JTS Alum Receives 2016 Covenant Award

Rabbi Benay Lappe, Founder and Rosh Yeshiva of SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva, Chicago, has created an exciting paradigm in Jewish education—learning that is traditional yet radical, and extremely rigorous yet accessible. She has painted a new picture of what adult education can look like and SVARA has become a compelling model of a new kind of Jewish learning.

When Rabbi Lappe founded SVARA in 2003, its focus was on providing serious Talmud study to Jews on the margins whose outsider experience stemmed from their sexual orientation or gender identity. Today, SVARA’s approach to Jewish learning—one who foregrounds the native radicalness of the Talmud, and where everyone learns Talmud in the original Hebrew/Aramaic, even those who’ve just learned their alef-bet—speaks to a wide variety of Jews who feel that mainstream institutions and more typical approaches to adult learning are not working for them.

‘There were so many others like me—Jews on the margins who’d been told that Judaism was a take-it-or-leave-it proposition,’ she said. ‘But in the Talmud, I discovered a Judaism that offered a third alternative. What I saw the Rabbis doing was very powerful to me. I realized that the Talmud, which has been taught to only 1% of the Jewish population, needed to be taught to the other 99% and I figured out a way to do that. I was a teacher who had finally figured out what she needed to teach, whom she needed to teach, and why.'”

Continue reading “Three Jewish Educators, Leaders of Innovation and Impact in the Field, Receive the 2016 Covenant Award” on the Covenant Foundation website.