May 18, 2024
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May 18, 2024
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My ‘Start-Up Nation’ Story: Balancing Torah, Academics and Work Experience

I came to Israel with the intention to do my one-year due diligence and return home. It wasn’t before long that this land had a striking resemblance to home, or what would one day become my home.

A young immigrant to the “start-up nation,” I’m studying to one day work in a start-up field. I’ve been offered several opportunities through contacts I’ve met at events on campus—where I fit all of my secular academic studies into two days while balancing them with Torah studies, all in a religious environment.

For Orthodox students in the Diaspora, this sounds like striking gold, doesn’t it?

“If you will it, it is no dream,” Walter Sobchak said. It’s my own day-to-day reality as a student in the Jerusalem College of Technology’s (JCT) International Program in English.

After graduating from Torah Academy of Bergen County, I studied for two years at Yeshivat Reishit Yerushalayim in Beit Shemesh, which is where my connection with Israel began to grow. Following my time at Reishit, I enlisted in the IDF and joined the Givati Brigade With my service solidifying my desire to make aliyah, I did so immediately upon my release. I returned to yeshiva and continued my studies for another year. As the year wound down, I began to wonder what my academic future would be.

I was uncertain about my options moving forward with higher education. I wanted to get the best Israel has to offer, while still maintaining a presence within my yeshiva. I wondered if such a thing is possible anywhere, but here I am.

The seemingly unlikely prospect of a seamless Torah-academic balance is possible—and it has far exceeded my expectations, particularly through how JCT is empowering me with the practical tools and experience to set me up for success in my future career.

After getting released from the military last November, I returned to the Reishit campus to live and work as a madrich (counselor) for the current students there. Simultaneously, I enrolled in JCT’s International Program, which enables students to continue learning with their rebbeim in their yeshivot in Israel, while concurrently providing them with the opportunity to obtain a high-level academic degree and strong professional training in business.

Deciding to take the opportunity to pursue a business degree—in the comfort of my native language—while maintaining my connection to yeshiva was really a no-brainer for me. The biggest pleasant surprise during my first semester in the international program has been the school’s striking encouragement towards balancing not just academics and Torah, but also professional experience. It’s a dual curriculum—secular and Jewish—coupled with actual field work. No other school I know of even approaches JCT’s unique incorporation of these various personal and professional priorities.

JCT persistently encourages us to have jobs or internships while we’re studying both Torah and secular academics. The school makes that possible by efficiently fitting our college courses into a two-day schedule—leaving ample time for work experience outside the classroom—while professors and administrators have a keen sensitivity to our desire to always leave enough time in our days and nights for Torah learning.

The college consistently brings professional leaders to campus for lectures and career events — and that’s exactly how I obtained my current position in high-tech profitization of market conjectures.

Admittedly, packing an entire college course schedule into just two days isn’t easy—those days are long and rigorous. But as students and ultimately as future members of the workforce, we appreciate the structure that JCT has designed. It’s tremendously growth-promoting to utilize the material you’re learning in the classroom for an immediate, practical application in the real world, teaching us to strike fast and strike quick in the business world.

Just one semester into my college experience, I can confidently say that thanks to JCT’s international program, my future in Israel is as bright as a lightning strike.

By Eli Wiesel

Eli Wiesel is a native of Bergenfield, New Jersey.

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