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Where can I go to study Judaism fulltime? Part-time?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht

  

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It’s good you’re asking that question. Because the truth is—studying Judaism is an ongoing process of questions and answers. You don’t go somewhere to study Judaism and then graduate. You never graduate. You always keep on learning. Even the greatest rabbis study regularly every day. And you know what? They learn something new every time they do.

Essentially then, the only difference between yeshivah and personal study is the level. In yeshivah, you’ll discover the building blocks of Judaism, and once you’re equipped to study on your own, you’re set for the rest of your life. You’ve got the tools.

First let’s talk about part time. Jewish learning is 20% content, 80% experience. You need to get up and go to some real classes with real humanoids. Go to Chabad.org. There you will find your nearest Chabad center, where you can attend regular classes on all things Jewish from Aleph-Beit to Yiddish. Many Chabad centers offer Lunch ’n’ Learn programs, which give you great food for mind and body on your lunch break at a corporate facility near you. Better yet, ask the Chabad rabbi to study with you one-on-one, whatever subject you wish to explore. He will be most accommodating.

About full-time, here goes. Firstly, a select group of institutions are geared exclusively for Jewish women. These include the famed Bais Chana of Minnesota, headed by the legendary Rabbi Manis Friedman (check out http://www.baischana.org/ for more info); Machon Chana of Brooklyn (www.machonchana.org), another flagship women’s school; and for the Jerusalem experience, Mayanot’s Women’s Division (see www.mayanot.edu/women).

For men, there is Yeshivah Hadar Hatorah (Hadarhatorah.org), the world’s first yeshivah for latecomers to Judaism (founded 1965). It is famed for its popular YeshivaCation program, which immerses participants of all ages and backgrounds in an intensive study environment for a week, though you may stay for any length of time. For more information, contact Rabbi Yaakov Silberstein at 718-735-0250 or hadarh@ix.netcom.com.

If you’re not into the big city, and would rather be surrounded by the woods and raccoons of the Garden State of America, there is also the Rabbinical College of America’s Tiferes Bachurim program, located in suburban Morristown, New Jersey. This program, in operation since 1976, is geared to Jews of all backgrounds and may be attended for any length of time. The RCA also runs a kollel, or Jewish school for married men, providing them with a weekly stipend and a rustic, spacious private home on secluded property—so you just might want to bring the whole family! Call 973-267-8005 for more information—or go to their website http://www.rca.edu/templates/rca/article.asp?AID=303790.

And if you’d like to do the Israel thing for a few months or a year, make your way to the Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem’s yeshivah for thoughtful individuals such as yourself. Visit www.mayanot.edu for more info.

Be aware that all types of careerists, professionals, students, wanderers, seekers, skeptics and scientists, and any combination thereof, of all ages, attend these schools, so you should find someone there just like you when you finally walk through those front doors.

Judaism lessons are also available on a growing number of websites. For example:

Chabad.org—dating back to 1991, the first Jewish outreach website is still loaded with literature; and updated with lots of audio and video classes.

For Judaism in a nutshell, or should I say paperback, read "Judaism: Key Facts" available through Askmoses.com

Good luck, and never forget—keep on studying!

TAGS: yeshiva, yeshivah

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Torah » Education

Chabad
Chabad, an acronym for Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding, is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.
Jerusalem
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.
Yiddish
Language closely related to German commonly spoken by European Jews.