Mayanot Online Summer Courses Conclude
The Jerusalem-based Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies has recently completed its unique online summer learning program, which allowed hundreds of students from around the world to expand their Torah-learning skill set from the comfort of their homes during the Corona-virus pandemic.
Close to 400 students, both men and women, participated daily in three separate tracks including beginner, intermediate, and advanced Torah classes, with a special Sunday program offered to accommodate those unavailable to learn during the week.
25-year-old Sapir Fellus from Ottawa, Canada didn’t need much convincing to take several online courses at Mayanot. Two summers ago, Fellus had the opportunity to study at Mayanot’s Jerusalem campus.
“What was great about the courses at Mayanot was that the teachers really care about the students and really push them to think critically. It was really nice to sit down every day with teachers who were willing to challenge me. Taking the online courses from home was such a unique opportunity.”
Lazaros Tzioras is a 27-year-old from Athens, Greece, who spent time serving in the IDF Paratroopers from 2015-2017. Now back in Athens, he said that he decided to try out the “beginner” level track of the program.
Tzioras shared that he has become more observant in recent years, and he explained that thanks to the courses, “this is the second time in my life that I felt that I belonged to a group with the same purpose and same goals. The first time I had that feeling was serving in the IDF. It doesn’t matter where you come from in this world, I feel Mayanot really helps you reconnect to your roots and helps with the teshuva process, which I am now on.”
Shani Smith, a married mother of five from Johannesburg, South Africa, participated in the “advanced” track online and said, “When I saw the opportunity to study at Mayanot, I jumped at it. I’m a busy mother of five, but one of the positives of Corona was being able to learn during the summer, from home.”
She added, “whether it was courses in Chumash, Shabbat insights, or Parshat Hashavua, these teachers made learning Torah so alive. I was bouncing! It was simply incredible.”
Jeremy Coleman, 57, from London said that “I really have had a life changing experience with the Mayanot summer program. I am on a spiritual high.”
Coleman hopes that when Corona subsides, he will have the opportunity to come and study at Mayanot in Jerusalem. “I know I will feel at home there. It was lovely to do the courses online, and get a feel for it all, before jumping in and being able to do it in person. I just wanted to jump through the screen and hug my rabbis!”
Commenting on the success of the program, Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, Executive Director of Mayanot said “The greatest gift we were given from corona was the opportunity to inspire hundreds of people from all over the world in Torah learning, directly from Jerusalem.”
Rabbi Tzemach Chazan, Mayanot’s Director of Online Programming shared “It wasn’t just students listening to a class on Youtube, the Zoom platform we used allowed students to solidify relationships with their teachers and with other students. They were able to interact and that impacted their learning tremendously.”
Rabbi Yitzchok Kaufmann a Mayanot Rabbi who taught Gemara, Chasidut, and Tanya online during the summer, is looking forward to the day when he can teach his students in person, at Mayanot’s Jerusalem campus.
In the meantime, he said “In a few short weeks we were able to see tremendous improvement in the students' learning skills, especially in Gemara, from when they started the program. Which is an amazing accomplishment, especially online.”
Rabbi Shlomo Gestetner, Dean of Mayanot, shared “There is a Midrash which teaches that the real purpose Hashem created gold in the world is that it should be used for the Beit Hamikdash. I now believe that the inner purpose of “Zoom” was to teach Torah to the Jewish People and bring the word of G-d to all.”
Mayanot is grateful to all the teachers and students who participated in this groundbreaking program, to teach Torah to a variety of students from different backgrounds, levels, and locations. Mayanot is excited to continue the momentum with the special online courses planned for Elul Zman and the Fall Semester.
Mayanot’s special high-holiday Elul courses are slated to begin on August 25 and run till September 24. The Mayanot fall semester is scheduled to start after the holidays. For updated information on the courses and to register, please check Mayanot’s website for details: https://mayanot.edu/online/