge and skills that led to teaching my classes were first fostered at MMY...
foundations of my knowledge and skills that led to teaching my classes were first fostered at MMY.  It was there that I had my introduction to learning Gemara with Rabbi Haber, who made the experience fun and exciting.  This, in turn, motivated me to push myself to take Gemara courses in Stern and, subsequently, to learn in the Post College Talmud Program.”  Mrs. Leibowitz echoed, “The variety of teachers and personalities that I was exposed to at MMY enabled me to hone in on those facets of Torah study that appealed to me the most, and laid the groundwork for what I teach today.”
Dr. Fishkin remarked, “MMY imbued me with a deep appreciation for textual analysis. I fondly recall how Rabbi Lerner guided students through the nuanced layers of halacha, beginning Hilchot Shabbat in the Chumash and tracing its development through the responsa of modern rabbinic authorities.  In Shuli Mishkin's Israeli geography class, we placed personal experience – gained by visiting local sites – alongside textual sources about the history and evolution of Jerusalem. The majority of my classes exposed me to various methods of reading and using texts. Whether teaching the history or literature of the Medieval or Renaissance periods, I strive to create dialogues between my students and the pre-modern texts. I encourage students at Lander College for Women to engage with the texts before them, often resulting in very insightful and personal discussions. It is this valuable skill, sparked by my learning at MMY that I aim to instill within every student in my courses.”
When Rabbi Katz told Tali that Mrs. Price and Mrs. Leibowitz both went to MMY, Tali admitted being a bit surprised because their teaching methods are quite different from one another. “I realized that coming from MMY doesn’t automatically give you a certain style of teaching and learning. There really is no ‘typical MMY student’,” Tali reflected. “I feel privileged to be part of this MMY mesorah. My teachers were once students, and
"There really is no ‘typical MMY student’..."
I will also, G-d willing, be a teacher to others in the near future.”

This enthusiasm was shared by her teachers as well. “I get much pleasure being able to teach MMY girls,” said Mrs. Price, “I feel a connection with them, based on our shared background and experiences. It's always nice to keep connected to MMY, to be able to hear about its continued successes and to see some of those successes sitting in front of me in class.”
Reflecting on the same connection, Anna commented, “Dr. Fishkin is really very involved in the well-being of her students.  Her warm attitude definitely makes it easy for students to approach her with questions on the subjects she teaches, and she also assists in general academic counseling. When I discovered that she was an MMY alumna, I was very excited and realized that no matter where I go, even outside of Israel, there are always ways to connect back to MMY!”
It is clear that the enthusiasm for learning that MMY students leave with is palpable. We, the staff and administration at MMY, observe this with pride, and wish all our students and future teachers continued success.

Batya Cohen (MMY 5772) and Orit (Levi) Sinclair (MMY 5764)

This time, our alumnae profile is of two women - Oritt (Levi) Sinclair (MMY 5764)(Left) and Batya Cohen (MMY 5762) (Right) - who have each made Aliya and have built successful lives and careers here in Israel.
Though she grew up in Perth, Australia, Oritt knew she wanted to make Aliya since a family vacation in Israel at age 10. After spending two years learning in seminary, Oritt’s Aliya plans became more concrete. “I was overcome with emotion and knowledge that I needed to be in Israel now because it is my home, the place I am happiest, the place I am meant to be and where Am Yisrael is meant to be,” Oritt shared. After officially making Aliya, Oritt was a madricha in MMY for 2 years and an assistentit for one year. Concurrently, she studied accounting in Machon Tal, a religious women’s college in Yerushalayim. She is now finishing her internship to become a CPA.
Thankfully, the challenges Oritt faced going to college in Hebrew and developing a career in a new country were minimal, and she met them with optimism. “Studying in Hebrew was surprisingly fine, and now, most accounting terms I only know in Hebrew! It took willpower to start my career and life here without having the language and contacts and family, but it is doable- if you will it.” She found her job (where she has been working for a few years now) on an Israeli employment website.
Three years ago, Oritt met and married Yonatan Sinclair, a British-Israeli educator. They live in Katamon, in Yerushalayim, and they are still friends with many of Oritt’s classmates from MMY. In fact, Oritt is part of the new Monday night shiur series at MMY for adult women. Oritt and Yonatan gave birth to their first son, Akiva, in July of this year.
Batya Cohen similarly decided to stay in Israel after her year in MMY (5764). She spent a year doing Sheirut Leumi, figuring that it would be a great way to learn Hebrew, and learn about and contribute to Israeli society. Little did she know how much of an effect it would have on the rest of her life. Her Sheirut ended up being at Laniado Hospital in Netanya, in the delivery room. “I fell in love with the delivery room,” Batya said, “I realized that when I stood there, in a room where a new life was joining the world, I didn’t want to stand anywhere else.” Seeing how much she loved the work during her 8 months of volunteering, Batya decided to pursue midwifery as a career, with the goal of choosing for a career something she feels very passionate about. “I got really excited when I realized my parents named me Batya Chaya, which felt prophetic.”
Batya tackled the bureaucratic system and started nursing school at Hebrew University the next year. “It was a shockingly smooth acceptance,” Batya pointed out, “And I must say, of all the courses I took at Hebrew University, Ulpan was the hardest. For a little while I didn’t speak, then people thought I was French, but by the time the four years were up I was fluent and aside from the periodic faux pas that make Aliya exciting, the language is no longer an issue.”
After becoming a nurse, Batya worked for three years in pediatrics, and then started her studies to be a midwife at Tel Aviv University. By October of 2010 she started working as a midwife in Hadassa Ein Karem. It is a very challenging job, the hours are crazy, the demands are physically, mentally, and spiritually challenging for Batya. But, as she says, “I am so blessed to be doing a job I love and to be an active participant in the daily miracles I see. I always wonder what impact the words I whisper to these new babies has. But I find that I often say, ‘Welcome sweet baby, we were waiting for you.’”
In an uncanny statistical anomaly, Batya has actually been fortunate to deliver the babies of 4 MMY talmidot!  One of those, was her close friend, Oritt.
Oritt and Batya became friends when they were madrichot together at MMY for two years. Since then their friendship has grown, and they have become more like family. Additionally, they have a weekly chavruta, which they started when they were madrichot together, that they still keep up.  Batya accompanied Oritt through her pregnancy from early on, and was thrilled to be invited to her birth. “One of the greatest pleasures, and weighty responsibilities, I have in the delivery room,” continued Batya, “is the opportunity to help a friend through labor. I know it can be very calming for a woman to have a familiar face during this intimidating and uncharted process, so I am thrilled when I can relieve a layer of stress and be a part of the care-taking team for people I know and love.” Oritt fully trusted Batya, and felt lucky to have such a good friend be with her during this time. “On the day I went into labor (5 weeks early), she was calming, caring and professional,” Oritt said, “I could be calm because I trusted completely that her priority was my and Akiva's wellbeing.”
This was truly a unique and special experience for both Batya and Oritt, and we wish both of them and their families Mazal Tov and hatzlacha in continuing to strengthen their roots in Eretz Yisrael!

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