A Haredi Revolution in Women’s Talmud Study

Seven years ago, Hadassah Silberstein-Shemtov, herself a Ḥasid, established the Batsheva Learning Center to teach ḥaredi women Talmud. Rachel Frommer explains why this institution is so unusual, and what it has accomplished so far:

These ultra-Orthodox women are seeking to overhaul the average ḥaredi girl’s education, with its steady diet of biblical subjects, but very little study, if any, of Gemara or Mishna, the two [texts] that constitute the Talmud. Unlike the boys’ yeshiva system, which is founded on intimate study of Talmud, female ḥaredi education entirely excludes it.

These women believe their communities are in desperate need of not one or two learned women every other generation, but legions of them, who can teach girls Talmud starting from elementary school. They feel this educational overhaul is crucial to imbue ḥaredi girls with a true, deep understanding of their own Judaism. Without personal knowledge of Gemara and Mishna, the texts shaping every moment of an Orthodox Jewish life, they believe quotidian rituals and practices are done by rote, but without appreciation for their origins, development, and purpose.

They see a discordant reality where the writings forming the ancient roots of rabbinic Judaism are foreign lands to the women living by their strictures. They watch from outside as the learners of Talmud are inducted into a masculine fellowship of study with their contemporaries and the rabbinic figures animated in the Talmud’s pages. Communities are cloven in two, with men ingrained with a near-reflexive comprehension of the famed talmudic language and analytic method and women ignorant of the fundamental texts upon which their lives depend.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Haredim, Jewish education, Talmud, Women in Judaism

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy