The WUJS Jerusalem Learning program is a deep and engaging Jewish studies experience. The Jerusalem Ulpan (Hebrew language) program coupled with extensive courses in Judaism and Zionism are all conducted in a pluralist, open minded environment. Our holistic educational approach incorporates time in the classroom, weekly field trips, overnight hikes, meetings with Israeli peers, volunteer options and a variety of fun and enriching activities.
During the September session, participants spend the first month of the program orienting themselves to Israel and their surrounding as well as taking an intensive 3-week Hebrew ulpan (language course). The next four months are spent taking classes at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, conveniently located a 5-minute walk away from the WUJS apartments.
During the March session, participants spend the first month of the program orienting themselves to Israel and their surrounding as well as taking an intensive 3-week Hebrew ulpan (language course). The next two months are spent volunteering in one of Jerusalem's many non-profit organizations while the final two months are spent taking classes at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, conveniently located a 5-minute walk away from the WUJS apartments.
Typical examples of classes at the Pardes Institute can be seen below.
Participants on the WUJS Jerusalem Learning program are required to take the Hebrew Ulpan classes. Beyond that, participants may take up to the maximum of the other interesting and intellectually challenging classes on offer.
Current courses include:
Foundations of Judaism
Do you want to know more about Judaism? Have questions you always wanted answered? If you are beginning a Jewish journey and want a good entrance to Jewish life then Pardes' Jewish Literacy Immersion track is for you. The track includes study of Jewish philosophy, ritual, and text leading to greater knowledge and sharper skills. Students will be encouraged to grapple with the underlying ideas of Judaism and explore how these ideas affect their own lives. Become part of the Jewish conversation and influence the direction of the Jewish future!
Texts will be offered in the original Hebrew or Aramaic and in English.
Learning outside of the classroom includes lunch-time workshops, speakers from a broad gamut of the Jewish world, visits to synagogues and museums – all of them opportunities to see how Israel works as a giant Jewish laboratory.
The Big Issues
This course uses the parsha as a lens to view weekly Jewish life. We will explore the major themes of the weekly Torah and haftara readings through a close reading of the original text. A variety of different modes of interpretations will be used – medieval and modern commentators, philosophy, literature, history and contemporary biblical research. In second semester the class will be given in easy Hebrew.
Jewish Social Justice
We all want to build a better world, but how should that world look? How should we get there?
Class is open to all levels. Central sources will be studied in Hebrew. The sourcebook provides English translations for most sources. Supplementary Sources have been provided at the back of your sourcebook. Students enrolling in this course are also committing to attend weekly processing sessions, supplementary lectures and field trips, as described below.
• To Define a Jewish Vision(s) of Social Justice through Jewish text
• To give current and future activists the tools to use Jewish text to inform and inspire their work.
• To learn about the state of the field and the specific challenges in the State of Israel with the help of supplemental guest lectures and field visits
• Through a close study of Jewish texts, primarily Talmud and codes, around an agenda dictated primarily, but not exclusively, by those texts.
• Weekly Processing Sessions on Thursday's during lunch
• Supplementary lectures by people in the field, in both governmental and non-profit sectors. Most of these lectures will be during lunch before the class.
• Through occasional site visits.
• Students are strongly encouraged to take a leadership role in the community service component of the Pardes program.
This course will consider the Halakha from the standpoint of practical application. We will study a number of areas including the Jewish holidays, basic blessings and prayers, Shabbat, Kashrut and some life cycle events. Along the way we will become familiar with some of the most important Halakhic texts, both ancient as well as modern, as we acquire basic proficiency in terms of Halakhic practice. No previous exposure to the study of Halakhic texts is necessary nor is commitment to Halakhic observance a prerequisite.
Torah Trop Cantillation
The word 'ta'am' means 'flavor' and the 'ta'amei hamikrah' (trope marks) not only show us how to chant each word in the Tanach, but also add 'flavor' i.e. enhance the text too.
During this course students will acquire the tools to chant any part of Torah, while also looking at how the trop functions as an interpretation to the text.
