BINA Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture

BINA is the leading organization at the intersection of Jewish Pluralism & Social Action in Israel. BINA strives to strengthen Israel as a democratic pluralistic society, by emphasizing Judaism as a culture, through Jewish values of Tikkun Olam (in Hebrew means “repair the world”). BINA means “wisdom” in Hebrew and it is also an acronym in Hebrew for “a workshop for the soul of the nation”: A phrase coined by Hebrew poet Chaim Nachman Bialik. BINA designs and implements year-long programs, integrating cultural, social and educational elements of Judaism, which reaches nearly 1,000 secular Israelis annually. BINA also offers seminars and public events for more than 25,000 participants every year, with the goal of enhancing the cultural identity and communal involvement of Israelis. BINA’s service and learning programs aim to inspire life-long appreciation and engagement in personal learning and social justice.

Activities

Beit Midrash

BINA’s Beit Midrash at Ramat Efal (15 minutes from the center of Tel Aviv) offers semester and yearlong courses in Jewish and Hebrew literature, history, philosophy and more. Instructors are among the most prominent in the country in their respective fields including: Ari Elon, Dov Elboim, Muki Tsur, Dr. Shosh Shapira, Dr. Moti Arad, Arye Budenheimer, Haim Beer, Karina Goldberg, Dr. Tzvia Valden, Amos Inon, Tomer Persico, Batya Rachmilevitz and others.

Courses (in Hebrew) range from ‘Yiddish Culture’ to ‘Bialik Prose’; from ‘Jewish History from the Roman Period’ to ‘Jewish Thought in the Middle Ages’, from ‘Stories of Early Pioneers’ to ‘Secularism in Modern Jewish Philosophy’.

Tel Aviv Yeshiva

Background:

The Secular Yeshiva in Tel Aviv, established in 2006, has grown to a student body of over 200 people. It operates out of a facility allocated by the Tel-Aviv municipality adjacent to the New Central Bus Station of Tel-Aviv. Situated in one of the most distressed neighborhoods of South Tel Aviv, the Yeshiva aspires to promote Judaism as a basis for “Tikkun Olam,” or repairing the world.

The Secular Yeshiva is emerging as a spiritual-cultural center and a hub for service-learning programs for Israeli and international young Jewish adults in the heart of secular Tel-Aviv. The Jewish cultural activities, special events, lectures, conferences and study sessions offered to the students and young adult population of Tel Aviv, are an important component of the Yeshiva’s activities (in Hebrew coined “Saf Beit Hamidrash”, which means “the threshold entering the house of study”). We view the Jewish calendar as an opportunity for individual and collective Jewish creativity, and attempt to strike a balance between new elements and repeated ones, as well as between tradition and renewal.

The number of students at the Secular Yeshiva has grown rapidly, testament to the growing demand of the Israeli public for significant cultural Jewish programming and to the high quality programs offered by the Secular Yeshiva. The Secular Yeshiva has already outgrown its current facility and is poised for continued growth over the coming years.

Jerusalem Yeshiva

Background:

The once-vibrant pluralistic Jewish identity of Jerusalem has eroded over the past generation due to a rise in religious extremism and a steady drop in secular population, especially among young adults. There is a growing perception that Jerusalem is no longer a home for non-orthodox Jews to build their lives, careers and families.

We believe that the key to reclaiming the city and reshaping it as a source of inspiration for young adults in Israel and around the world lies in the promotion of Jerusalem as a hub of young pluralistic Jewish creativity and culture.

Our Vision:

To develop Jerusalem as the center of a new, vibrant and rich contemporary Jewish culture; a city that serves as a source of inspiration for young Jews in Israel and around the world.

Our Mission:

To cultivate a community of young social-cultural activists that will engage in intense Jewish learning and contribute to a renaissance of pluralistic Jewish culture in Jerusalem.

Our Programs:

Established in 2011, the Jerusalem Secular Yeshiva (JSY) operates in the picturesque neighborhood of Ein Kerem, in partnership with BINA Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture and the local community center of Yuvalim. The curriculum sets new standards of quality and involves creative methodology – texts, lectures, Chavruta learning, tours, film, arts and crafts, and outdoor environmental learning and projects. The program offers students not only intellectual challenge, but also physical, spiritual and emotional development, to create a harmonious learning experience.

