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Bat-Sheva (Lerner) Maslow MD, MMY 5760

I have always been very ambitious and never liked to shy away from a challenge. When it came time to select a seminary for my shana b’aretz, I knew that I wanted to go somewhere with a genuine Beit Medrash atmosphere, classes that would help me achieve a higher level of Talmud Torah, and truly immersive experience in Eretz Yisrael.  MMY met all those criteria and more. My year in Israel (1999-2000) far exceeded my expectations.  It not only laid the foundation for a lifetime of Torahlearning, the friends I made that year continue to be some of my closest friends to this day.

After MMY, I got a BA in History from Barnard College. During college I maintained chavrutot with several of my MMY classmates on campus and at Stern College. While in college I met my husband (a Mevaseret alum, whose sister coincidentally was my MMY madricha!) and we got married the year I graduated.  I always knew that I wanted to go into medicine and after college I went to Albert Einstein College of Medicine (again with several of my MMY classmates!).  My oldest daughters, Aderet and Tehila, were born while I was in my final year of medical school. After graduating, we moved to Bala Cynwyd, PA so I could complete a residency in OB/GYN at the University of Pennsylvania.  It was there that I reconnected with my MMY chavruta, Atara (Sendor) Eis, who had recently completed the Yoetzet Halacha program. Atara and I collaborated on several local projects related to womens’ health and halacha but we both had broader aspirations for how we could apply our unique relationship to the Jewish community at large. After residency, we moved to West Hartford, CT so I could do a Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Fellowship at the University of Connecticut.

After fellowship, we moved back to New York, now with four daughters (Yakira, was born in Pennsylvania during residency, and Orlee was born in Connecticut during fellowship). Recently, I began practicing at Extend Fertility, the country’s first premier medical practice exclusively for women proactively choosing to freeze their eggs. One of our core missions at Extend Fertility is to increase awareness about the basic biology of fertility, and its limitations as women get older. I love that my job allows me to marry my medical skills and my passion for education. I have the privilege of helping women understand their fertility and giving them the tools to make informed decisions about their reproductive futures.

Shortly after returning to New York, Atara recruited me to join the staff at Nishmat’s North American Yoatzot Halacha Fellowship Program. As the Medical Curriculum Director, I developed a new medical curriculum for the fellowship program and I teacher the fellows once a month. I love interacting with so many brilliant women who embody Torah scholarship (many of whom, again, are MMY alumnae!) and being able to engage my students to think about the application of Halachic principles to real life scenarios. I also lecture and write about the intersection of modern reproductive medicine and the development of Halacha. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with several organizations supporting women in the Jewish community and the honor of serving as an advisor to poskim on questions of hilchot nidda.

It has been a long road since my days in MMY.  There were times that were very challenging. My husband (and kids) have been extraordinarily supportive but we certainly made many sacrifices along the way. Hopefully, the synthesis of professional and religious life will be worth all the hard work. For now, I am incredibly grateful to have a way to blend my passions for Torah scholarship, teaching, and reproductive medicine in my daily life.  

Saperstein

Learn, Think, Grow, Connect.

The goal of an MMY experience is that the Torah learning in the Beit Medrash inspire, a holistically, Mitzvah-filled life. Learning leads to a spiritual relationship with Hashem, those close to us, and the world around us.

That principle sometimes takes us outside the Beit Medrash to take action, to climb mountains in Eretz Yisrael, to see historical sites and to interact with others.

Every Wednesday afternoon the students leave the building to make a real impact on the lives of others, and in turn benefit from the exposure to other cultures and realities. We call this our “chesed program”.

This year some of our talmidot spend this time weekly at the Sanhedria Children’s Home.

The Sanhedria Children’s Home was established in 1943 in Jerusalem’s Sanhedria neighborhood to provide for the orphans of the Shoah. The original building was bombed during the War of Independence and the facility moved to its present location in Katamon. Today, Sanhedria is a rehabilitation center for boys aged 6-18 years old from extremely disadvantaged backgrounds who suffered severe physical and/or emotional abuse and neglect in their early childhood. Sanhedria takes these kids at high risk for further abuse and neglect, and nurtures them in a warm and loving environment by providing for their physical, spiritual and emotional needs.

When the MMY students visit they run an arts and crafts program for 10 of the resident boys. Over the course of these sessions the girls have had an opportunity to watch the boys develop and grow up, and more importantly learn to trust them. Elyanna Saperstein, one of the volunteers describes the extent of what she has learnt from this experience.

“Over the months we have learnt as much from the children as they have learnt from us. We have learnt about real happiness and how to find happiness in any circumstance. From being exposed to these boys we have also learnt how to appreciate what we have and how much we have gained from giving. It has also been amazing for our Israel Experience. We have been exposed to Israeli culture, to the songs that children learn and other things that we would never have discovered without this. It has also been incredible for developing our Hebrew language skills.

Chesed at MMY takes many forms and allows our talmidot to use their talents and skills in a vast array of ways to improve the lives of others. Often, through this experience, they learn a little more about the world and about themselves and return to the Beit Medrash armed with a little more insight and wisdom. 

israelkeyboard

 

This installment in our series highlighting our Wednesday Night Enrichment Program, will focus on our Israel Advocacy Chug run by Rabbi Zeev Ben-Shachar of Jerusalem U.