Self, Soul & Text:
The Self, Soul and Text: Personal Transformation in Judaism Track will focus
on the spiritual, psychological, ethical and religious transformation of the
individual and the community.
The Self, Soul and Text: Personal Transformation in Judaism Track will focus on the spiritual, psychological, ethical and religious transformation of the individual and the community.
Through the intensive study of Jewish texts from the rabbinic, spiritual, mystical and musar tradition, the performance of spiritual practices of self-transformation emerging from these texts, the joint and individual processing of these practices and the experiences and states of being they produce, participants will work in a steady and focused way on transforming their moral and spiritual selves and deepening their awareness. Field trips, guest speakers and a class retreat will enrich and deepen our work on ourselves and the tradition.
Texts and practices will be integrated in such a way that students gain religious, philosophical, historical and terminological depth in the nature of Jewish spiritual practice and understand and experience the transformative power of these practices.
This course will involve intellect, soul, heart and body and so participants are asked to come with intellectual, emotional, and spiritual openness and the willingness to experiment.
Texts of the Rambam
The fascination with Maimonides – or MYmonides, as so many claim – transcends the divisions between different streams of Judaism. Indeed, the writings of Maimonides (Rambam) are filled with gems in the field of Jewish Law and Philosophy, their structure, logic and meaning, and it seems every faction wants to claim him for their own. We will study texts of the Rambam, beginning with ספר מדע in the משנה תורה. Parallel and complementary sources will be discussed and their implication explored. Special attention will be given not only to content of the text, but also to the personality of the רמב"ם, his style and unique contribution.
This class will also assist in honing Hebrew skills as we will examine the sources in the original accessible Hebrew of Maimonides.
In this course we will walk the spiritual path of Hassidut, meeting central personalities, becoming familiar with key ideas and having an appreciation for the historical and social development of the movement that has given so much to Judaism.
This course does not purport to be an introduction to Hassidic thought nor an exhaustive history of the movement, though it touches on both introductory aspects and history. Hasidic songs – niggunim – will also be introduced. The final section of the course will deal with contemporary hasidic phenomena.
Each week participants will be assigned tasks – "spiritual homework" – connected to the passages discussed that must be completed outside class.
WUJS in Jerusalem – General
The Hebrew Ulpan classes on the WUJS program in Jerusalem are run by the Hebrew Department of Young Judaea Israel Programs. During the five month program, the studies are broken up into four parts:
- 3-week intensive ulpan during first month of the program. This builds up a strong feeling of self-confidence in using Hebrew to communicate in Israel from the very beginning of the program.
- 1-week intensive ulpan during the third month of the program.
- 1-week intensive ulpan during the fifth month of the program.
- Short Hebrew activity every Tuesday morning throughout the entire program (apart from intensive weeks).
Example of class on the course:
Why do Jews Pray? Prayer is Tough
The concept of Tefilla (Prayer) in Judaism is vastly more complex than simply asking God to fulfill our needs. For these two sessions we will be diving into the world of Jewish Prayer. We will answer the questions 'Does God really need MY prayers?', 'What if I think praying is boring?', 'I don't even understand the prescribed prayers when I read them in English, so why do it at all?', 'I'm not even sure I believe in God, so why pray?', and 'Going to Synagogue makes me nervous, can't I just pray on my own?'
We will look into the Siddur (prayer book) and see what the rhythm of some of the services is. Also, we will travel through the Amida, which is the central Jewish prayer, and see the three elements that are considered integral to the act of praying. In addition, we will look at the various categories of Brachot (blessings) and see that there is a comprehensive system of blessings for almost every occasion imaginable. By the end of our time together we will understand that, in its ideal form, prayer is really a constant ongoing process of self transformation.
Israeli Society through Film
Learning about Israeli history and society through the lens of films produced in Israel. Topics such as the "image" of the Israeli- the Sabra-; Zionist mythology and legend; Confronting issues of the Secular-Religious debate; Children in Israeli Film; Israel in the eye of the observer.
