The academic components of Shalem consist of Torah studies (Gemara, Tanach, Halacha Jewish philosophy and Machshevet Yisrael). In addition there are special advanced Judaic studies such as Mysticism, Jewish History and Zionist Thought. All studies are conducted under the supervision of Rav Yossela Ote, the Rosh Tochnit, while the Hebrew Ulpan is under the supervision of Orit Segal, director of ther Hebrew ulpan of the general Year Course academic program. All classes are coeducational. There are individual chevrutot and group classes. Small class sizes allow for active student participation and significant interaction between students and instructors. The students learn in ways that open their minds and lead them to sustain a modern religious way of life. They are taught to integrate what they learn and implement it in their everyday living, while becoming an integral part of Jewish society.
The program is designed to nurture a love of limud Torah and to foster the skills necessary for independent study. The studies are serious and full participation is required. Within the warm, vibrant atmosphere of learning is an openness to a wide range of opinions and views, a firm respect for tradition and an uncompromising adherence to halacha.
Hebrew study is a top priority as the critical tool both in Torah studies and in understanding contemporary Israeli society. Ulpan classes are offered at a number of levels according to participants’ needs and abilities and students study Hebrew throughout the year. A Hebrew Coordinator is on staff in Jerusalem and is responsible for overseeing all ulpanim. Participants are evaluated throughout the year to determine progress made. Participants are also encouraged to learn informally and to take advantage of their contact with Israeli families and peers to develop their Hebrew conversational skills.
As students may earn up to 27-30 college credits for their coursework, full attendance and preparation for classes are required.
Course requirements include full attendance, homework, essays, written assessments and compliance with the honor code.
Shalem faculty members have extensive experience in formal and/or informal education, and have earned, minimally, an M.A. (with the exception of ulpan teachers). Religiously and spiritually meaningful instruction is offered at a yeshiva and university level. Shalem participants may be eligible to receive a transcript from the American Jewish University upon completion of the Shalem program.
BRIEF COURSE DESCRIPTIONS
The following are courses that have been offered in recent years during the Shalem program. Courses for 2012-2013 are subject to change and may vary from those listed here. (RYO denotes classes that are being taught by Rav Yossela Ote, Rosh Tochnit Shalem.)
A disciplined, analytical study of Torah SheBichtav that includes both a formal iyun shiur and preparation b’chevruta. Biblical texts invite rigorous analysis. The class focuses on developing a clear understanding of biblical texts, themes and questions before delving into the commentaries and midrashic explanations. The shiur sharpens students’ abilities to encounter Tanach texts on a p’shat level and provides additional analysis of the varying messages that traditional and modern commentators have derived from these texts.
TEXTUAL TANACH INSIGHTS (RYO)
This course delves into the text of the Tanach, discovering chiddushim and analyzing b’kiut knowledge. Applying logical thought and philosophical teachings to the psukim help us to realize the reason behind each and every letter of the Tanach, as the important timeless lessons of every word begin to unfold.
An in-depth, analytical approach to the study of Gemara. Students prepare suggiyot b’chevruta, with an emphasis on identifying important themes, tracing their development through the Mishna and Gemara, rishonim and achronim and analyzing their resolution(s) in piskei halacha. The shiur expands on the material students have prepared, placing it in a wider thematic framework and drawing additional comparisons and distinctions. This introduces students to new techniques of Talmudic analysis and encourages them to broaden their own analytical imagination in future independent and chevruta learning. Suggiyot are chosen on the basis of their pedagogical value in honing analytical skills and their intrinsic relevance to contemporary issues students face as thinking, observant Jews in the modern world.
Hebrew language skills are fundamental in providing access to traditional Jewish texts and contemporary Israeli society. To facilitate the most dramatic improvement possible for students at any level, Hebrew is taught in accordance with the intensive Hebrew ulpan method of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Placement is by a standardized Hebrew University examination. Ulpan classes will be based on a ratio of approximately one instructor to every 15 students. The Hebrew ulpan is designed to improve students’ conversational, grammatical and writing skills. Different levels of Hebrew language instruction are available, from beginner to advanced.
The religious Zionist community in Israel has always been at the forefront of Zionist ideological debate and thought, turning ideology into practical contributions to the State of Israel. In this course, students examine the issues that define religious Zionist thought, and the challenges they face in the modern world. It is these challenges that separate them from other streams of Zionism, and other philosophical communities within Orthodox Judaism, and it is the aim of the course to explore these areas, as well as the personalities that are continuously developing this area of modern Jewish thought.
