A division exists in contemporary Israeli society where most people fall into one of two camps: the very secular or the very religious.
Dr. Ruth Calderon believes that there should be no division between civil life and religious life, and that the richness and depth of Torah study can — and should —
be accessible to all. Today, she is one of the leading figures in Israel dedicated to creating a pluralistic Israeli-Jewish identity and reviving Hebrew Culture.
In 1989, Calderon established Elul, the first secular, pluralistic, egalitarian beit
midrash in Israel where men and women, whether observant or non observant,
can come together to study Jewish texts. Elul has grown to provide a variety of
Jewish and Israeli cultural and educational events that give expression to the
diverse voices within Israel. (Quick note: beit midrash is Hebrew for house of
learning, and infers a place for Torah study and for interpretation and development
of Jewish law, a.k.a. halakha).
In 1996, she founded the Tel Aviv-based ALMA, a home for Hebrew culture for anyone from any background, whether secular or religious. Pluralistic and dialogue-based, ALMA offers a new approach
“Torah is a gift to all of us. It doesn’t belong to any one movement or segment of
society,” noted Calderon during her introductory speech to the Israeli Knesset
where she was a member from 2013 to 2015. The 15 minute speech is worth a
In addition to her important leadership, Calderon is a wonderful teacher who
communicates her deep love of the Talmud and appreciation of its unfathomable
depths. She also has a delightful sense of humor and is genuinely modest.
You can also hear from Dr. Ruth Calderon in person at the first-ever Limmud
Seattle, which will take place Jan. 13 and 14, 2018. Register now for your chance
to meet this visionary scholar, community builder and activist. Special thanks to
the Samis Foundation for its generous support and for helping bring Dr. Ruth
Calderon to Limmud Seattle.
What’s around the bend of your Jewish adventure?