The course provides students with an in-depth understanding of Zionism, Israeli history and the Arab-Israeli conflict. We cover topics including: the War of Independence, the predicament of the refugees, Israel's border disputes and security concerns, and the struggle for peace. By addressing these complex issues head on, students gain the knowledge to effectively articulate an informed position regarding the Land, history and people of Israel. 

The program includes a variety of multimedia educational resources, maps, images and videos, as well as current event discussions that have created a dynamic atmosphere in the class.

Read more: Israel Advocacy with Jerusalem U

Marathon-Tarama-and-Michal

By, Tamara Kahn, Current MMY Student 

On Friday morning, March 9, approximately 35,000 people participated in the Jerusalem Marathon, Half-Marathon, 10k, or 5k, and a portion of those people were MMY students. The MMY administration supported the race and encouraged students to run. They allowed organizations to come to present their charities, they hung up posters of encouragement, and they even provided a pre-race pasta party for runners.

The Jerusalem Half-Marathon was the third half-marathon in which I participated, and it was a wholly different experience from my two previous races. I ran both my previous half-marathons in my home state of Florida, one in Miami for Friendship Circle, and one in Ft. Lauderdale for HASC, and this year I was privileged to represent Gift of Life in the run through this holy city that has become my home since August. The terrain in Florida, the flattest state in the United States, does not compare to the vast hills of Yerushalayim. Since the 10k and a 5k options exist here as opposed to in Florida which only has the half-marathon and marathon options, many more people participated in the Jerusalem run than in the Florida runs. However, despite my training over the past several months for this highly anticipated race, during this race, I walked and did not run.

Training for a marathon is no easy feat, but training during a seminary gap year, especially in a seminary as focused and as busy as MMY, is nothing short of difficult. The major challenge to training aside from laziness, was the lack of time. This is our year for learning and growth, and there are always errands to run and places to be. The major struggle I encountered was attempting to balance my training with extra learning and chevruta study, spending time with friends, and fitting in three meals a day. Since I arrived at MMY, I have been motivated to exercise as often as possible, taking advantage of the exercise room downstairs and the running path by Tachana Rishona, which is where I did most of my training. Not only is exercise important to me physically, but mentally, as well; running and exercising allows me to clear my head and relieve any built up stress or tension. Since exercise is so important to me, I was never willing to sacrifice it. But as time went on and my priorities shifted, I had to keep rearranging my schedule to accommodate it, and I realized that my lunch and dinner breaks were too precious. So I began rising extra early to exercise in the mornings, before class began.

About a month before the race, I felt pain in my leg after one of my long runs, and it stalled my training process and inhibited my ability to run. I had reached my 10 mile run on my training schedule and I grew extremely frustrated, but I knew running more with my injury would only make it worse.

Read more: Running Through 3000 Years of History

Alum-teachers

In MMY there is no such thing as a former student, but sometimes the students become the teachers. For 5778, MMY welcomed 8 new faculty members. 3 of them were not new faces as, not that many years ago, they studied in the Beit Medrash where they now teach.

Zisse (Hanfling) Mueller, Sara (Lerer) Tanen & Elisheva (Watson) Levin, all from the MMY class of 5773, are now back and we spoke to them about their journeys to MMY and back again!

MMY originally beckoned Sara for the textual study and diverse courses. Inspired by the girls she had seen return from a year here, Sara became immersed in a world of Halacha study under the tutelage of Rabbi Lerner. “So much of what I am able to practice comes from those classes.”

Sara never left Israel after her time in MMY and credits her experience with Wednesday afternoon Chesed for much of what followed. After a year of volunteering at Midreshet Darkeynu she signed up to spend a year of Sherut Leumi there too – it is also how she met her husband! The home hospitality Shabbaton in Mitzpeh Yericho was the inspiration to build a home on a Yishuv one day.

Sara is now a Night Seder Assistentit in addition to studying for her Master’s Degree and teaching Tanach at Matan and the Hetzog Institute. She is excited to be back in the familiar halls. “I feel so privileged to be part of this great institution that I gained so much from when I was 18”.

Zisse & Elisheva have both returned to be Rakazot and be involved with programming in the school. They hope to help prepare the girls for living a Torah life after their time in seminary. They are excited to be welcomed into the Chevra of the faculty and to have the opportunity to the make an impact on the current girls as their teachers did for them. For Zisse the greatest impact was Torah MiSinai with Rabbi Katz, which, “helped me build a foundation for understanding the fluidity within Torah and Halacha.”

Elisheva remembers noticing the relationship between students and staff before she even enrolled. “When I came to look at MMY in 12th grade I immediately knew it was the right place for me. I noticed how genuinely the staff members cared about the students and how happy the girls looked!”

We are so lucky to have our students return to the MMY halls and help our current students with their learning and seminary experiences. They join Mrs Elsant, Mrs Eis, Dr Schick, Mrs Berman, Chana Meisler, Ahuva Schwartz, Tzipporah Rossman & Julie Gershbaum in this special group of role models for our students.