JEWISH THOUGHT THROUGHOUT THE AGES
In this course, students will become acquainted with a variety of philosophers and Jewish thinkers throughout history. The course explores many of the following topics: God, Reward & Punishment, Free Will vs. Destiny, Afterlife, Sexuality, Love, Tolerance, the Chosen People, and Character Development. Each week, the course covers a different subject and follows each subject with text-based analysis of the different thinkers and periods. Students will leave the class with a stronger foundation in Jewish thought and more text-based in-depth knowledge of certain topics and philosophers.
This class delves into the depths of the Chassidic movement from theological, historical and social perspectives. The course strives to understand the exceptional impact of Chassidut on the last 250 years of Judaism. Students attempt to discover the essence of Chassidic Judaism by studying the Torahs of the various rabbis, reading scholarly works and meeting members of modern Chassidic communities.
TOPICS IN HALACHA (RYO)
The course offers an examination of the halachic process through the detailed study of specific halachic issues. Attention is given to the differing factors brought to bear on an issue by poskim of different eras. This highlights the sensitivity of poskim through the ages to halachic issues arising from the complexities of modern society in their day, including both the interpretation of traditional halachic categories in light of emerging technologies, and their application and adaptation to changing social and political structures. Particular emphasis is placed on the halachic authorities of our own time, and on achieving an understanding of how they deal with the complex issues of modern Jewish life in both Israel and the Diaspora.
KABBALAH & JEWISH METAPHYSICS
This course will explore the philosophy of Kabbalah, focusing on its connection to contemporary issues. We will examine how the Kabbalah, in addition to being informative, is timeless and insightful, by addressing key questions and common misconceptions about Judaism. Additionally, we will become familiar with basic mystical terms and discuss Jewish metaphysical beliefs.
TOPICS IN MACHSHAVA
This course will discuss different topics in modern Jewish thought that are of particular relevance to the students. The class discussion is based on a short article relating to a topic the students receive a week in advance. The information, opinions, and challenges raised in the articles will be the springboard for a deeper analysis of each topic and how it relates to the students’ lives. Students have the opportunity to suggest some of the topics.
An analysis of each week’s Parsha with the goal of broadening the students’ bekiyut in Torah, understanding the messages of the Parsha and clarifying the perspectives of different parshanim. Emphasis is given to eliciting messages that are of relevance to the students’ lives and spiritual development.
An opportunity to hear the different voices of Hashem throughout the Tanach. Students will have the opportunity to study different books throughout Nach in depth. Emphasis is placed on understanding the message of a specific perek and its context within the whole book. Comparing the different styles and messages enables a student to develop a deeper and more sensitive understanding of the Tanach and its messages.
In this class students are immersed in the world of Midrashic literature, encouraging an appreciation of the depth and beauty of this area of classic Jewish text. Midrashim are explored as the source of the most basic theological, philosophical and ethical tenets of Judaism. Students are encouraged to engage in their own analysis of Midrashim, and will be challenged to place themselves in the minds of our Talmudic masters, examining their methods, agendas and ideas.
WOMEN AND JUDAISM
This class addresses specific issues facing Modern Orthodox women in today’s society. The class examines a modern woman’s place within Judaism from a halachic and spiritual perspective. Within a small forum, issues and subjects central to Jewish women will be studied in greater depth
This class delves into the Ramban’s unique system of thought, which spans Kabbalistic as well as halachic areas. Using Ramban’s commentary on the Torah, along with other relevant works, the course focuses on issues pertaining to our own spiritual growth. The structure of the class will be a relaxed, open environment providing the students with the opportunity for discussion and setting the agenda for topics along with the instructor.
ETHICAL TEACHINGS IN JUDAISM
Students will study some of Judaism’s most famous ethical and moral teachings. The class learns the wisdom and traditions from the schools of Mussar and Chassidut, particularly Rav Moshe Chaim Luzatto’s Mesilat Yesharim and Rav Nachman’s Likutei Maharan, among other important texts. The class will analyze and learn the texts both on a historical level as well as a practical and personal level. The goal of the class is to gain knowledge and familiarity of the texts and to further develop and build our characters—both on a spiritual and intellectual level.
ADVANCED STUDIES IN PIRKEI AVOT
Pirkei Avot, traditionally translated as “Ethics of the Fathers,” is a treasure chest of 2,000-year-old rabbinic wisdom. This unique masechet from the Mishna, the only one of sixty-three sections that does not deal with ritual laws or legal rulings, preserves the insights and sermons of some of Judaism’s most astounding teachers. This course will consider the role of Pirkei Avot in Torah She’Baal Peh and closely study the structure, historical context, and rabbinical personalities that contribute to this incredible ethical guide. An analysis of Judaism’s understanding of itself and how Jews today mold their own ethical and moral values.
