Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"Machon Me'ir" and "Ohr Sameach"


I have started a new series on my German religious blog, as one reader asked me to define various Orthodox groups in Israel. The main difficulty for German Jews seems to be not having a clue about national religious, litvishe, chassidishe, Carlebach, modern - Orthodox and further Orthodox directions. Chabad is automatically identified with the "Meshiach stuff and Prostelyzing" whereas there seems to be a total misunderstanding regarding national religious and Haredim. 

How I started the new series explaining "Who is Who", I chose an easy example: Two famous Yeshivot in Jerusalem. Please note that both Yeshivot are for male students only ! First of all there is the national religious Yeshiva “Machon Me’ir” in Jerusalem's national religious neighbourhood Kiryat Moshe. A neighbourhood where I used to live for a couple of years. The second Yeshiva I am referring to is “Ohr Sameach” (and I don't want to listen to any brainwashing accusations concerning Ohr Sameach :-))))) .

As I used to live very close to Machon Me'ir and even knew some students, I know the Yeshiva quite a bit. Machon Me'ir as well as Ohr Sameach are both Ba'al Teshuva (newly religious) institutions but besides all kinds of ideology differences, Machon Me'ir offers conversion courses to Judaism. Ohr Sameach doesn't but there is a rather well - known Rabbi in the neighbourhood dealing with conversions. 

Machon Me'ir teaches Torah, Halachot, some Philosophy but especially the love to Eretz Israel. The Jewish connection to the land of our forefathers. It is a very Zionist Yeshiva and the students come from all over the world. Israelis, new immigrants from France, the US, South America, Russia or from the UK. The Yeshiva is quite famous in Israel but some people participating in the conversions courses told me that their dormitories are too crowded, that theft between the conversion candidates has been taking place and that potential Russian converts get drunk at night. 

Ohr Sameach is located in the haredi neighbourhood of Ma'alot Dafna: Between Mea Shearim, Sanhedria and Ramat Eshkol. I have lost some touch but I used to know some students from there. Some years ago, the Yeshiva offered Talmud classes for beginners. The policy was to attract more newcomers to sign up. Ohr Sameach which is mainly seen as more intellectual than “Aish HaTorah” in Jerusalem's Old City, thought that new students who are just finding their Jewish heritage would love to study something more advanced. Why not Talmud then instead of "AISH'S" "Free Will" programme by Rabbi Motti Berger. Ohr Sameach even offered the first year of study for free. However, I cannot say whether this is still the case. On the other hand, various Ohr Sameach students used to claim that AISH has the better food. :-))). 

Both Yeshivot accept Jews only (except for Machon Me'ir conversion course). The Machon is partly sponsored by the Jewish Agency and tuition costs are rather low: About 300 $ per month / including accommodation. For exact prices, please ask Machon Me'ir directly !

I suppose that Ohr Sameach, as most American institutions is much more expensive unless you are asking for a scholarship.


Machon Me'ir 

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