With classes done and finals over, students and faculty at The Jewish Theological Seminary take off for a summer of traveling, camping, researching, teaching, volunteering, interning, writing, working in synagogues and community service organizations, and generally taking on leadership roles in Jewish communities around the globe . . . or do they? For many JTS students, that is precisely the plan, and they return in the fall to add their newest skills and insights to the dynamic JTS mix. Yet still other equally dedicated students choose to remain at JTS—joined by eager scholars and students from schools around the country—to kick off the single most vibrant, Jewish, summer-in-the-city experience available in New York.
Each summer semester, JTS—Conservative Judaism’s preeminent spiritual and academic center— opens its doors to students, distance learners, educators, and professionals who want to enhance their leadership and management skills; become more proficient in Hebrew; study in a pluralistic Jewish environment; or simply jump-start, fast-forward, expand, or continue their Jewish and educational studies. Together with JTS’s world-renowned faculty, the students partake in Summer Session classes and programs, and social and religious gatherings.
Summer Sessions, Pre-college, and Professional Programs
Over the summer months, JTS—which encompasses a world-class library and five schools, including the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies (undergraduate), The Graduate School, William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education, The Rabbinical School, and the H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music—offers a rich balance of Judaic study and exploration, Hebrew language arts, Jewish community, and opportunities for personal spiritual growth. Summer classes at JTS are not remedial: they uphold the same high, academic and religious standards set by more than 120 years of JTS history and tradition.
There are three Summer Sessions at JTS: Session One, from May 19 to June 6, is for undergrads only; Session Two from May 27 to June 26 and Session Three from July 1 to July 31 are open to undergrads and graduate-level students alike. Summer classes allow students to earn academic credits toward their degrees, master new skills, expand their intellectual curiosity, conduct research in The Library (which contains the largest collection of rare and historical Judaica in the Western Hemisphere), take advantage of JTS’s computer lab, mingle with faculty, and explore New York City.
Classes also include the Intensive Hebrew Language Session from May 27 to July 31, which is a graduate-level program that enables students to continue to gain facility with grammar and reading comprehension. Qualified day school teachers and graduate students may enroll in the Ivriyon Hebrew Immersion Program that runs from June 30 to July 25 and is sponsored by The Davidson School and the Hebrew Department of JTS. Ivriyon teaches educators how to create a Hebrew classroom environment, lead discussions in Hebrew, write grammatically correct exercises and instructions, help students express themselves in Hebrew, and converse comfortably with their Israeli colleagues.
Pre-college and professional experiences are also available at JTS. Interested high school students can enroll in the month-long Summer in the City program, cosponsored by List College and United Synagogue Youth (USY), and engage in secular studies (literature, film, law, psychology, the environment, and more) at Barnard College and Jewish studies at JTS. In addition, they also explore JTS’s historical campus, the New York art scene, and the greater Jewish community.
The Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI) is a fifteen-month program that consists of two consecutive summer institutes, with three retreats during the intervening year. The curriculum examines the central issues of Jewish day schools, focusing on Judaism, education, and leadership. The fellows and their mentors explore personal leadership style, visions of educational leadership, collaborative and collegial school culture, development, marketing, budget and finance, strategic planning, and more.
The Leadership Institute for Congregational School Educators (LICSE) is a two-and-a-half year, joint program of Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion and The Jewish Theological Seminary; the project is funded by UJA-Federation of New York. LICSE is open to qualified candidates from all denominations in New York, and offers congregational school educators the opportunity to expand their leadership capacity, pedagogic skills, and Judaic knowledge, and help grow their synagogues.
DSLTI and LICSE will both feature trainings by JTS alumna Naomi Less, who is lead consultant on the Addressing the Evaded Curriculum Project. The Evaded Curriculum Project is a groundbreaking program that focuses on developmental issues rarely discussed in Jewish schools, and is managed by assistant professor Dr. Shira Epstein of The Davidson School.
The Spiegel Institute Summer Seminar [June 15 to June 20; named for the late JTS teacher Shalom Spiegel (1899–1984), one of the greatest scholars of Judaica of his generation and a leading expert in Medieval Hebrew literature] is a one-week intensive seminar for graduate students that will feature JTS’s Dr. Raymond Scheindlin and various guest lecturers exploring the intricacies of Medieval Hebrew poetry. The curriculum will consist of three minicourses: Ibn Gabirol, the Genre of the Maqama, and Manuscripts and Paleography.
