This year JOFA partnered with Nishma Research to survey communities on their Tikkun Leil Shavuot learning programs. While the survey is still underway, here are five tips for making your community’s learning program more accessible for women. It may be too late to implement these suggestions this year, but keep them in mind for future learning programs.
- Make shiurim open to both men and women. It’s a simple suggestion, but many Orthodox communities still offer separate classes for men and women. This limits the number of shiurim women can attend, and often the shiurim designated for women address a predictable range of topics. By opening up all shiurim to both men and women you can broaden the appeal of your learning program for both genders.
- Have women scholars or women in the community teach. This sends a message to members of your community that you value women’s voices in Torah learning settings. It says that not only do you want women to come learn, but that you want women to assume positions of Torah leadership in your community.
- Begin the program earlier in the evening. This will make your learning program more accessible not only to women, but to many members of the community – including the elderly and children – who might not be able to able to stay up throughout the night. Offer children’s programming concurrent to classes for adults so the whole family can join!
- Organize a Tikkun Yom Shavuot. For families with young children, parents must decide who can attend overnight learning and who must stay home with kids. More often than not, the mother will forgo learning in shul. Offer classes during the day so that parents who stay home at night can still participate in learning over the holiday.
- Help organize babysitting options. This may be difficult, but perhaps is the most effective way to make it possible for both parents to attend the full learning program. What could be a more worthwhile investment than ensuring we can all be present to accept the Torah we were given on Shavuot?