Latest News

December 18, 2014

Dear Fellow Modern Orthodox Idealist,

I want you to dream with me for a few minutes.

Five years from now, women will – for the first time – have the opportunity to learn and contribute to Talmudic and Halakhic discourse at the highest post-semikhah yeshiva level. They will write articles about topics that have no significantly gendered content and they will have influence commensurate with their knowledge, creativity, and character.

They will be hired to teach students like themselves, and a virtuous cycle of Torah will commence.

Five years from now, American and Israeli halakhic scholars will directly discuss the key issues of the day, rather than responding to media reports or negotiating with the Chief Rabbinate. Israelis will learn about the American experience of minority empowerment, and Americans will learn from the Israeli experience of majority responsibility. Israelis will learn about the costs and benefits of denominationalism, and Americans will learn about the costs and benefits of religious monopoly in a pluralistic society.

They will create a halakhic discourse that learns from everything human and that is a constant sanctification of the Divine Name.

All of this will take place in the context of Modern Orthodoxy at its best – rigorous scholarship in an intellectually open atmosphere, full recognition and deep appreciation of the Tzelem Elokim in every human being, full commitment to and deep responsibility for Torah and Halakhah.  

If you share this dream, please support the Center for Modern Torah Leadership with a generous contribution.

So how do we get from this dream to reality?

The Center for Modern Torah Leadership has a proven educational formula. We take enormously talented participants, help them generate an amazingly intense Torah environment, and empower and obligate them to produce rigorous and deeply felt original Torah. We’ve done this for eighteen years in our Summer Beit Midrash. And since September, we’ve been growing by leaps and bounds.

We’ve reached out to the over 150 alumni of the Summer Beit Midrash, and begun building them into a community of leaders. We’ve had a successful first alumni shabbaton, and a successful first online alumni shiur; we’ve created an active listserv for alumni of the past five years; we’ve published an alum’s dvar Torah every week, and we’ve made our Facebook page a platform for alumni writing. We ran Pride without Prejudice, a colloquium for rabbis and educators that included presentations by several alumni.

We modelled passionate, respectful, authentic Torah disagreement for our alumni in our series on Partnership Minyanim, which received over 12,000 blog reads. Our weekly Dvar Torah reaches more subscribers and is featured on a major listserv for Jewish educators, and we’ve made it printer-friendly for shuls. Since October, I’ve been to Columbia, YU, Stern, Yale, and Princeton teaching new and old students, building broad excitement about CMTL’s vision for Modern Orthodoxy. Please check our website and like our Facebook page for more information and regular updates.

But all this is just the beginning.

Next semester, while building on those accomplishments and preparing for the 2015 Summer Beit Midrash, we’ll hold a series of public conversations on Modernity and Halakhah with Rabbi Dov Linzer, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, and we expect to follow that with a series featuring roshei yeshiva from Yeshiva University. We’ll publish responsa from the 2014 Summer Beit Midrash on disability and Halakhah, as well as proceedings from our colloquium, and research papers on conversion procedures and approaches to resolving agunah cases. I will be scholar in residence at synagogues and campuses from NY to Washington to LA as well as sharing our Torah online and in person with high school faculties across the country.

We’re doing all this because we believe that halakhic leadership does not develop in a cultural vacuum, and halakhic leaders do not flourish without like-minded peers, wise mentors, and supportive communities. So if we want our alumni and alumnae to succeed, we need to make sure they have those peers, mentors, and communities.

We also know that there is much more to be done to reach our five-year dreams. We won’t find enough women capable of learning Torah at the highest level unless women are consistently challenged to the utmost at every level of their Torah education. So if we want the change our program embodies, we need to improve high school Torah education, challenge gap year programs to demand more, and ensure that women keep learning intensely during their college years.

Supporting the Center for Modern Torah Leadership’s growth is an investment in the development of Torah, Torah leaders, and Torah communities that recognize, accept, and make us more capable of fulfilling the infinite responsibility that the Jewish people accepted at Sinai. If you resonate with this mission, please donate generously.

