215.438.6108 Box 1 icmidrash@verizon.net

History of the Institute for Contemporary Midrash


1995-1997 – The Formative Stages

  • Spring 1995 – ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal (ALEPH) sponsored an experimental 3-weekend Bibliodrama training by Peter Pitzele for a dozen participants in Philadelphia.
  • Summer 1996 – Rivkah Walton conceived of and designed a week-long Bibliodrama Training Institute that was sponsored and hosted by Elat Chayyim, and subsidized with discretionary funding from the Nathan Cummings Foundation. Peter Pitzele demonstrated techniques; four associates supervised practicum groups.
  • Fall 1996 – Rivkah Walton created the Institute for Contemporary Midrash (ICM), to include visual, performing, and literary arts, and was invited to submit a joint three-year grant proposal to the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation.
  • Spring 1997 – With Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi’s encouragement, the ALEPH Board committed to serve as the non-profit fiscal sponsor of ICM.

1997-2001 – Program and Publishing Highlights

An ICM Project Executive Board and an Advisory Board were created. ICM received over $300,000 in foundation funding and created a membership/journal-subscriber base. Using these funds, combined with program fees, ICM  –

  • Offered 5 week-long multi-disciplinary subsidized summer training programs, housed variously at Elat Chayyim Retreat Renter, Isabella Friedman Retreat Center, and Bryn Mawr College.
  • Offered 3 week-long Bibliodrama trainings for Christian clergy and seminarians at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC.
  • Published eight issues of “Living Text: The Journal of Contemporary Midrash,” with numerous individual and institutional subscribers (including, notably, the New York Public Library).
  • Held “The Future of Midrash: A Scholars and Artists Convocation,” an innovative day-long program hosted by HUC-JIR in New York in 1999, which brought recognition to Contemporary Midrash as a multi-disciplinary field.
  • Sponsored courses in contemporary midrash at ALEPH’s biennial week-long Kallah gatherings.
  • Created a grant proposal template that communities can easily use to tap into local foundation funding to bring training to their cities.
  • Served as a resource and referral service for individuals seeking information about Contemporary Midrash, and communities seeking artists-in-residence.

2002 – Present

New in 2015-16!


Currently Anticipated ICM Program Changes ICM is currently negotiating with an institution of higher learning whose mission is aligned with ICM’s, to assume responsibility for ICM’s programming. We anticipate that this will include –

  • a searchable international online repository for contemporary midrashim as pdfs, jpgs, audio clips and video links;
  • digitization and electronic sale of the eight back issues of “Living Text” in a single e-volume;
  • non-residential training programs at the intersection of the arts, midrash and liturgy.

Please direct inquiries to ICM Director Rivkah Walton at icmidrash@verizon.net. Thank you!