Jewish Learning Institute

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The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute
JLI Logo.jpg
Founded 1999
Headquarters
Focus(es) Adult Education
Motto "Real Learning for Real Life"
Website http://myjli.com

The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) is the largest provider of adult Jewish learning, offering courses on a wide range of topics at 350 chapters worldwide, with locations spanning six continents. Employing research-based instructional design, JLI aims to present Judaism in a manner that is both intellectually rigorous and highly accessible .[1] In 2009, in the U.S. alone, JLI enrolled over 42,000 individuals in its courses, several times more than all other national adult Jewish education programs combined.[2]

The institute offers three courses annually made available through local chapters and taught by a local instructor. Each course lasts for six weekly sessions. For the convenience of travelers, each class unit is taught during the same week at every location, both in America and around the globe.[2] General topics include:

Some JLI courses have been accredited by the American Medical Association for Continuing Medical Education credits. Others are accredited to offer Continuing Legal Education credits by the bars of 29 states, Australia, the UK and the National Board of Licenses.

JLI has twelve departments: JLI Flagship Courses, Torah Studies, My Shiur, Sinai Scholars, JLI Teens, Rosh Chodesh Society, Torah Café, National Jewish Retreat, The Land and the Spirit Mission, JLA Academy, Continuing Education, and Marketing and PR.

A subsidiary of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, JLI is the adult education arm of Chabad Lubavitch.

History[edit]

JLI was founded in 1999 with the mission to inspire increased Jewish learning worldwide and create a global network of informed students connected by bonds of shared Jewish experience. The first JLI course, Jewish Mysticism, was piloted at 15 Chabad centers in 1999. The institute expanded thereafter, introducing 15-20 new cities annually until 2005, when JLI was expanded to 40 new cities.[3]

Since its inception in 1998, over 220,000 students have completed JLI courses, with enrollment of 12,000 to 16,000 students each semester. As of 2011, JLI has developed 37 separate six-week courses, the most popular of which have been on Jewish thought, law, and mysticism.[2]

JLI affiliates are offered in 37 states as well as 24 countries. Courses are translated into Hebrew, Spanish, German, and Russian.[citation needed]

Mission and Educational Philosophy[edit]

JLI’s mission is “to inspire Jewish learning worldwide and to transform Jewish life and the greater community through Torah study, creating a global network of informed students connected by bonds of shared Jewish experience.”[4]

JLI crafts courses to address students' "multiple intelligences" and diverse learning styles, while also considering the impact of Jewish values on personal and interpersonal growth.[2] Drawing on research-based instructional design, JLI’s presentation of Judaism is designed to be both intellectually rigorous and highly accessible to the modern adult.[4]

JLI Departments[edit]

Aside from the courses offered through JLI's Flagship program, the following programs are included under the JLI umbrella

Torah Studies[edit]

Torah Studies curriculum presents ideas and issues from the weekly Torah portion, with themes ranging from business ethics to preserving the environment. The curriculum is complemented by textbooks, interactive exercises and audio-visual presentations.

My Shiur[edit]

The My Shiur Talmud Learning Initiative's curriculum teaches skills for the study of Talmud, with the goal to make Talmud study accessible to those without prior experience of Talmudic study.

Sinai Scholars[edit]

The Sinai Scholars Society is an integrated program for college campuses comprising Torah study, social activities, and national networking opportunities that seeks to introduce students to the contemporary significance of the Jewish experience. The eight-part curriculum addresses essentials in Jewish learning in the light of important issues in modern life. During the course, students submit an academic paper on Jewish thought and participate in community and holiday events.

JLI Teens[edit]

JLI Teens seeks to make Judaism come alive for teenagers in a series of engaging, comprehensive, relevant courses on Jewish issues. In its pilot year, JLI Teens developed a course on Judaism’s approach to suicide, self-preservation and the value of human life. The course, titled, “My Space. Your Space. Is MY life any of YOUR business?” was attended by over 650 students. The program has grown to include 900 students in 45 cities. The JLI Teens International internship program invites a few select teens in each chapter who demonstrate leadership qualities. The interns’ multi-faceted role includes providing early feedback and suggestions to course developers, participating in special contests and activities as well as joint conference calls to share ideas.

Rosh Chodesh Society[edit]

JLI’s women’s studies division, The Rosh Chodesh Society (RCS), was founded in 2009. It seeks to inspire, empower, and connect the modern Jewish woman with her Jewish heritage through rigorous text-based study in tandem with creative social programming. The women’s studies program made its debut with Rivka’s Tent, a seven-part series of textually-based study of the three mitzvot unique to women. RCS has affiliates in over 100 communities.

