BIMA at Brandeis University

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BIMA at Brandeis University
BIMA at Brandeis.jpg
Type Private
Established 2004 by Rabbi Daniel Lehmann
Director Rabbi Charlie Schwartz
Students Approximately 100
Location Brandeis University
Waltham, MA, United States

BIMA at Brandeis University is a Jewish artistic summer program for high school students, based at Brandeis University. BIMA offers courses in Dance, Instrumental and Choral music, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing.


BIMA was founded by Rabbi Daniel Lehmann.[1] Lehmann, raised as a conservative Jew and violinist, created BIMA because no summer programs allowed him to combine those two interests.

Planning for BIMA started in 2002. The program was launched in 2004 as a tenant at Williams College, where it remained for three years, under the original name "Berkshire Institute for Music and Arts". Despite its initial success, administrators soon began to have problems financing the program at Williams College. They approached Brandeis University, which was already housing another selective Jewish-related program called Genesis. In 2007, BIMA moved to Brandeis and remained there since.[2]

"Because we're able to offer a high-quality, small-private-school environment, people are looking at us seriously," comments Lehmann. "We have a nice campus and it's attractive no matter what your Jewish commitment, it becomes an entry point for people who want something with Jewish roots."[3]


BIMA participants specialize in one of several offered artistic pursuits. Participants are required to have previous experience, but mastery is not expected. The main criterion are creativity, a passion for their specialty, a desire to grow as artists, as well as an openness to exploring their Jewish faith. While studying art seriously, participants also build on their Jewish knowledge and identity. A key trait of BIMA is the cultural, geographical, and ideological diversity of the various participants. Participants range from orthodox to atheist in faith, and have geographical backgrounds from North America (primarily the United States), but also Europe, Israel, South America and Russia (made possible by a special grant).

In addition to their majors, participants choose electives of an art form as part of the Artists Beit Midrash. The electives may be different or the same than the one the participants choose as their major. In 2014, some electives offered were: film, songwriting, visual art, and dance.

The time spent in BIMA is split up into scheduled weekdays, usually beginning with courses taught by professionals in their respective fields. The schedule also includes various educational workshops, concerts and time for students to engage in discussions with each other all while developing close friendships. Friday nights and Saturdays involve a celebration of Shabbat during which the participants come together and create a community making the experience special for everyone.

Funding for BIMA comes from the tuition paid by students and fund raising efforts. Donations are also accepted from individuals, and various organizations.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cohen, Debra Nussbaum. "Back to School". JW Magazine. Retrieved 2009-07-13. [dead link]
  2. ^ Root, Jeff (2008-11-14). "A Pluralistic Jewish Stance". Bronfman Youth Fellowships Alumni. Retrieved 2009-07-10. 
  3. ^ "BIMA summer arts program for teens relocates to Brandeis campus". Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle. 2007-01-19. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2009-07-10. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°21′59.24″N 71°15′31.12″W / 42.3664556°N 71.2586444°W / 42.3664556; -71.2586444