(lubavitch.com) In many ways Michael Friedman is no different than a lot of other college students who take a short break before in late spring, after college classes end and before the start of a summer job. This year, instead of going home or on vacation, Friedman decided he’d do something different: study in yeshiva.
Finding the right place wasn’t easy because most summer programs begin in late June or July. He also wanted to find a place that would meet his needs as a beginner.
An online search from his Charleston South Carolina campus led him to the month- long “Taste of Yeshiva Experience Summer Program” at Yeshivat Tiferes Bachurim in Morristown New Jersey, which began mid-May.
“It was perfect timing,” said Friedman who described the process of learning in yeshiva key to connecting to his heritage and understanding more about his faith and its traditions. Over the course of the last eighteen months, Friedman’s lifestyle began to gradually shift towards greater Jewish observance. One of his concerns was learning to access Jewish texts to study independently.
“When I started the program I had some basic skills. I could read Hebrew and had a little comprehension.” But by the end of his month at Tiferes, he says, “I came out with so much. I went in never having read Aramaic or the Talmud and now I can study significantly better, having advanced in just three and a half weeks.”
“It’s a reminder that when you are out in the world and working a full time job, it’s difficult to concentrate on spirituality and it’s great to go into this little world and see Torah learning is alive and blooming, and to watch yourself grow in such a short time. It definitely strengthened my inner flame, as the last semester was demanding,” said Friedman.
A division of the Rabbinical College of America, the New Jersey headquarters for Chabad-Lubavitch and a US accredited institution of higher learning, Yeshiva Tiferes Bachurim has an advanced year round study program for students relatively new to Judaism. The Taste of Yeshiva program developed informally three years ago after several visitors who came for the Shavuot holiday decided to stay for a few weeks to absorb more Torah before moving on to other summer activities.
Their enthusiasm led to the development of a new introductory beginner track for college age Jews and other Jewish professionals. Although a ten-day introductory winter session had already been running for ten years, the new early summer track was to be more in depth beginning late spring and ending early summer
Furthermore, the curriculum was to feature a full traditional Beit Midrash program with special weekly seminars on topics such as brit milah, how tzitzit—religious fringes are made. Since its inception over two years ago more than 150 students walked through its doors with more than ninety percent continuing formal learning in various ways.
“At a Chabad House a guy is exposed to Yiddishkeit but when he comes to yeshiva he gets exposed to the full deal. We can really take it to the next level,” Tiferes Bachurim’s admissions director Rabbi Shlomo Hecht said.
Explaining the Yeshiva’s approach he noted it provides students with the opportunity to delve into the depths of Chasidut and Halacha (Jewish law) and becoming comfortable with a wide range of primary sources..
“Our goal is to provide people, even young college students, with knowledge and inspiration,” he said emphasizing that although the Taste of Yeshiva program is only a month long, Tiferes Bachurim welcomes students all year.
For Chicago native Nesanel Berel, a Hofstra University student who also completed the recent summer program, knowing he has a yeshiva to call home is a special commodity he intends to enjoy.
“What I enjoyed most about the program was the Gemara (Talmud) class and discussing general principles of Hilchos Shabbos,” he said. Although he is preparing for the upcoming school year he hopes to return to the yeshiva soon.