The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies

About the Institute

Schechter’s Graduate School remains the only academic institution in Israel devoted primarily to the teaching of Jewish Studies. Through its multiple tracks, the Graduate School provides cutting-edge educational opportunities for professionals who seek meaning in their Jewish identity through interdisciplinary study, and are looking for the highest academic standard. Together, the School’s students and graduates form a network of highly motivated individuals throughout Israel. They are agents of change, influencing Israeli society as it forges a new increasingly diverse, multicultural, and pluralistic identity.

Contact Us

4 Avraham Granot st., Jerusalem, Israel
+972-74-7800600
Students
Faculty members
SIJS Graduates
Courses

M.A. Tracks and Programs

The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies offers Israel’s largest MA program in the field. Graduates of the program will be awarded an M.A. degree in Jewish Studies recognized by Israel’s Council for Higher Education. Students can choose from the following tracks:

    • Jerusalem and Land of Israel Studies – The only academic program in the Jerusalem area that focuses on the history, geography and culture of Jerusalem in particular and of Israel in general. Study tours provide an intimate look at a diverse city held sacred over the generations by members of the three monotheistic religions.
    • Judaism and the Arts – The only program in Israel that places Jewish and Israeli artists and their work at the forefront of learning, emphasizing the special connection between Judaism and creativity. Students study the roots of Jewish music, architecture, mosaics in the ancient synagogues, spectacular illustrations in medieval Hebrew manuscripts and develop an understanding of the unique style of Jewish and Israeli cinema and theater through the ages. No prior knowledge of the arts is required. It is possible to include practical studio work or complete theoretical studies only.
    • Gender and Feminist Studies –A first-of-its-kind, multidisciplinary program in Israel that combines theoretical and practical studies on gender and the status of women in Judaism. The gender perspective informs every aspect of the curriculum, including feminist theories in their Jewish context and the place of women in contemporary halakhah. The track includes a practical unit that will train students to lead gender discourse in Israeli society in general and in their workplace in particular.
    • Bible – The Bible is the cornerstone of the Jewish people and Israeli culture. This innovative track introduces the treasures of knowledge and wisdom inherent in the Bible and connects students to the values ​​of contemporary Jewish-Israeli society. The program features lecturers from the fields of Bible, Jewish thought, literature, the arts, history and archeology, as well as leading Israeli writers and intellectuals.
    • Jewish Thought – Life in Israel in the 21st century raises religious, existential and cultural questions about Jewish identity, a Jewish and democratic state, social justice and more. This specialization introduces students to the main streams of Jewish thought that have developed over the generations (including Kabbalah and Hasidic literature) and provides an important resource for understanding, coping and solving existential and everyday problems of Israeli society.
    • Midrash and Aggadah – Meet the sages who lived at the end of the Second Temple period in the Land of Israel and in the Babylonian exile through the study of midrash and aggadah. Students develop the tools for in-depth analysis and critical thinking about these important compilations of classic rabbinic literature.
    • Talmud and Halakhah – The Talmud remains a living and vibrant body of work, the masterpiece of Jewish Sages. This program provides students with advanced tools for critical, in-depth analysis of a wide range of Talmudic and Halakhic literature. The curriculum includes an introduction to both the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmud as well as seminars on current issues such as education in rabbinic literature, gender and halakhah and medical ethics.
    • Jews of Spain and Islamic Lands – An original and first-of-its-kind program in Israel to learn about the development of piyyut (liturgical poetry) in Spain and North Africa, the customs and halakhah in the Yemenite circle of life, and to discuss the issue of gender and dress of Jewish women in Islamic countries.
    • Israel Studies and Zionism – An innovative master’s degree program that deals with the historical and social aspects of the Zionist movement and the State of Israel, from the rise of Zionism in the 19th century to the present day.
    • Jewish History – Explore the history of the Jewish people through the window of the writings of Jewish historians of different generations. Students are exposed to both traditional and modern approaches to representing the Jewish past and gain a deep understanding of the problems of Jewish existence throughout history and its relevance to contemporary society.
    • Jewish Culture and Israeli Leadership (Ofakim Program) – A special program for residents of the Negev to learn communal leadership from a Jewish perspective. Students will be given tools to develop leadership roles in their communities of ​​residence.

Our students can also major in these special programs:

The Maccabi M.A. Community Leadership Program
Offers hands-on leadership training for community center and nonprofit professionals, integrating Jewish values and content into their programs and organizations. Maccabi (acronym for Community Leadership in the Jewish Spirit) attracts community activists from around the country, combining Jewish studies with practical tools for building strong community-based professional leadership.

Marpeh Spiritual Care
Is based on Jewish values such as bikkur holim (visiting the sick) gemilut hasadim (deeds of loving-kindness), and grounded in Jewish tradition. Students, including educators, clergy, and health care professionals offer solace and support to people across a wide spectrum of ages, religious backgrounds and cognitive capacities, both in cities and in rural areas. Clients served include Jews and non-Jews, hospital patients and their families, patients in hospice, the frail elderly, Holocaust survivors, Russian immigrants, children with special needs and their parents and many more.

Bible and Society
Designed in coordination with Israel’s Ministry of Education, aims to reverse the trend of declining Bible studies in Israel’s public schools. It offers an attractive interdisciplinary curriculum alongside generous scholarships. Additionally, a robust yearly 9-part Bible study series of lectures and guided tours showcases some of Israel’s leading literary and academic figures.

