Neve Yerushalayim

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Neve Yerushalayim
נוה ירושלים
Neve Yerushalayim.jpg
1 Beit Yitzchok St.

School typeCollege
Religious affiliation(s)Haredi Judaism
Established1970 (1970)
FounderRabbi Dovid Refson
DeanRabbi Dovid Refson
Campus size6-acre (2.4 ha)
Budget$7 million[1]

Neve Yerushalayim (Hebrew: נוה ירושלים‬) is the oldest and largest college for Jewish women in the world.[1][2] Founded in 1970 to educate baalot teshuva (female returnees to Orthodox Judaism) in the why and how of living an Orthodox Jewish life, Neve has a student body of 900 and over 35,000 alumni. Its campus in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem is also home to 11 schools and seminaries for post-high school, undergraduate, and graduate students from religious backgrounds.


Neve was founded in 1970[3] by Rabbi Dovid Refson, the British-born alumnus of the Gateshead Yeshiva and Yeshivas Knesses Chizkiyahu. After his marriage, he entered the kollel at the Harry Fischel Institute in Jerusalem and began delivering shiurim to American students. Deciding to open his own yeshiva, he placed an advertisement in The Jerusalem Post and was surprised when three young women showed up. “I thought yeshivah meant for boys, but apparently, in some places, yeshivah can mean a girls' school as well”, he said. The staff "adapted" to the new reality, and Neve was born. Soon after, Rabbi Moshe Chalkowski came on board as principal.[1]

Students began arriving at the school on the recommendation of Rabbi Shlomo Freifeld, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, and the Chabad movement.[1] The school, then located in the Bayit Vegan neighborhood of Jerusalem, expanded in the 1970s with a Hebrew division, a preparatory school, and the one-year Shalhevet program.[1] In its early years, Neve was considered an unofficial sister school to the Ohr Somayach yeshiva for baal teshuva men in Jerusalem.[3][4]

In the 1980s, Neve added a French division and the Machon Devorah seminary.[1] The latter seminary has since been joined on campus by other seminaries designed for post-high-school women from religious backgrounds (see list below).[1] According to Refson, the idea of adding seminaries to the baalot teshuvah campus was meant to augment the girls' experience of Judaism, "creating a culture where kashrus, Shabbos and tzniyus are taken for granted". [1]


Neve offers courses for beginner through advanced levels.[2] From the start, instructors focused on the practical applications of Jewish law.[3] Subjects include kashrut, Family purity, and the laws of Shabbat and Jewish holidays. The curriculum also includes Tanakh and Jewish literature, aside from Talmud.[3]

Student body[edit]

The English-speaking student body at Neve hails from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, South Africa, and Australia.[5] As of 2014, Neve maintains a student body of 900 and has over 35,000 alumni.[1] The college is also a drop-in site for North American and South American kiruv groups, and summer visits by college students, Birthright groups, and visiting professionals.


Neve acquired its 6-acre (2.4 ha) campus in Har Nof with significant funding from the Committee for Aid and Development Abroad chaired by United States Senator Daniel Inouye. The main building and two dormitories opened in 1987. As of 2016, the campus includes 12 academic buildings and eight dormitories, plus an auditorium, amphitheater, and synagogue.[6] The Family Institute at Neve Yerushalayim, a family counseling clinic staffed by over 60 religious therapists, sees more than 400 clients monthly.[1]



  • Rabbi Dovid Refson, founder and dean
  • Rabbi Moshe Chalkowski, founding principal
  • Rabbi Avraham Edelstein, director of education
  • Chaya Levine, dean of students
  • Rabbi Yona Aryeh Refson, chief operating officer


Teachers at Neve have become noted authors, speakers, and academics in the Orthodox world.[1] They include:

Notable alumni[edit]

Campus overview[edit]


  • Neve School of General Jewish Studies – targets English-speaking students
  • Neve Nerlitz – designed for French-speaking students.
  • Neve Shoshana – mainly for Hebrew speaking students residing in Israel.

High schools[edit]

  • Seminar Lapidot

Post high-school programs[edit]

  • Bnos Avigail
  • Bnos Chava
  • Bnos Sarah – one-year teacher training program with advanced academic curriculum in Limudei Kodesh for graduates of Bais Yaakov high schools
  • Midreshet Tehillah (founded in 2002) – focuses on text-based learning of Tanakh, halakha, and Jewish philosophy

Post-seminary programs[edit]

  • Maalot Yerushalayim (founded 1984) – offers programs of advanced Judaic studies and courses in various academic areas, with credits toward a B.A. degree from Thomas Edison State University
  • Rinat Tzipporah
  • Center for Foreign Studies

Post-graduate programs[edit]

  • The Family Institute



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Besser 2014, pp. 42-51.
  2. ^ a b Aiken 2009, p. 363.
  3. ^ a b c d Kaplan 2009, p. 295.
  4. ^ Teller 1990, p. 192.
  5. ^ Becher 2005, pp. 499-500.
  6. ^ "Our Campus". Neve Yerushalayim. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  7. ^ Spevack, Violet (28 May 2004). "Ahuvah Gray's spiritual journey to Judaism". Cleveland Jewish News. Retrieved 1 January 2016. (Subscription required (help)).
  8. ^ "Faculty". Aish Journeys. Retrieved 17 January 2016.