I’ve been a Hebrew College Me’ah Select regular for several years and have enjoyed the topics, the teaching and the discussions that I’ve had with other adult learners like myself. A few years ago, I tried a different teaching environment when I attended a Zionism seminar as a non-credit student at the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College.
The class was taught by Rabbi Dan Judson, dean of graduate leadership programs, and offered a fresh format that was both energizing and inspirational for me. Admittedly, I was initially a bit out of my comfort zone because I was not a fully matriculated student, did not read Hebrew and was clearly 30 years older than any of the students in my class. In the end, these distinctive differences contributed to an experience that my exceeded my expectations.
What was so special? It was more than the reading assignments that offered more original source material and depth than anything I had experienced in Me’ah. My classmates made it special. They figured out rather quickly that I was not a guest lecturer and simply a student like themselves who brought a longer lifetime of experience to the classroom and had a somewhat different world view as a result. The students were completely engaged and brought an openness and plethora of fresh ideas to the topic of Zionism. I recall one classroom discussion in particular in which the students’ youthful idealism resonated with Herzl, who had been largely undaunted by the challenges he faced. It was heartening to be with and witness firsthand the future rabbis and teachers of the next generation.
Of course, a graduate course requires a greater level of commitment to study than Me’ah. Not surprisingly, the more effort I put into the class, the more I got back in return. The combination of students, teacher and original source materials was an enriched setting that enhanced my Jewish learning experience. I plan to do it again.
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