Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Looking to Learn Some Torah?

Few orthodox institutions allow conversion candidates to become students. However, one organization in New York City has a history of being conversion-friendly: the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education. It is not explicitly an orthodox institution, so admission is open to Jews and conversion candidates from any background. However, the teaching is "traditional" and in accordance with orthodox views (but open to questions and dissent should you want to share it). Of course, it teaches women Gemara and other rabbinic texts, so that makes it a radical institution in America. Most of its programs are women-only, but some programs are open to men.

There are three summer programs, most primarily aimed at college-aged people. You can find out more at their Summer Programs page. If you are comfortable with the Hebrew alphabet, there is likely something for you to study this summer at Drisha! There is also an introductory Biblical Hebrew class offered over the summer and in the fall semester. In six months at Drisha, I went from the aleph bet to studying Gemara, so they can really work wonders!

If you're looking for Talmud study next fall, Drisha is creating a (co-ed?) morning Gemara program. It is not advertised on their website, but they plan to offer it 3 or 4 mornings a week 9am-noon. The days and levels will depend on who signs up, so don't be afraid to apply if you've never studied Gemara before! As I understand it, tuition will be waived for those who commit to regular attendance. If you're interested, please email Ariella Newberger at!

In addition, there are other classes that are great for relative beginners, like Beginner's Pashanut (studying commentaries on Biblical text). The schedule and class offerings change each semester, so you should check out the finalized offerings next month.

What do YOU want to learn?

1 comment:

  1. For those wishing to be in Israel, yeshivat Machon Meir not only accepts conversion candidates, but it also interfaces with the Rabbinate and can streamline the conversion process. Its sister midrasha, Machon Ora, is similar.

    A conversion would probably take too long to merely take a summer trip, but if anyone has been looking to do a year in Israel and doesn't want to wait until after their conversion is finished in America for the chance, this might be an option.