What is the Meshivat Nefesh project?
The Meshivat Nefesh project aims to provide women and girls with an attentive female ear and responder to tailor a response to their questions, a response they couldn’t always get in other ways.
What prompted this idea?
Women and girls of various ages feel the need to take counsel with a Torah-observant person, not only to discuss Halachic issues, but also to voice questions concerning faith, worldview, ways of life, and guidance.
Physical or virtual access to women that can help serve as an attentive ear in the world of Torah scholars. Women and girls need to hear from women, and to be able to discuss anything at all, frankly and openly, with a woman, especially when it comes to personal and intimate matters that are decidedly feminine.
However, these female personalities aren’t always available to women. They aren’t as well-known as their male counterparts, because they don’t have any official role. There are no woman-led communities, and they have less opportunities to make themselves known to the public.
What we need is more extensive and organized response. But how will this happen?
To fulfill this need, we are currently creating the basic infrastructure for our internet site, while bearing in mind the range of needs that the project is meant to address:
A preliminary map of needs and responses:
- Recruiting and training the responders
- Defining an organizational structure that will provide the best response. It will include building an advisory forum where rabbis, rabbaniyot and professionals can provide advice and guidance to responders as they address questions concerning halachah and personal issues that border on halachah and faith. (If a question requires professional attention, the inquirer will be referred to a professional).
Who is our target audience?
Ultimately, we want to reach out to all women. However, in the beginning, in the interest of fostering a developing process, we chose to focus on girls and young women. High-school aged girls are going through the process of formulating their religious identities, a process encompassing everything from respecting parents to issues of modesty, the relationship between the sexes, and the status of women in Judaism.
These young women won’t always manage to have their concerns addressed through the formal education system, and they often feel the need to consult with a Torah-observant woman who is neutral, uninvolved, and non-judgmental. Sometimes, a dialog that allows the young woman to remain anonymous is in order.
Once these young women take leave of their educational frameworks and face “the real world”, a number of challenges await them. These include what women typically face when they do their army service or national volunteer service. They may need to adjust to living with unfamiliar roommates from various religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, to manage their time on their own, or to work under a managing or commanding authority. They will have to cope with the service itself, or the encounters that it entails, and they will encounter challenges in later stages of life and at many other junctures when decisions need to be made. Such challenges are right around the corner for them.
They will need to handle complex new relationships, and think about studying, acquiring a profession, starting a family, and marital life. Red lights will go on. They will be bombarded with questions like “what do you want to do next year?”, or “what do you plan to do with the rest of your life?”. Naturally, all of these processes occur while these women are still building their identity and religious Jewish women.
Besides responding to inquirers, the project also allows us to empower female personalities within the world of Torah. Through Meshivat Nefesh and its platform, professional female Torah-observant personalities who have accumulated a great deal of experience in education and are spiritual leaders with a profound and extensive worldview will become available to respond to women all over Israel, not just those within the social circles and environments that enable them to become acquainted with these female personalities.
For more information on the project, please write us at email@example.com.
Support the project:
Running this project requires us to invest many resources in activities like building and maintaining the website and paying the responders and site manager reasonable compensation. All or part of the website can be dedicated to an ilui neshama (for more information, please contact us).
To contribute, please visit this link: Donate to Meshivat Nefesh.
The Project Administration:
Rabbanit Dr. Tamar Meir, member of Beit Hillel’s management board
Rabbanit Shira Sapir, member of Beit Hillel
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