The Jewish Day School Standards and Benchmarks Project of the Melton Research Center for Jewish Education—funded by AVI CHAI—will hold its first Instructional Leadership Institute for Judaic Studies at JTS from June 29 to July 3, 2008. The goal of the Jewish Day School Standards and Benchmarks Project is to improve the teaching and learning of Tanakh in day schools through ongoing, systematic professional development for faculty and Judaic Studies leaders.
This summer’s institute is one of three that will be held throughout the 2008–2009 academic year to advance leadership skills. Attendees will learn to:
JTS’s Distance Learners come to New York City during the summer months to take a class or two out of the five courses they are required to take on campus. They reside in JTS’s Residence Halls and meet fellow students, colleagues, faculty, and the JTS community.
Please note: enrollment in all JTS summer classes and programs is limited; for qualified students it is first come, first served, so it is important to plan ahead.
JTS Summer Study/Life Balance
Since study/life balance is an important priority at JTS all year long, faculty and the various departments are right there to support students over the course of the summer.
For study, research, reflection, and personal enjoyment, nothing beats a visit to The Library of JTS, and its nearly 400,000 books, historical texts, and Judaica. Summer hours are Sunday, noon to 7:00 p.m.; Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.; and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Library’s new “Moritz Steinschneider: A Founding Father of Modern Jewish Scholarship” exhibit in the Alperin Lobby, and a facsimile exhibit of the seven-hundred-year-old Prato Haggadah (with a focus on the conservation process, on view on the fifth floor) remind students that they are literally standing in the midst of Jewish religious and academic history.
The Office of Student Life offers JTS summer students, students who are working or interning in the New York City area, and other students living in JTS housing group trips to the Monday Night Movie Festival in Bryant Park, the New York Philharmonic in Central Park, New York Yankees games, and blockbuster midnight movie nights, among other fun activities. There are Shabbat lunches and dinners, and JTS synagogue services continue on a summer schedule.
The Va’ad Gemilut Hasadim: Susan and Jack Rudin Center for Community Outreach is planning a number of community outreach opportunities this summer, including trips to the Broadway Community, Inc. Soup Kitchen (BCI), at least one of which will be alongside volunteers from the 96th Street Mosque (students, faculty, and staff will collect leftover food from the JTS Dining Hall and bring it to BCI). Members of the JTS community will also visit the Jewish Home and Hospital nursing home on the Upper West Side to help seniors celebrate Shabbat.
The JTS Dining Hall is a kosher restaurant known throughout New York City, and it is open every day through Summer Sessions from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. (breakfast) and 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (lunch). Snacks and beverages are available from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. and again from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. The JTS Dining Hall serves a dairy menu on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, and a meat menu on Wednesdays and Fridays. Vegetarian options are available each day of the week.
With advanced notice, JTS tours are available for prospective undergraduate students and parents [please contact List College Admissions at (212) 678-8832] and new graduate, rabbinical, and cantorial school students (please contact each school directly). Groups and individuals interested in an overview of JTS—its history, library, five schools, and research institutes—may contact Lindsey Cohen at email@example.com) or (212) 280-6016.
The JTS Environment
Summer at JTS always includes sprucing up for the new school year, and this summer is no exception. Among many ongoing projects is the installation of the latest in cutting-edge software, and the upgrading of JTS’s Residence Halls.
The JTS community is also welcoming its newest Bible professor, Dr. Benjamin D. Sommer (former director of the Crown Family Center for Jewish Studies at Northwestern University); the first incumbent in a new chair in Jewish Gender and Women's Studies, Stefanie Siegmund; and a new joint appointment with HUC in Israel Studies, partially funded by the Schusterman Foundation.JTS will also be wishing Chancellor Arnold Eisen good luck with his talks at the Jacobs Memorial Lecture at the New London Synagogue (July 6) and Masorti dinner (July 7) in London, and the same to Dr. Barry Holtz, JTS’s Theodore and Florence Baumritter Professor of Jewish Education, on becoming the new dean of The Davidson School. JTS will be cheering students from The Rabbinical School, who are working with Israel’s poor under the auspices of BINA; Hazzan Henry Rosenblum, who will receive the Gregor Shelkan Award for Mentoring at the sixty-first Annual Cantors Assembly Convention (June 15); and many other JTS students, faculty, and staff. The traveling JTS community will maintain its contact with JTS in New York via ongoing weekly Torah and Mishnah commentaries and Taste of Torah expositions (www.jtsa.edu/x1117.xml), JTS podcasts (http://www.jtsa.edu/Conservative_Judaism/JTS_Podcasts.xml), and the ever-newsworthy JTS website (www.jtsa.edu).