April 13, 2024
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Lamdeinu Launches Fall Semester of Learning

Teaneck–The fall semester of Lamdeinu, the new center in Teaneck for adult Jewish learning, begins September 8, and the enthusiastic reviews on the inaugural semester this summer are still pouring in. Teaneck resident Rachel Friedman, dean of Lamdeinu, told JLBC, “We had a really awesome launch this summer; way beyond my expectations.”

Friedman’s initial goal was to establish a new center for high-level, accessible, and inspiring Torah learning in New Jersey. This summer, 140 students were engaged and inspired, and so were Friedman and her fellow presenters. Housed at Congregation Beth Aaron, Lamdeinu is open to the entire community. And when Friedman says “community” she is referring to the greater Teaneck community–including Englewood, Fair Lawn, Paramus, and Ft. Lee. Participants also came from West Orange, Springfield, Riverdale, Monsey, and Manhattan. All ages were represented and Friedman shared that one of the beautiful things she witnessed was daughters bringing their mothers and mothers bringing their daughters. She said it was wonderful to see different generations learning together.

Friedman said she was touched and inspired by the support of the community and the participants. “…We really connected. With all that was happening in Israel, it was a very touching time for people to be united in learning. We were able to learn as a community. And we were in the Beth Aaron Beth Midrash surrounded by sefarim–that was very inspirational.”

One of the classes offered this summer was Advanced Talmud Study for Women taught by Rabbi David Nachbar. The class was for women with advanced Talmud skills and many of the participants were themselves Talmud teachers. Friedman told the JLBC, “If you give educators a chance to learn with their peers in the summer, they will be even better teachers during the school year. It was an excellent learning experience.”

Dena Block, a Talmud instructor at Ma’ayanot and a Yoetzet Halacha, took the course. “Both the shiurim and the chevruta learning were high level and stimulating and it was an enriching experience both intellectually and religiously,” she said. “It was a real treat to learn with a wonderful group of women who are passionate about learning Torah and especially to learn something that was purely for its own sake.”

Arielle Cohen reflected, “Lamdeinu was a transformative experience for me this summer. Rachel Friedman specializes in bringing alive a Torah narrative and extrapolating important lessons that we can apply to our everyday lives. I am eagerly looking forward to Lamdeinu’s new upcoming fall schedule replete with opportunities for consistent high-level Torah learning with renowned Torah scholars.”

Many of Lamdeinu’s classes are open to both men and women; some classes are for women only. Lamdeinu offers traditional lectures/shiurim, but also offers the model of learning with a chevruta (guided preparation of the material with a fellow-student as a learning partner) followed by a shiur. For example, in Parshanut HaMikra, participants receive guided questions and sources to help in their preparation of a Torah section. The idea behind this model is to empower the students to learn on their own so that when the shiur begins everyone already has a grounding and can share his/her thoughts and insights. Friedman told JLBC, “It’s a way for people to connect with Torah as it’s been studied through the millennia. It creates a connection between the people and the text. It affords strong communal bonding; it’s a way of connecting learners with each other and with the word of God.”

While today it is not uncommon for girls to learn Talmud in high school or college, this opportunity was not available to many of their mothers or grandmothers. Friedman is proud to be able to offer these women a home now, in the greater Teaneck community, to come and learn Talmud.

In addition to Friedman, classes will be led this fall by Shira Schiowitz (who joins as assistant dean), Rabbi Dr. Aaron Segal, and Rabbi Hayyim Angel. A wellness option (yoga) will be offered by Shifra Shafier. Topics will include Parshanut HaMikra, Parashat HaShavua, Talmud, Sefer Yirmiyahu, as well as special shiurim for the High Holidays and mini-series on the Haftarot and on Jewish Philosophy. Lamdeinu offers learning opportunities Monday-Thursday and Tuesday evenings.

Sury Kaminetsky sums it up well. “I emailed my grandchildren in camp that when we are younger we don’t appreciate the learning and often find it tedious. But in later life, we find out that it is just what we want and need for spiritual and mental growth! I can’t adequately express how phenomenal the classes were. I was so uplifted in a way that I never dreamt I could be.”

A full list of courses for the fall semester, additional information about Lamdeinu, online registration and sponsorship opportunities can be found at www.lamdeinu.org.

By Sara Kosowsky Gross

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