Judaism and the Arts M.A. program, “Informed Creations” 
Provides an academic platform where Jewish traditional texts meet Israeli contemporary culture in the plastic arts, music and dance. Offered in conjunction with HaKubia Art School, this program combines theory and practice in a dynamic, interdisciplinary curriculum. Schechter faculty present the philosophical, historical and religious underpinnings of Jewish art and the creative process alongside experts in sculpture, drawing, painting, ceramics who provide hands-on workshops.

Research Groups

Zion and the Diaspora in the Past, Present and Future:
Social, Cultural and Educational Aspects

Zion and the Diaspora in the Past, Present and Future: Social, Cultural and Educational Aspects is a joint interdisciplinary research project and think tank, headed by Schechter’s Prof. Yossi Turner and comprised of the highest level of scholars and intellectuals from Israel and the Diaspora. It meets a number of times a year.

The Center for Women in Jewish Law

The Center for Women in Jewish Law has been devoted to researching, publishing and educating the public on the rights of women from the perspective of the Jewish legal tradition. Its publications, including the seven-issue Hebrew-English Jewish Law Watch, and its magnum opus Za’akat Dalot (The Cry of the Wretched): Halakhic Solutions for the Agunot of our Time, has advanced Jewish law advocacy research in the area of agunot (women whose husbands refuse them a writ of divorce). The Center has also published The Status of Women in Jewish Law: Responsa (in Hebrew and English editions), and a series of booklets, To Learn and To Teach (in five languages), which provides a religious/legal basis for egalitarianism within Jewish tradition. Newest publications include Ask the Rabbi, a collection of responsa written by two women rabbis and Taking the Plunge: A Practical and Spiritual Guide to the MikvehAll books may be purchased online at the Schechter Catalog.

The Center for Judaism and the Arts

The Center for Judaism and the Arts enriches the culture of Jewish life in Israel. Its central educational initiative is the TALI Virtual Midrash website, an electronic collection of fine and folk Art on Biblical themes that has uploaded over 1,100 images related to Biblical subjects and catalogued them in English and Hebrew, with cross reference search capabilities by artist, theme, time period and topical essays. The site was created by Schechter faculty member Dr. Jo Milgrom and by Dr. Joel Duman.

The Institute of Applied Halakhah

The Institute of Applied Halakhah was founded in 1997 in order to create a library of halakhic literature in Hebrew, English, Russian and other languages to help foster the study and observance of halakhah. The Institute publishes responsa, bibliographies, guides to practical halakhah, and books on the philosophy of Jewish law, and also hosts a website in Hebrew and English, Responsa for Today. The Institute’s books can be purchased here.

The Midrash Project

The Midrash Project at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies is publishing a series of books on midrash, including critical editions of at least eight midrashim. The series is edited by Profs. David Golinkin and Shamma Friedman. Each critical edition presents the midrash based on the best manuscript, and includes selected variant readings, reference to parallel sources in Rabbinic literature, and a critical commentary.

Leadership

Board of Trustees Executive Committee

  • Jonathan Steinberg, Chair, Executive Committee
  • Shmuel Shemesh, Treasurer
  • Prof. Doron Bar
  • Sophie Fellman
  • Esther Ordan
  • Avi Porten
  • Rabbi Benjamin Segal
  • Moshe Sharashove
  • Yaacov Tsur
  • Adir Waldman
  • Eliezer Yaari

Trustees

  • Saul Sanders, Chair, USA
  • Colette Avital, Israel
  • Dr. David Breakstone, Israel
  • Dr. Zvi Gabbay, Israel
  • Prof. David Golinkin, Israel
  • Prof. Ed Greenstein, Israel
  • Gavriel Hassin, Israel
  • Rabbi Alan Iser, USA
  • Ilana Laderman-Mushkin, Israel
  • Claudio Pincus, USA
  • Barry Rifkin, Israel
  • Laurence Sassi, Israel
  • Prof. Shuly Schwartz, USA
  • Eli Zahav, Israel

Honorary Trustees

  • Prof. Jehuda Reinharz
  • Robert Rifkind
  • Prof. Ismar Schorsch
  • Prof. Alice Shalvi

Ex Officio

  • Eitan Cooper, Executive Vice President
  • Dr. Tamar Kadari, Dean

* Ex-officio
** Honorary member

Events

Prof. Doron Bar

President

Our students and graduates form a strong country-wide network. Active, intellectually curious, community minded, they are agents of change who influence Israeli society as it forges an increasingly diverse, multicultural, and pluralistic identity.

Dr. Tamar Kadari

Dean

Studying at Schechter is also a way, from the academic perspective, to connect people to their roots. There is a deep thirst for learning Judaism, it draws people back to their grandparents, their roots. Students are looking for connection and they find us. And by offering rich academic knowledge of Jewish history and culture, we help them find themselves.

Yael Segev

Principal and educator in Ofakim for 44 years, today Deputy Mayor of Ofakim; Schechter M.A. graduate in Jewish Women’s Studies

At Schechter, we learned about the different streams in Judaism. This is where religious pluralism came to life for me. I also realized how crucial it is to build a strong Jewish identity curriculum within our school, especially for the many students who came from the FSU, where they had little or no Jewish background.

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