secular yeshiva
Revellers at the opening of Jerusalem’s “secular yeshiva,” which is to be located in the heart of the capital’s party district. Photo by Emil Salman
Text size

Some 250 people - secular, religious and everything in between - feted Jerusalem's "secular yeshiva" at Ha'oman 17, the capital's nightclub and party venue, Sunday night. The yeshiva does not yet exist, but is due to open next September. Its goal is to enable Israel Defense Forces veterans to study both secular and holy scriptures. The evening opened with a class conducted by one of the yeshiva's sponsors, Ariel Levinson, who drew a line connecting Hanukkah, Zionist thinker Ahad Ha'am and secularist Hebrew writer Micha Berdichevsky. It continued with a lecture by Prof. Ariel Hirschfeld on the Song of Songs. Afterward the future yeshiva students - men and women - went outside to ponder the secular beats produced by deejay Barry Sacharoff. "The idea is to speak the language of a young secular person," said Levinson. "In our view, the study experience can be equal to the dance experience. It's a totality, not a dichotomy. People felt the tension of something that had never happened before, as though this were a laboratory for experiments in Judaism. This is how I see the secular yeshiva, too."