A Wall in Its Midst  

Breaking stigmas and building bridges
between Haredi
(ultra-Orthodox) and non-Haredi
student populations in Israel
and providing Haredi students with the help
they need to succeed in academia.

About The Project

Beliba Choma” (meaning “A Wall in its Midst”) is an innovative academic program, founded in 2012, that matches ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) students with non-ultra-Orthodox (religious/secular) students into study pairs who meet on a weekly basis. In the first part of the meeting the non-ultra-Orthodox provides academic assistance to the ultra-Orthodox student in various subjects including English, Math and Science. In the second part the ultra-Orthodox student leads them in a Jewish text study session.

 

The program works to connect Jewish students from different denominations, to help ultra-Orthodox students succeed in academic studies and to strengthen the students’ shared Jewish identity. 

 

The rift between the ultra-Orthodox community and general society is one of the most contentious social issues in Israel. In recent years, the ultra-Orthodox community has undergone significant change processes resulting from population growth and other social causes. As part of the changes, ultra-Orthodox young men and women began to apply for academic studies in various professions in order to gain higher quality employment and find the way to integrate as part of Israeli society while retaining their unique group identity.

 

Beliba Choma was born out of the understanding that ultra-Orthodox students have an inherent difficulty in integrating into higher education in Israel, where ultra-Orthodox men currently have a dropout rate of 60% in the first year of university. 


 

The program has shown outstanding results with regards to lowering the number of dropouts among ultra-Orthodox students, and generated meaningful personal connections between ultra-Orthodox and non- ultra-Orthodox students. The over 1,700 alumni of the program are proof that it is possible to create change in Israeli society.

How and why did we start Beliba Choma?

Beliba Choma was born in late 2010, in the midst of the struggle against the "Law of Avrachim" in Israel Which was a breaking point between ultra-Orthodox and secular. A group of secular and ultra-Orthodox activists decided to set up the project


Beliba Choma provides support to the rising trend among the ultra-Orthodox population to integrate into higher education institutions - more than 13,000 ultra-Orthodox students attend universities and colleges in Israel.

We believe that ultra-Orthodox, secular, and religious young people can build a foundation for better society together through shared work, shared learning, personal recognition, and removal of stigmatization. In our opinion, this is the only way to secure the future of the State of Israel.

Program Structure

The program matches ultra-Orthodox and non-ultra-Orthodox students into study pairs.

Pair meetings

Each pair meets once a week for 3-4 hours. For the first two hours the non-ultra-Orthodox student tutors the ultra-Orthodox student in core subjects (such as English, math, science, etc.), and in the remaining time the pair learns a Jewish text of their choice together, using it as the basis for discussion, the exchange of ideas, and understanding.

 

This interaction enables the two students to get to know each other on a deeper level, leading to a lowering of borders and negative stigmas and even results in true friendships.

Group events

In addition, all the program participants meet together several times a year for joint activities. The purpose of these gatherings is to enable the participants to meet each other, learn more about Israeli society, discuss issues facing the ultra-Orthodox and secular worlds, and create a sense of connection.

 

alumni network

After finishing the program, participants can join the alumni network. Alumni make personal connections and grow their networking circle, are exposed to various opportunities and receive assistance from Landmarks staff in transitioning into the world of employment.

In addition, alumni serve as the spokespeople of the program among their communities.

Future Plans:


• Expanding the program’s scope and distribution: We plan to increase the number of participants over the next two years and reach the goal of creating at least 600 study pairs each year.
 
• Expansion to other areas of the country: Haifa, Ashdod, Safed and other areas
 
• Meeting the target of less than 10% dropout rate among ultra-Orthodox students participating in the project.

• Personal accompaniment and providing professional tools for program alumni during their integration into the employment market.

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