Chabad Lubavitch Girls' Seminary
Established in 1977, the Machon Alte Seminary was the first of its kind as the only Chabad-Lubavitch seminary for women in Israel. The purpose of the seminary is to provide Jewish women a full-time academic program where they might find and feed their spirit. Machon Alte is located in a part of the ancient holy city of Safed where peace and contemplation are easy to come by.
The director of the seminary, Rabbi Joseph Rosenfeld states that over the past 20 years, almost 3000 young adult Jewish women have attended classes at Machon Alte. Students have come from countries such as America, Canada, Russia, Israel, Europe, Central and South America, South Africa, and Australia. The students range in age from 18-32.
The curriculum at Machon Alte stresses the mystical side of the Torah and includes discussions of classic Chassidic thought, along with some delving into the mysteries of the relationship between God and man. The majority of the students at Machon Alte have little or no background in Judaism or in Judaic studies. Courses offered include Jewish law, the bible, prophets, prayer and meditation, Chassidut (Chassidic philosophy), and Hebrew.
Classes are conducted in three languages: English, Hebrew, and Russian. The seminary is willing to accommodate students fluent in other languages by offering courses in their mother tongues. The English and Hebrew programs are given at both the beginner and the advanced levels, while the Russian program is geared in the main toward the beginning student. Once completing the Russian program, the Russian students are mainstreamed into the more advanced Hebrew program.
Private tutoring is an option and students learn in chevrusa (sometimes pronounced: chevruta) style, in groups of two, which fosters an air of shared discovery and friendly scholarship. Those who wish to improve their Hebrew language skills can take Hebrew lessons in the popular immersion method known as the Ulpan.
During the week, three square meals are offered to the Machon Alte students. On the Jewish Sabbath and holidays, the students are hosted by families throughout Israel. Sometimes, the students gather together for a Sabbath to hold what is known as a Shabbaton, or a group Sabbath. Shabbatonim (plural) are held at Machon Alte, in Jerusalem, or in Hebron.
The school claims that most colleges and universities accept Machon Alte's credits, but recommends students check with a given institution about its policy. Machon Alte's study year is divided into three semesters and a summer program is offered as well, though students may enroll at any point of the year. The school doesn't turn away prospective students for lack of funds, but requests such students to seek help from their home communities if at all possible. Students enrolling in the school for a minimum of 2 months are eligible for inexpensive medical coverage, which is mandatory.
Dormitory facilities are located within an historic building which was once a hotel. There are no more than two students per room and rooms are furnished in full. Many of the rooms have private bathroom and shower facilities.