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Turning to Talmud, young Israelis find a 'Game of Thrones'

The secular yeshiva offers young Israelis the opportunity to search and interpret Judaism and tradition, while defining a Jewish secular identity.
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man studies at a Yeshiva, or Jewish seminary, in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighbourhood May 24, 2012. The ultra-Orthodox Jews have gone from being a tiny minority in Israel's mostly secular society to its fastest-growing sector, now about 10 percent of the 7.8 million population. They are exempt from military duty in Israel but draft deferments and state subsidies for the ultra-Orthodox have become a divisive political issue in Israel, where the government must decide a new law by Au
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The European Cup basketball finals ended with Maccabi Tel Aviv’s incredible victory. But the wave of euphoria that swept the country skipped over the 15 students of the Secular Yeshiva in Jerusalem. These friendly young people, who spend four months living in dormitory conditions while they learn about Judaism and Israeli culture, preferred to spend that exciting May 18 evening focusing on their Jewish traditional Lag Ba’Omer feast bonfire and engaging in a critical, interpretive examination of the holiday’s sources.

“I was actually being updated on the score every so often,” says Ariel Levinson, one of the program’s three founders, “and the students kept giving me strange looks. Not one of them was interested in the game.”

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