Tamar Beer loves to learn. But now, the student has become the master: Beer has created a beit midrash program offering high-level Torah study to Modern Orthodox women in New York. Called Bnot Sinai and housed in the Young Israel of North Woodmere, the program was inaugurated last August with 20 students, and will launch its second semester this summer. Not bad for a 22-year-old college student, who developed her love for Torah study at her father’s knee not that long ago.
“My father, a dedicated learner himself, taught me the Brisker method of studying Torah,” said Beer. “This helped me to realize the infinite depth, complexity, and beauty that Torah and the Oral Law contained.”
Beer furthered her quest for learning at Shalhevet High School and Midreshet Lindenbaum in Israel, where Beer credits her teachers with modeling dedication to learning and integrating Torah into their lives. After a semester at Hunter College, Beer switched to Stern, where one of her favorite courses was Rabbi Moshe Kahn’s advanced Talmud class. “At Stern, I’m surrounded by and challenged by other like-minded learners,” she said.
But between semesters, Beer found the options limited for women seeking serious Torah study in a single-sex environment. “So I decided to create it,” said Beer simply. What started as an informal WhatsApp group with Beer and some friends exchanging ideas grew into a formalized program. Beer procured funding after successfully pitching Bnot Sinai at “Shtark Tank,” run by Yavneh of the Orthodox Union’s JLIC wing. She recruited an impressive roster of teachers by contacting former teachers and enlisting the help of Nechama Price, who directs Stern’s graduate program of Talmud study.
A lot of work goes into being Bnot Sinai’s rosh tochnit (program director). “Between scheduling classes, matching teachers with students, and fundraising, directing the program is more complicated than I initially thought,” she said. “But I’m learning and taking everyone’s feedback into account. I feel optimistic that this is a new era for women who seek serious Torah scholarship and leadership positions in Jewish education.”
For the birds: Beer has three cockatiels: Pearly, Sunset and Calvin.