In April 2018, ten women graduated from the Chief Rabbi’s Ma’ayan Programme, having completed 18 months of learning and training to become high-level educators for the Jewish community, as well as advisors in the area of Taharat Hamishpacha (laws of family purity) and women’s health issues.
The Ma’ayanot have a great deal to offer communities and the Office of the Chief Rabbi would be pleased to discuss various options with you to find a way to maximise benefit in your community.
What can a Ma’ayan offer?
A Ma’ayan can offer the following provision to a community:
- Capacity as an outstanding educator, to add to the educational offering that a community has in place. This will relate to all subjects and areas of Jewish learning, and can benefit the whole community.
- Knowledge and expertise in the area of Taharat Hamishpacha (laws of family purity) which can be used to:
- Deal with individual questions on Taharat Hamishpacha
- Run programming for women in the area of Taharat Hamishpacha
- Knowledge and understanding of wider women’s health, emotional, psychological and mental health issues, as well as the halachic perspective on these issues, which will enable the Ma’ayan to:
- Run programming for women in any of these areas
- Support women of all ages in the community and to signpost women to services for further support, as appropriate.
If you would be interested in knowing how a Ma’ayan could help your community, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8343 6219.
To deliver the programme, the Chief Rabbi assembled a team of experts in their fields. The halachic strand was taught by Dayan Simons of the London Beth Din, and the medical and scientific aspects were taught by lecturers from University College London’s Institute for Women’s Health. Participants were exposed to a wide range of expertise through lectures and workshops delivered by doctors, professors, psychologists, fertility experts, educational and programming specialists, and the Chief Rabbi himself.
The Chief Rabbi introduces the Ma’ayan Programme, February 2016:
“Hashem’s Torah is perfect; it restores the soul. Hashem’s testimony is trustworthy; it makes the simple wise. The directives of Hashem are upright; they gladden the heart. Hashem’s mitzvot are clear, enlightening the eyes” (Tehillim 19:8-9)
These are the words chosen by King David to praise the Torah as the perfect and inimitable vehicle through which we can perform the will of the Almighty.
“Mitzvat Hashem Barah, Meirat Eiynayim” he says – ‘the mitzvot are clear, enlightening the eyes’. Rashi explains that the word ‘barah’ here means not that the mitzvot are ‘clear’ but that they ‘shine’ and it is that which ‘enlightens the eyes’. The ability to harness the shining light of our mitzvot so that they do not become a blinding glare, is a very special gift which many with wisdom and experience have, enabling them to explain, guide and advise on matters of Torah observance.
I have been privileged to meet women in the UK and abroad who are blessed with this gift and who are a great source of inspiration to others. Our communities should have the opportunity to harness the talent of such women, appointed in a formal capacity, to ‘enlighten the eyes’ of those around them.
It is for this reason that I am delighted to introduce this course which will ultimately provide our communities with exceptional female educators who will have particular expertise in matters relating to women’s health and the area of Taharat Hamishpacha (family purity). Experience shows that there is a real need within our communities to place women in a position to offer guidance and advice on issues which women members may feel more comfortable discussing with a woman. The course will also provide advanced pedagogical training with a focus on adult education – a skill set which I have long considered an essential ingredient for Jewish life to flourish.
As such, greater access to qualified and experienced women in our communities who can guide and teach will surely be a positive leap forward in encouraging a greater appreciation of and adherence to Torah and mitzvot.
It is no accident that the phrase ‘Meirat Eiynayim’ can be contracted to ‘Ma’ayan’, a Hebrew name which translates as ‘fountain’ or ‘spring’. The Torah is frequently compared to water: just as there can be no existence without water, the Torah is the fundamental and eternal constant without which we as a nation simply cannot survive.
The ‘Ma’ayan’ programme will strengthen our communities’ Torah observance and learning, in order ‘Lehagdil Torah uleha’adira – to magnify Torah and bring glory to its name.