RAV SOLOVEITCHIK- THE LONELY MAN OF FAITH
Rav Soloveitchik was one of the greatest rabbinic leaders of the last generation, and his impact on our generation is profound. His influence is still felt through the books and articles he left us, as well as his many students who hold positions of rabbinic and educational leadership throughout North America and Israel. His unique contribution to Modern Orthodox thought through his many works help us to integrate a Torah lifestyle and the modern world on a daily basis. This course attempts to take one of Rav Soloveitchik’s works, The Lonely Man of Faith, and in an intimate setting, work through this beautiful manual for modern Jewish living. Through completing this text and referencing others, the class gains an insight into the world of Rav Soloveitchik’s thought.
GETTING TO THE ROOT ON RUTH
Who is Ruth? Why is she such an emblematic figure? What makes someone a good leader? What does it mean to take a leap of faith? The students explore the answers to these questions and others by studying the book of Ruth. In this course, we will consult classical commentators, engage in literary analysis, and come up with our own creative understandings of the text. We will see how much Ruth, a woman who lived in ancient Judea, was ahead of her time!
JERUSALEM IN THE JEWISH HISTORICAL EXPERIENCE (BEIT MIDRASH BASHETACH)
No other city reflects the scope of the Jewish past and visions of its future like Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem uniquely represents the major themes, periods, struggles and prayers of 4,000 years of Jewish history. This course gives the students an opportunity to create a dynamic Beit Midrash at the actual sites referred to by the sources they are learning. Beyond the advantages of studying outside the classroom, this course emphasizes the unique experience of learning Torah through interaction with places and events in Jewish history.
ISRAELI SOCIETY TODAY
This seminar presents the critical issues on the contemporary Israeli agenda through lecture, special guest speakers, and intense discussions, and attempts to give students the tools to analyze and comprehend them. The course consists of a weekly lecture and discussion of the events that are making headlines in Israel that week, such as the army, women, minorities, and the political system.
LOST JEWISH COMMUNITIES
This course will introduce students to the intriguing question of how to explain the physical, cultural and spiritual survival of a variety of small communities who lived many centuries in isolation. There exist several groups, remnants of Israel, such as the Karaites, Samaritans, Beta Israel from
Ethiopia, B’nei Moshe from India, the “crypto-Jews” of Portugal, Amazonian Jews and even groups claiming to descend from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. These groups not only live according to some Jewish rituals and beliefs, but also bring forth questions about Jewish identity (who is a Jew?). The class investigates these groups during the course of study, and meets with some of their representatives.
KUMA JOURNEY TO POLAND
The Dr. Marcia Robbins-Wilf Hadassah/Young Judaea Holocaust Studies Program
Kuma is an introduction to the historical development of the Holocaust with a focus on the Jewish experience in Poland during World War II. Course study will include an in-depth look at the development of Polish Jewry during the 1,000 years of Jewish residency in Poland as well as its ultimate destruction. In addition students will discuss aspects of general Polish history in order to understand the changes and shifts in Jewish society. Students will further study the history of Hitler’s Nazi Germany, the conquest of Europe and the ominous ramifications for European Jewry. Students will gain a clearer understanding of the events of the Shoah and its historical narrative, but may be left with more questions than answers. Open to students participating in the Kuma Journey to Poland. See Kuma tab for details.
(Only available to Olami participants)
The Olami track aims to expose Shalem participants to Jews who are distinct in their place in the Jewish and Zionist world. Visiting the communities during the Olami trips will enable the students to learn about Jews of other lands and their relationships to their host countries, to their local communities and to Israel. Students develop a profound appreciation for Jews in other countries through learning about their histories, their cultures and their goals and aspirations. In addition, the question of Israel’s place in the mindset of these Jewish communities will be constantly asked and discussed.
Olami is an accredited course. Students are expected to be active participants in the course. In order to receive credit for the course, students will give a presentation on one of the Olami trips, write an analysis/paper about some element of the Olami experience, and keep an ongoing journal that relates to the information provided about the various places visited, as well as thoughts and feelings about the experiences enjoyed. See the Olami tab for Olami details.
Transcripts and Credits
Thanks to an arrangement between Young Judaea and the American Jewish University (AJU), Shalem participants are eligible to register as undergraduate students in the AJU College of Arts and Sciences in Israel (AJUI). As with all matriculating programs at the AJU, AJUI is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), one of six regional associations that accredit public and private schools, colleges and universities in the United States. Accordingly, the 27-31 credits available upon acceptance to AJUI and successful completion of Shalem may be transferred to other fully accredited colleges and universities throughout North America. Through our education department, all Shalem participants must be accepted by the American Jewish University in Israel.
