Beit Midrash Program at Rutgers Hillel

By Joshua Blachorsky ‘15

After spending two years in an intensive yeshiva program in Israel, I knew that what I wanted out of my Rutgers experience was not only a high-level secular college education, but a high-level Jewish learning component as well. Jewish students at Rutgers engage in the in-depth study of liberal arts and sciences, and we wanted to be able to have the same level of Jewish study. We also wanted to broaden the Jewish dialogue on campus. That is why when I, along with several of my friends, saw an opportunity to create a Rutgers University Beit Midrash Program at Rutgers Hillel, we jumped at it. A “Beit Midrash” is traditionally a place for the study of Jewish texts. (Please like us on Facebook!)

Learning Torah has always been a core component of Jewish identity and existence, not only as a people but also as a culture and a religion. Wherever we have gone as a nation, the Torah has gone with us, and New Brunswick, NJ should certainly be no exception.

So it is very inspiring to see Jewish students on our campus who, having worked and attended classes all day just like everyone else, recognize a higher calling and make a commitment to strengthen their Jewish education. Each night, every day of the week, between the hours of 9 and 11pm, students come in and out of our small Beit Midrash for a “Seder Erev” (evening learning session) to learn more about Judaism, to learn Torah, to broaden and explore their Jewish identity and to deepen and make lasting connections to their Judaism.

The Beit Midrash Program adds, in my opinion, something invaluable to our Hillel. While there is always a multitude of wonderful programming taking place, our Hillel is undoubtedly strengthened by students coming in and connecting to our 2,000 year heritage through study.  Rabbi Akiva Weiss, Rutgers Hillel’s OU-JLIC Rabbi, has been an invaluable asset in helping us start this program. On top of his busy schedule, he is in our Beit Midrash every night from 9-11 to help, to answer questions, to give Shiurim (classes) and to teach one-on-one lessons. I know that without him and his wife Nataly (who is there Tuesday nights for special targeted women’s nights of learning), the feeling of the Beit Midrash would be very different.  The partnership between the OU and Rutgers Hillel is a tremendously beneficial component of our overall program and community.

We are also very proud to have a new partnership with the Center for Torah Leadership and Yeshivat Har Etzion in Israel. There are currently eight bogrim (alumni) of the Har Etzion Yeshiva studying here at Rutgers and to help foster greater Jewish learning and build our community we have received a grant from them to help supplement our programming. Currently, every Saturday night there is pizza sponsored by the CTL for all those who are learning with us in the Beit Midrash. They have been extremely generous and helpful and we are very grateful.

I know without the Beit Midrash, my Hillel experience and my religious experience wouldn’t be complete and it’s wonderful that Hillel has been so supportive.

Joshua Blachorsky '15 and Arie Schwartz '17 Learning together in the Beit Midrash at Rutgers Hillel

Joshua Blachorsky ’15 and Arie Schwartz ’17
Learning together in the Beit Midrash at Rutgers Hillel

JLIC is an OU Program in Partnership with Hillel

Help students like Joshua continue to explore their passions through programs like the RU Beit Midrash.  Rutgers Hillel encourages our students to build Jewish community by organizing events focused on their own interests.

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