Key Issues in Israel Seminars
During the first month of the program, in addition to the Hebrew Ulpan, participants will have the opportunity to engage in a variety of educational seminars that tackle the key issues that any participant on a long-term program in Israel should consider. These may include such topics as: History of Israel, Overview of Israeli Political System, Religion and State, Understanding the Conflict, The People of Israel, Israeli Culture and more.
Siyurim and Tiyulim
One of the highlights of the WUJS program is the field trips that take place every Tuesday. This is an opportunity to take a break from the week's routine and get out and about seeing Israel through your own eyes and feet. The field trips are based on a variety of topics and can take you to somewhere local in the city of Jerusalem or beyond and into the country at large. Previous field trips have included: The Old City of Jerusalem, Yemin Moshe and Rechavia, Neot Kedumim, Neve Tzedek in Tel-Aviv, Sderot, Yad Vashem, Rosh Haayin, Kibbutz Metzer and many, many more.
In addition there are three hikes that take place during the course of the program. One in the North of the country, one in the Judaean Desert and the Dead Sea and one in the Arava that is situated in the South of the country and involves a Shabbat experience at Kibbutz Ketura. The tiyulim to the North of the country and the Arava are overnight.
Typical Week for WUJS Jerusalem Learning during Pardes learning period
||Foundations of Judaism Track
||Hebrew activity followed by WUJS group meeting
||Foundations of Judaism Track
||Free Weekend - why not go on a camping trip with friends to the Golan Heights
||Free Weekend - why not have a cultural weekend visiting Jersualem 'off the beaten track'
||Siyur (field trip) may run until late
|Social Justice Track
|Self, Soul and Text Track
|Self, Soul and Text Track
|Social Justice Track
||Optional WUJS group activity
Beyond the Classroom
One of the greatest advantages of spending six months in Jerusalem is the opportunity to experience Judaism. Explore the options, feel the fervor, learn and encounter Judaism as you never have before. WUJS, as part Young Judaea/FZY Israel programs, is a Jewish pluralist program; whether you are Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist or non-affiliated, you will be given your space to express your Judaism in your way.
Beyond the classroom and the siyur (field trip), participants on the Jerusalem Learning program will have the option of participating in a variety in informal educational and cultural activities that primarily take place in the evenings. These may include: Israeli film night, going to an international soccer match, visiting a new bar in the German Colony, going to a political rally, meeting an environmental lobby, going to a concert and much more. In addition, during free time, participants can enjoy all the wonderful cultural and social opportunities that Jerusalem has to offer.
The WUJS Israel program arranges for students to be "adopted" by a family in Jerusalem. This provides a home away from home and an opportunity to get to know an Israeli family. These families are often immigrants themselves from around the world. It can be a way of practicing Hebrew and discovering Jerusalem from a different angle. While this is not a compulsory part of the program, experience has proven that life-long relationships can be formed between students and local families.
The weekends are often one of the highlights of the program as participants have the time to get out and about exploring the country from north to south. All WUJS participants have the luxury of using our tiyul (hiking) consultant who will help you to plan your treks around Israel and even provide you with maps, tents and gas burners.
There are a number of group Shabbatot weekends over the course of the program in Jerusalem. Each Shabbat can be meaningful in its own way either due to a new and interesting encounter or simply because of the unique atmosphere that each Shabbat brings. Just be ready to be spiritually uplifted in some way.
All participants on the Jerusalem Learning program receive accommodation in apartments within the city of Jerusalem. The apartments are situated in the Baka neighborhood conveniently situated close to the trendy Emek Refaim and a short ride away from downtown Jerusalem. The area provides easy access to all of Jerusalem's highlights including restaurants, cafes, bars, museums, theaters and more. Each apartment is equipped with beds, closets, sofas, table and chairs. In addition the kitchen is supplied with a toaster oven, electric stove, refrigerator, freezer and all necessary cooking utensils.
Getting Around the City
As anyone who lives in Jerusalem will tell you the most enjoyable way to get around the city is on foot. However, just in case, participants will also be provided with monthly bus passes that allow you to get around the city freely using the vast public transportation system.
Apply now to secure your place on WUJS Israel