“וזהב הארץ ההיא טוב – מלמד שאין תורה כתורת ארץ ישראל ולא חכמה כחכמת ארץ ישראל” בראשית רבה טז, ד
For many decades JTS has sent its students to study in Jerusalem. The Israel program functions as a centerpiece of our curriculum—it allows students who have already established a foundation in Hebrew language and textual interpretation to deepen these skills in the immersion environment found in modern Israel. The Israel program is important not only because of the unique resources of Jerusalem but also because of the different perspectives available there. Our students are training to become leaders of the Jewish People, and it is essential that they consider on both personal and professional levels the great challenges and opportunities presented by the experience of Jewish sovereignty in Israel. Many JTS students have substantial prior experience of visiting, studying and living in Israel; nevertheless, including Israel study as part of rabbinical education with unique academic and experiential components is integral to our program.
The goals of the transformative Israel year are many:
● Increasing proficiency in Hebrew
● Cultivating knowledge of the land, people, culture, and politics of contemporary Israel
● Deepening understanding of Torah through exposure to the unique perspectives and creative methodologies of our talented Israeli faculty
● Wrestling with the challenges and complexities of a sovereign State
● Connecting to the Masorti Movement
● Developing deep personal and professional relationships to Israel that will enrich your rabbinates. Given the growing disconnect between the world’s two largest Jewish populations (North America and Israel), it is essential that our rabbis develop their skills as interpreters of each community, drawing them closer into conversation, and exploring differences within and between them with nuance and insight.
Spending the year in Jerusalem helped me gain an understanding of this complex and sacred city that previous visits did not allow time to cultivate. JTS’s Jerusalem-based scholars enriched our academic learning through their understanding of Israeli society at-large. The staff at Schocken helped make my year in Israel the best possible! From support with getting settled to planning unique excursions, they were warm, compassionate, and detail oriented.
The chance to study in Israel with my JTS classmates was an experience that I’ll never forget and for which I’ll forever be grateful. While I relish my education in New York at JTS, Jerusalem offers teachers, encounters, and opportunities that simply don’t exist in New York, or for that matter anywhere else! I know that being a Jew and being a rabbi means engaging with Israel in serious ways, wrestling with its challenges, and celebrating and sharing its strengths. Our up-close encounter with Israel’s many challenges and its many sources of hope and pride helped deepen my understanding of and relationship to the Land, People, and State of Israel.
I loved my whole year in Israel. The academics at Schocken and Schechter were soul-filling, combined and the experiential learning we did on tiyulim that exposed me to sectors of Israeli society that were less known to me. I loved building life and community in beautiful, vibrant Jerusalem and feel deeply that my cohort and I wove connections between Israel and Diaspora Jews, both as human beings and as emerging rabbis. My Israel year at Schocken was one filled with joy, growth, adventure, connection, and deep Torah!