An expansive new academic year at Nishmat has begun. As a steady stream of students checked into their dorm rooms just a few short weeks ago, the Beit Midrash began buzzing with young women eagerly delving into the depths of Jewish texts. Nishmat's student body has expanded significantly with 30% more U.S. post-high school students in Shana B'Aretz, 50% more Israeli Educators for the Next Generation, and 20% more Israelis preparing for college in Nishmat Ethiopian Women. New and returning students alike are in awe of Nishmat's expanded campus—a palace of women's Torah learning, ready for the almost 200 students in Nishmat's myriad of programs. A faculty member commented that “the expansion is quantum leap in the facility of Nishmat’s campus.” While the final details of construction continue, Nishmat is thrilled make use of newly constructed office and apartment space, an elevator, two extra floors of vitally needed classroom space, a dining hall suitable for the entire student body and faculty and a beautiful rooftop lounge overlooking Jerusalem, a future site of celebrations for our students and alumnae.
At the opening assembly, students were welcomed as important members of the Nishmat family. Rabbi Da’avid Sperling, newly appointed Rosh Beit Midrash, read a letter from Rav Kook to his then teenage son learning in Israel, Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook to illustrate how just as Rav Kook was concerned about the placement of his son's bed in the dormitory—that it shouldn't be too close to the window lest he catch cold, the staff at Nishmat are concerned about every detail of our students’ welfare. Extracurricular coordinator Avital Reich discussed the myriad of volunteer “chesed” opportunities in the Pat neighborhood such as tutoring children, assisting the elderly, organizing a children’s story hour, helping to run the bridal gown free loan, and others. Rabbanit Henkin concluded the assembly by giving a powerful shiur (lecture) discussing the reasons we study Torah, taken directly from her class notes as a student of Rav Soleveitchik in college. She discussed that we learn Torah to acquire information and to connect with the shechina (divine presence). Rabbanit Henkin stressed that what holds these points together is how much we strive to study and the consistency with which we study. Nishmat looks forward to a year of high-level women's Torah study in its bustling Beit Midrash.