In order to be eligible to receive credit for classes taken on Shalem, a student must have at least a 2.0 academic GPA upon graduating high school. Each university has its own policy regarding acceptance of credit, whether earned during a deferred year or by a transfer student. It is the student’s responsibility to investigate the policy of the school he or she is interested in attending before departing for Shalem. You can request a transcript, for a $5 fee, from the AJU registrar reflecting the academic work done for the Shalem year in Israel.
For further information about the AJU, college credits or transcripts please contact the appropriate AJU staff member. The telephone number is 310-476-9777 and the extensions are listed below:
Director of Undergraduate Admissions, ext. 247
Registrar, ext. 296
If you have any additional questions about Shalem’s academic accreditation by the AJU, please contact Shalem at 212-451-6215 or 800-725-0612.
The following is a partial list of schools that have accepted AJU credits from Shalem participants over the past several years. Each university has its own credit transfer policy and each participant is encouraged to contact the universities of their choice directly to understand whether or not the credits can be transferred.
• American University, Washington DC
• Appalachian State University, NC
• Arizona State University, AZ
• Bard College, NY
• Barnard College, NY
• Bergen Community College, NJ
• Boston University, MA
• Broward Community College, FL
• Brown University, RI
• California Polytechnic State University, CA
• California State at Northridge, CA
• California State University San Bernardino, CA
• Carleton College, MN
• College of Santa Fe, NM
• College of the Redwoods, CA
• Collin County Community College, TX
• Colorado College, CO
• Colorado State University, CO
• Columbia College, IL
• Columbia University, NY
• Connecticut College, CT
• Cornell University, NY
• Curry College, MA
• Dartmouth College, NH
• Duke University, NC
• Emory University, GA
• Florida Atlantic University, FL
• Florida State University, FL
• George Washington University, DC
• Georgia State University, GA
• Goucher College, MD
• Green Mountain College, VT
• Hampshire College, MA
• Hofstra University, NY
• Ithaca College, NY
• Johns Hopkins University, MD
• Kansas State University, KS
• Lewis and Clark College, OR
• Long Island University, NY
• Louisiana State University, LA
• Lynn University, FL
• Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA
• Miami-Dade Community College, FL
• Michigan State University, MI
• Muhlenberg College, PA
• New College, England
• New York University, NY
• Northeastern University, MA
• Northwestern University, IL
• Norwich University, VT
• Oberlin College, OH
• Oxford College, GA
• Pennsylvania State University, PA
• Princeton University, NJ
• Purdue University, IN
• Quinnipiac College, CT
• Radford University, VA
• Rochester Institute of Technology, NY
• Rutgers University, NJ
• San Diego State College, CA
• Santa Monica Community College, CA
• Santa Rosa Community College, CA
• Skidmore College, NY
• Smith College, MA
• Southeastern Louisiana State University, LA
• Southern Wesleyan University, SC
• Southwest Texas State University, TX
• Stanford University, CA
• SUNY (State University of New York), NY
- Stony Brook
• Temple University, PA
• Towson University, MD
• Truett-McConnel, GA
• Tufts University, MA
• Tulane University, LA
• Union College, NY
• University of Alabama, AL
• University of Arizona, AZ
• University of California, CA
- Santa Barbara
- Santa Cruz
- San Diego
• University of Cinncinati, OH
• University of Colorado, CO
• University of Central Florida, FL
• University of Florida, FL
• University of Georgia, GA
• University of Hartford, CT
• University of Indiana, IN
• University of Iowa, IA
• University of Judaism, CA
• University of Kansas, KS
• University of Maryland, MD
• University of Massachusetts, MA
• University of Memphis, TN
• University of Miami, FL
• University of Michigan, MI
• University of Minnesota, MN
• University of Missouri, MO
• University of North Carolina, NC
• University of Oregon, OR
• University of Pennsylvania, PA
• University of Pittsburgh, PA
• University of Rhode Island, RI
• University of Rochester, NY
• University of Southern California, CA
• University of Southern Illinois, IL
• University of Tampa, FL
• University of Texas, TX
• University of Washington, WA
• University of Wisconsin, WI
• Vassar College, NY
• Western Maryland College, MD
• Western Michigan University, MI
• Western Washington University, WA
• Wheelock College, MA
• Williams College, MA
• Yale University, CT
• Yeshiva University, NY
• Concordia University, Montreal, QC
• McGill University, Montreal, QC
• Queens University, Kingston, ON
• University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
• Western University, London, ON