Bivrakhah v’hakarat hatov,

Rabbi Aryeh Klapper, Dean

P.S. Please consider donating $1800 to sponsor a Summer Beit Midrash Fellowship, $2500 to sponsor a Senior Fellowship, or contact us with specific dedication ideas. We also welcome multi-year pledges.  Donations are accepted online via Paypal or can be mailed, and are fully tax-deductible.

Where are they now?

SBM alumni currently serve as:

                    director of the Nishmat Yoetzet Halakhah program in America;

                    as directors of Tikvah Foundation programs for high school students in America and for post—high school students in Israel;

                    as rabbis of prominent congregations such as ASBI in Chicago and WSIS in New York;

                    as Orthodox campus rabbi at Yale Hillel, Senior Educator at Berkeley Hillel, and Director of Southern California Jewish Student Services;

                    as faculty at Yeshiva College, Drisha Institute, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Northwestern University Yeshivat HaKotel. Yeshivat Har Etzion, Mikhlelet Emunah v’Omanut, Migdal Oz, and many others

                    as faculty and administration at schools such as  Maayanot, SAR, Kohelet, Maimonides, Frankel Academy, and Yavneh Academy

                    as directors of community education programs; as director of a rabbinic professional development program; as synagogue presidents; and much more


SBM alumni have also been instrumental in the founding of institutions such as Uri L’Tzedek and The Aspen Center for Social Values

New Blog
We've started a blog to feature series of articles. The first series is about the Agunot Dilemma. You can find it here at

2013 Summer Beit Midrash

Our latest group of fellows at the Young Israel of Sharon wrapped up their investigation of the topic "Can you be sure you're Jewish if you can't prove it halakhically?" Explorations of the religious experience, obligations, and rights generated by a subjectively compelling and objectively possible Jewish identity. To meet them, go hereThe she'elah that they answered can be found here.

Rabbi Klapper has concluded his series of public shiurim for this summer. This year's topic is "What Does the Beit Din Do?" The series can be viewed here on YouTube.



(For all the latest alumni news, please go to our Alumni page here)

Now on the Web

The Moral Costs of Jewish Education--re-featured on Jewish Ideas Daily; and an article reflecting this in the Jewish Chronicle,  The Moral Case for Reforming the Jewish Education Model 

The Center for Modern Torah Leadership Youtube channel--including videos with Rav David Bigman, Rabbi Hayyim Angel, Rav David Stav, Rabbi Yitzchak Blau, and others

What Judaism Has to Say about Drones--Tablet Magazine


Now on the website

The 2012 Aryeh Klapper Reader (PDF file)

The 2012 Aryeh Klapper Reader (Word, with hyperlinks)

Acharayut Ketuvah Journal has been published
Thanks to the hard work of editor Rachael Schultz, the CMTL’s Journal, Acharayut Ketuvah, is here. This inaugural issue includes a collection of responsa and articles on Halakhah and Journalism written by the Fellows and Faculty of the Center for Modern Torah Leadership’s 2009 Summer Beit Midrash. The journal will prove to be an exemplar of the Center’s work toward developing creative, morally accountable and responsible Talmud Torah.

Some of the articles are:
Introduction, Rabbi Aryeh Klapper
Ethics of Investigative Journalism, Binyamin Appelbaum
Reflections on Being an Orthodox Jewish Journalist, Shira Schoenberg
Is Lashon Hara Permitted between Close Friends and Spouses? Rabbi Howard Jachter
The Question (Sh’eilah), Rabbi Aryeh Klapper
The Sh’eilah from the Perspective of Secular Journalism Ethics, Mark Jurkowitz
Responsa in English and Hebrew by the fellows and Rabbi Klapper
Index of Jewish Sources and Glossary

Please contact us at to obtain a copy.

Elsewhere on the web
Rabbi Klapper's article "Taking Responsibility for Torah (Why study Talmud?)" can be found in the latest edition of Milin Havivin,available for download here

Rabbi Klapper's special essay on Tzeniut and Beit Shemesh can also be found here on Text & Texture, and here on the New Israel Fund.
Find all of Rabbi Klapper's articles on the Jewish Values Online website here.
Find all of Rabbi Klapper's articles on Text & Texture website here.

"Like" us on our page on Facebook, view photos from the latest events, and join in the conversation.