The Program

BIMA’s Program
BIMA offers three core areas of artistic study: music (jazz/ chamber/choral), painting or creative writing. The program includes intensive time each day during which participants focus on the arts discipline of their choice. Participants have the opportunity to develop techniques, hone skills, enhance their ability to express themselves in their chosen medium, and collaborate artistically with other participants. In addition, participants choose from a range of elective offerings. In the time allocated for electives, participants explore new concepts, engage in another medium, or create artistic collaborations.

The entire BIMA community comes together regularly for Jewish text study and experiential learning. Participants explore texts and cultural resources that provide a window into Jewish perspectives on themes such as beauty and creativity. BIMA serves strictly kosher food, offers daily prayer options, and creates weekly communal Shabbat experiences.

Daily athletic activities are offered as well as weekly outdoor expeditions to recreational areas for hiking, boating and swimming.

BIMA, the Berkshire Institute for Music and Arts, is a summer arts program for Jewish teenagers. Our mission is to guide students as they develop their imaginative and artistic faculties and explore the relevance of Jewish tradition to students’ lives. BIMA is committed to the value of a serious and dynamic encounter between artistic expression and Jewish life. We aspire to serve as both a nurturing community and a creative catalyst for this interaction.

BIMA cultivates a vibrant, pluralistic environment for participants to hone their artistic skills, to deepen their Jewish knowledge, and to ask questions about the intersection of their identity as Jews and young people committed to pursuing the arts.

BIMA also encourages Jewish teenagers to see themselves as active participants in a vital Jewish culture, and promotes a reinvigoration of creative expression and artistic imagination within Jewish religious and communal life.

We are guided in this endeavor by three central commitments:

  1. Artistic Expression
    BIMA takes seriously the growth and education of young artists. Focusing on music, painting, and creative writing, the BIMA program emphasizes artistic expression, self-reflection and collaboration. Located at Williams College in Williamstown, MA, BIMA takes advantage of the rich cultural offerings of the Berkshires region, exposing participants to the highest levels of artistic achievement in contemporary American life.

  2. Jewish Learning
    Jewish creativity depends upon Jewish education—education that challenges the mind and speaks to the heart. The BIMA program includes a range of opportunities for Jewish learning that is substantive, passionate, and engaging. BIMA explores the arts as a significant arena for dialogue and interaction between Israeli and Diaspora Jewish culture.

  3. Pluralism
    We believe that interaction among Jews of diverse backgrounds enhances Jewish continuity and creativity, and that exchanges among artists of different disciplines enrich artistic growth. Our approach to both Jewish and artistic education at BIMA is pluralistic, with an emphasis placed on the dignity of individual identity and expression, a discourse of mutual sensitivity and respect, and a spirit of openness and friendship within a diverse community.

BIMA is being developed through a collaborative partnership between Gann Academy–The New Jewish High School of Greater Boston and the Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel (BYFI).

Gann Academy—The New Jewish High School, founded in 1997, has an international reputation as an innovator of Jewish pluralistic high school education. Since its inception, it has had a strong commitment to arts education and the integral role of the arts in the overall school curriculum.

BYFI has been a premier educational program for Jewish high school students for the past eighteen years. A five and a half week program in Israel, with an active and extensive Jewish community, BYFI has fostered a new generation of Jewish leaders committed to understanding the complex issues facing the Jewish people and Israel, Jewish pluralism, dialogue, and text study. BYFI alumni and educators work together with lay and professional leaders from the Gann Academy to shape BIMA’s vision, mission, and educational philosophy.

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