Torah Café[edit]

Torah Café is a virtual forum for audio-visual learning online. The site hosts over 3,000 video lectures and short clips on every topic in Jewish thought and practice. Subjects range from Jewish philosophy, law and history to dating, relationships and marriage, to music and entertainment. Most of the material is original to the site and is not available elsewhere.

Torah Café features lectures from world-renowned rabbis such as Rabbis Yisroel Meir Lau, Yoel Kahn, Immanuel Schochet, Manis Friedman, Simon Jacobson, Yossi Jacobson as well as from other noted Jewish thinkers the likes of Joe Lieberman, Dennis Prager and Elie Wiesel and many others.

National Jewish Retreat[edit]

Founded in 2005, the six-day annual National Jewish Retreat includes more than 150 live lectures and interactive workshops on Jewish life, law, history, culture and tradition by over 30 scholars and experts from various fields of study. The Retreat is hosted each summer at a luxurious hotel, and gourmet kosher catering is provided. In 2010, over 600 participants joined the Retreat in the Hyatt Regency in Reston, Virginia. George Allen (U.S. politician) gave the keynote address, during which he discussed his Jewish roots in public for the first time[5] Other lecturers have included Israel's former chief Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau, Dennis Prager, and Nat Lewin, among others.

The Land & the Spirit[edit]

A program inspired by the success of JLI’s Fall 2007 course on Israel, The Land and the Spirit, JLI launched its first mission to Israel in March 2008 and second in April 2010. The mission invites people to discover their personal connection with the land of Israel and learn the history of the Jewish people at Israel’s holy sites. The Land and the Spirit Mission to Israel program is designed to give participants an inside look at Israel. They meet with prominent politicians and decision makers, scholars and local residents. The mission travels from Caesarea and Tzfat down to Hevron, including visits to Jerusalem and the Judean Desert and it brings messages of support from home communities in the Diaspora to the IDF forces and to families of terror victims. The Land and the Spirit Mission offers students an opportunity to explore and experience Israel.

Leadership[edit]

Executive Director: Rabbi Efraim Mintz; Chairman: Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky; Principal Benefactor: Mr. George Rohr.

Executive Committee: Rabbi Chaim Block, San Antonio, TX; Rabbi Hesh Epstein, Columbia, SC ; Rabbi Yosef Gansburg, Toronto, ON; Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan, Potomac, MD; Rabbi Yisrael Rice, S. Rafael, CA; Rabbi Avrohom Sternberg, New London, CT

Instructor Training[edit]

The JLI Academy serves as JLI’s training arm for its affiliated instructors. New affiliates join the academy to be trained as a JLI instructor. Veteran affiliates look to the Academy to provide ongoing instruction to hone their pedagogic skills, learn curriculum matter in depth and further their reach with new marketing ideas and strategies. The JLI Academy also serves as a forum of discussion between the JLI Headquarters and JLI affiliates around the globe, where the JLI Academy can learn from the instructors “on the ground” and can give each affiliate personal feedback and encouragement. The Academy organizes an annual conference, intermittent webinars, podcasts and other interactive instruction, as well as one-to-one training opportunities.

Every instructor is required to attend the annual JLI conference to master new courses and review pedagogical methods. The challenge, according to director Efraim Mintz, "is to get teachers who are used to frontal teaching" (i.e., lecturing)"to teach otherwise." "Otherwise" means limiting lectures to no more than 60 percent of each 90-minute session, leaving the rest of the time for discussion, debate, and even role-playing. Mintz has also developed an online study hall for instructors to share techniques, and Facebook and Twitter pages to link students with each other.[2]

The annual JLI Conference hosts international speakers such as marketing expert Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg and Yeshiva University's Dr. David Pelcovitz.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Combating Apathy to Israel: Chabad's New Israel Awareness Course" "Israel National News" November 27, 2007
  2. ^ a b c d e Vital Signs: Adult Education, Chabad-Style » Content » Jewish Ideas Daily[dead link]
  3. ^ Fishkoff, Sue (March 2, 2006). "Chabad institute keeps on growing". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 
  4. ^ a b myJLI.com :: Mission Statement
  5. ^ George Allen looks to his roots while planting campaign seeds
  6. ^ COLive staff (Jul 7, 2014). "Shluchim Gather for JLI Conference". Community News Service. Retrieved 22 July 2014. "Shluchim filled a wide auditorium on the campus to hear renowned marketing expert Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg. A Chassidishe Jew from Yerushalayim, Ginzberg has become famous for his endless supply of creative and original marketing ideas" and "There were also previews of two of the much-anticipated JLI Courses for the upcoming year, led by Dr. David Pelcovitz along with JLI’s very own curriculum development team, Rabbi Mordechai Dinerman and Rabbi Naftali Silberberg."