The JEWEL (Jewish Exploration and Learning) Project

Modern life today is complicated and often leaves us searching for answers. What if you could help find those answers in Jewish writings that are thousands of years old?


Many of the issues we face today are not unique to our times. In fact, Jews throughout history have experienced similar problems to the ones we face in our modern world. What can we learn from them? The TZAHAR-Palm Beach Research Center for Judaism Based Social Sciences has created a unique opportunity to connect our Jewish past to our present-day Jewish lives. The JEWEL Project is a new initiative whereby community members have the opportunity to write an opinion article about a modern-day social science issue through a Jewish lens. Examples include Jewish migration and our current immigration policies, the role of Jewish memory and gender roles. We encourage you to use all the Jewish texts at your disposal including the Torah, Midrash, Mishnah and any other Jewish religious text you can find.


You are invited to offer your unique perspective and insight into Jewish history.

Through our innovative program, we are asking people in the Palm Beaches and the communities of Tzfat, Hatzor HaGlilit, Rosh Pina (TZAHAR region in Israel) to submit their articles for an opportunity to get your voice heard, get published in an online research journal, to present your ideas to the community through an online lecture and to win a $500 prize. During 2021-2022, six article ideas will be chosen and the winners will be asked to write a 1200-1500 word opinion article within the six-week time period.


How it Works:

  • Submit your idea for a topic worth exploring by Monday, February 28. Topics must relate to an aspect of the modern world in relation to sacred Jewish texts. For example, past submissions have included – What’s more important: Action or Learning?, Social media and Jewish law.
  • Article ideas can be submitted to Shira Rav Or at researchjbss@gmail.com and must include the following: article topic/idea and a short paragraph explanation which outlines what will be discussed in the article, theoretical background, rationale and how the topic being presented is new and innovative. Ideas will be chosen based on the importance of what is being written, originality, does it answer the goals of the center, coherent, quality of writing in proposal, quality of connection between Judaism and modern ideas.
  • The Research Center committee will approve six submissions. Applicant names will be removed from the documents so that committee consideration is anonymous. The approved submissions will be given six weeks to write and complete their articles which should be between 1200-1500 words.
  • The approved articles will be published on our website, in a digital journal and the winners will be asked to give a presentation via Zoom to the community about their topic.

This is a project of the TZAHAR – Palm Beach Research Center for Judaism Based Social Sciences, a program of the partnership between Israel’s TZAHAR region and the Palm Beaches. Since 1995, the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County has strived to create a partnership with the TZAHAR region in Israel that connects ideas and people who are an ocean away from each other – effectively creating a living bridge between the two communities.

TZAHAR – Palm Beach Research Center for Judaism-Based Social Sciences

Winning Opinion Articles 2021-22


Title: “Which is Greater: Learning or Action? Motivations and Goals of Life-long Learning”

Submitted by: Dr. Tova Sacher

Dr. Tova Sacher, was born in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Sacher completed her Law Degree at Bar Ilan University and worked as a lawyer before pursuing a career in Jewish Education. She has a Master’s degree in Jewish Education from Hebrew University and a Doctorate from the University of Haifa in Jewish History on the topic of Midrash Tanhuma in the  Cairo Genizah (A large collection of Jewish manuscripts and documents found in a Cairo Synagogue). Dr. Sacher is a Research Fellow at the Centre  for Interdisciplinary Research of the Cairo Genizah, University of Haifa.

Tova has worked for over 15 years in informal and adult education facilitating and lecturing on a wide range of Jewish topics for audiences from a variety of backgrounds. Tova is the proud mother of eight children and an even prouder grandmother. She lives with her family in Moreshet a small community in the Galilee.


Title: “Leaving Sin: A deeper understanding of the essential stage in rehabilitation according to Maimonides’ laws of repentance”

Submitted by: Na’ama Grossbaum

Na’ama Grossbaum completed her B.A. with honors in the two-discipline degree in Psychology and  Criminology at The Max Stern Yezreel Valley College (YVC). Na’ama is currently studying towards an M.A. in Clinical Criminology at Bar Ilan University. Na’ama is working as a teaching assistant in Statistics, Methodology, Cognitive Psychology and The Physiological Basis of Behavior at YVC. Her experience includes working with a wide variety of children and youth, from normative populations to at-risk and out-of-home placements. She has worked as a practitioner at the unique rehabilitation center, Harmony Village in Sdot Yam, at the rehabilitation center of the Abarbanel Mental Health Medical Center and is now beginning to work at Saleet a hostel for women in prostitution.

Na’ama tries to refrain from definitions, but when necessary – she is firstly spiritual and then religious. She loves to learn, research, raise doubts and questions. Na’ama spends her time trying to focus on self-connection and positive Jewish philosophy and psychology through writing, art, meditation and spiritual workshops.


Title: “Incitement in Torah”

Submitted by: Oded Levin

Oded Levin is named after the prophet Oded – no, you don’t know him, he’s buried somewhere in the dusty pages of the book of Chronicles 2. Oded is a freelance language and content editor and a Hebrew-English translator, primarily in the fields he knows best: the humanities in general and Jewish studies in particular. His work combines two great passions of his: a love of words and a love of learning and knowledge.

Oded developed his knowledge of religion and texts from his distinguished teachers at the Otniel Yeshiva and Herzog College while studying for a B.Ed. in Jewish Oral Law. Today, Oded does his best to continue learning, whether on his own, with a study partner, or from the fascinating material he encounters at work.

Oded lives in Ovnat, a tiny town by the Dead Sea, and do his best to see the sunrise over the sea every morning. He is married to Sarah, the love of his  life, and father to Reishit and Adin.


Title: “For the sake of unifying” – Unification in the Zohar as a Model for a Psychic Means of Coping with Media-Induced Distractions

Submitted by: Dr. Ayelet Naeh

Dr. Ayelet Naeh is a clinical psychologist, a researcher and lecturer in the fields of Hasidism and  Kabbalah, psychology and psychoanalytic theories, and a part of the research group of the Rabbi Levi Yitchak of Berdichev Chair of Hasidic Studies, Bar Ilan University.

Dr. Naeh is also a lecturer at the dynamic psychotherapy training program of the Hebrew University Psychological Service, and a doctoral Instructor at the Shalom Hartmann Institute’s “Maskilot Program”.