Suggestions for a Study Program for a Well Educated Baalat Teshuva

Dear Beyond BT Readers,

I am a 33 year old baalat teshuva. I am considering attending a study program in Israel next year, and am looking for advice about which are best suited for a women with a postgraduate education.

I’d like a seminary that is Orthodox and were I’ll be exposed to different hashkafot. I’ve met some people who have attended Midreshet Rachel (part of Shappell’s/Darche Noam) and this seemed like it would be a good fit. I wanted to consider other options though.

Any advice I could get would be greatly appreciated.


9 comments on “Suggestions for a Study Program for a Well Educated Baalat Teshuva

  1. I attended midreshet Rachel in my 30s after my graduate degree and found it to be a very good fit. They teach from the sources and do not push any particular hashkafa, allowing students to explore their place within the frum world. The staff is fantastic and supportive and in general all of the students and alumni that I have met have been extraordinary women. I know many people who also really loved Shearim. Wherever you choose, it is such a gift to be able to learn Torah in Israel! Mazal Tov and enjoy it!

  2. Shapell’s is a widely respected entry port, but offering endorsement without knowing more about you would not be in your best interest.

    Since I’ve taught chassidus at nearly all the institutions mentioned above (with the exception of Pardes) I hope you’ll consider the following: why not ask Hashem, in seclusion and in your own words, to protect and guide your return process? This is what students of the Holy Baal Shem Tov do. After all, choosing how to return to Hashem is a lifelong process that is renewed daily by even the greatest teachers of Torah. Light to your path!

  3. My wife and I are good friends with the head of Midreshet Rachel, her husband and family-a great educator and a great person and superb choice-for learning and being exposed to the best of the MO, RZ and Charedi worlds, as opposed to being shown a “my way or the highway” hashkafic approach .

  4. Although I did not end up working out, I was encouraged to apply to Pardes by an Orthodox Rabbi and his Rabbanit (who also happens to be an alumna of the institution). I have only heard positive things about the program, and even if I heard negative things, I would not say them, since it is assur (forbidden) to say lashon hara (malicious speech) about another Jew or a Jewish institution.

  5. Not all the information about Pardes given above is accurate. But whether any institution is orthodox or not is easily verifiable, and I think that Rebecca (who after all has postgraduate education) ought to be trusted to figure it out.

    Especially when there is a risk of badmouthing people, and especially when some of the information is inaccurate.

  6. It should be made clear that Pardes is NOT an orthodox institution – men and women learn together in chavrusa – not only that but dorms are also mixed. Pardes is a very controversial place and shunned by the entire mainstream orthodox community here in Israel, be it charedi, dati lumi, mizrachi, sefardi, litvish, chassidish – all are united, against pardes and other Non-Torah establishments like it.

    I am not coming to “trash” any particular person, movement or such like – only to ensure an honest picture is given, since the post asks for an Orthodox seminary

  7. Consider Pardes. Their students come from a wide variety of backgrounds (although almost all are college-educated, many with graduate degrees), but all of the faculty are Orthodox. Many of the students are balei tshuva, although not all of them are Orthodox–several graduates each year enter Reform or Conservative rabbinical schools.

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