It takes something really special to fill a beis midrash on a random Tuesday evening in the middle of the summer. The Young Israel of Jamaica Estates did just that, as it inaugurated its newly renovated beis midrash with an exceptional presentation given by powerhouse couple Rabbanit Michelle and Rabbi Seth Farber.
While introducing the Scholars-in-Residence, the YIJE mara d’asra, Rabbi Dr. Dov Lerner, noted, “The Farbers are pioneers in their respective fields – working to expand and deepen women’s Jewish education and keeping Israel’s religious institutions responsive to its people… It is our pleasure to host them, and our privilege to have an opportunity to learn from them.”
Rabbanit Michelle Cohen Farber is the first and only woman to give an online Daf Yomi shiur for women. Founding Hadran with a mission to advance Talmud study for women, she has engaged hundreds of women in Talmud study all over the world, and spearheaded the first International Siyum HaShas for Women, filling up Binyanei HaUmah in Jerusalem in January 2020.Rabbi Seth Farber is the founder of ITIM, an organization dedicated to making Israel’s religious establishment more respectful and responsive to the needs of all Jewish people .He has been working tirelessly, navigating the complicated Israeli religious bureaucracy, as Israel continues to absorb immigrants from every corner of the world.
Rabbanit Michelle began teaching the day’s daf, K’subos 20, in her trademark exuberant fashion, elucidating the various arguments and providing the necessary background. She divided the daf into three parts, allowing Rabbi Farber to tag-team at particular junctions to illustrate how the Talmudic principles of the daf are being played out in the real world in our beloved, but ever complicated, homeland.
While discussing witnesses and the veracity of documents, issues of forgery and memory were tackled, as well. These, Rabbi Farber explained, have very real and serious ramifications in modern day Israel, where immigrants are often questioned and challenged regarding their documentation and “Jewishness.” Issues of memory and how this can affect testimony can become critical when a woman, who was supposedly married at a very young age in a foreign country, cannot remember the details, affecting her status and the status of her children. The duo continued throughout the daf, engaging the audience and bringing the daf to life through real life examples that ITIM has encountered in its important work.
Regular Daf Yomi learners, local dedicated Hadran students of Rabbanit Michelle, and first timers that were in attendance all gained immensely from this shiur in the comfort of YIJE’s new beis midrash furniture, custom built at Kibbutz Lavi. This is sure to be the first of many inspiring learning events in the beautiful space designed to make learning Torah accessible and comfortable.