Gap Year

BINA’s International Mechina (gap-year program) is a unique program for high_school graduates from all over the world in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. It combines “Limud” & “Maaseh” (Study and Action) in an inclusive, pluralistic atmosphere.

 Skyline

Participants in the International Mechina come from high schools throughout North America and Europe for a semester of unique learning, social action and communal group life. The international group is a part of BINA’s Secular Yeshiva, a vibrant community of over 150 young adult activists in Tel Aviv.

Studies include an in-depth look into classical Jewish texts (Tanakh and Talmud) from a pluralistic perspective, Jewish thought and philosophy, social justice and economic theory, Zionism and Israel studies. Furthermore, the participants experience living in a group, shaping their holidays, Shabbat services and cultural activities throughout the year and managing a monthly budget.

The program includes intensive Hebrew language studies (Ulpan) upon arrival, as well as tours and field trips throughout the country in order to learn about Israeli society and history first hand.

Community programs – BINA Bashchuna (Bina in the hood)

Loss of community in society is a key cause of social disintegration and the emergence of harmful behaviors. Building community is a means to increase social justice, individual well-being and reduce negative impacts of otherwise disconnected individuals. BINA’s innovative community building efforts aim to revitalize underserved neighborhoods and improve the lives of its residents and their families, including social, educational, economic, physical, and cultural components. At the heart of our community building efforts is the principle of Jewish pluralism.

BINA has developed a model of community intervention, based on social action and community empowerment, with Jewish content as a basis and a means to bring about social change (“Talmud Mevi L’Maase” or “Study Which Leads to Action”). The program, called BINA BaShchuna (“Wisdom in the Neighborhood”), is a Comprehensive Community-Building Initiative (CCI), a method of implementing change through the creation or enhancement of community among individuals within discrete urban areas. This model has been successfully applied during the past 10 years in three south Tel-Aviv neighborhoods and over the past three years, replicated to Shchuna Dalet in Beer Sheva, Jaffa, Ramle and Beit Shemesh. BINA Bashchuna neighborhoods are among the most socio-economically challenged in Israel. Over the years BINA’s presence in these neighborhoods has made a significant impact on their residents. Hundreds have benefited from BINA’s educational/welfare work and many more have been exposed to the values of Jewish pluralism, social solidarity and social responsibility that BINA represents.

BINA’s approach is based on the assumption that community change must be rooted in the needs, assets, actions, and goals of neighborhood residents. Therefore, BINA seeks to actively engage residents in all aspects of the neighborhood transformation process, from identifying and prioritizing changes to devising and implementing strategies to achieve them. Engaging residents from diverse backgrounds to work individually and collectively to foster and sustain positive neighborhood change is, in our view, putting Jewish pluralism “into action”.

BINA Bashchuna focuses on building ongoing, permanent relationships with the local authorities, welfare and education departments, schools, Youth Advancement (Kidum Noar), community centers, local NGOs and other stakeholders. Through joint action, BINA’s model creates new affiliations and connections among constituencies and populations in Israel with very diverse Jewish identities, for the purpose of applying a collective vision in moving the community towards change.

Jewish Education in Public Schools

BINA is a key program provider and content developer of informal Jewish education in public schools throughout Israel. The Center focuses on themes of Jewish pluralism, Judaism as a culture and Jewish social justice. Programming includes teacher education, student seminars, intergenerational learning and facilitator training. BINA is an increasingly well known institution for schools; teachers and young Israelis who wish to deepen their knowledge and engagement with Jewish culture and explore its potential role in their lives, thus contributing to developing a diverse pluralistic Israeli future.

Working with the IDF

Since 2010, BINA has led Jewish pluralism programs in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces). Programs include seminars, workshops, Shabbat programs, and more. BINA is one of the first and few non-orthodox organizations in Israel to lead Jewish identity, Jewish learning, and Shabbat programs in the IDF.

English/International Programs

International Jewish People hood lies at the core of BINA. We believe that Jewish People around the world must learn and work together in order to strengthen Israel, Judaism, and Tikkun Olam. BINA runs numerous programs that bring together Israeli and Diaspora Jews in pluralistic Jewish learning and social action: BINA GAP Year, Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, BINA Summer, and other special programs and tours.

To BINA’s website

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