Introductory yeshiva study
CONTENTS
Rabbi Yonason Sigler, Director
Rabbi Yonason Sigler, Director

The Summer Torah Education Program was founded in 2005 to provide an authentic yeshiva learning experience for young men that cannot take off a full year to come to yeshiva, or someone who plans to attend yeshiva in the fall and wants to get a head start. 

The program is designed for someone who has not spent a significant amount of time in yeshiva (several months or more)  but has started the process of returning to observant Judaism.  Knowledge of Hebrew is not required. 

The goal of the program is to help the student significantly raise the level at which he can read and understand, on his own, the classical Jewish texts.  To accomplish this the program includes a lot of time that the student spends working one-on-one with a rabbi/tutor where he has a chance to practice reading and translating the text himself. 

There are three sessions in the summer and one session in the winter.  See the home page for the dates of the sessions.  You can attend one, two or all three sessions in the summer.  The program is specifically designed so that the material covered in one session does not overlap that covered in the other session.  In addition, it is possible - space permitting - to come for only part of a session.

STEP is affiliated with the yeshiva Machon Shlomo in Har Nof, Jerusalem.  We use the yeshiva's facilities for classes and room and board.

STEP is run by Rabbi Yonasan Sigler. Rabbi Sigler holds degrees in engineering from Princeton and MIT and worked as an aerospace engineer for NASA before coming to Jerusalem to study in yeshiva. He studied at several yeshivas including the Mir and Pressburg and received his Semichah from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. He taught Talmud at Yeshivas Midrash Shmuel and currently teaches during the regular school year at Machon Shlomo.

 

 

STEP offers you the following:

  • Classes in Talmud, Chumash (Bible), Jewish law and Jewish ethics.
  • Comfortable accommodations and home-cooked meals.
  • Small interpersonal classes.
  • A proven, effective method for teaching the beginner how to study Talmud and Mishnah and Chumash texts without translations.
  • An experienced, professional teaching staff.
  • Inspiring song-filled Shabbatonim.
  • Exciting trips to the Golan and other parts of the country.
  • The nearby Jerusalem Forest for hiking as well as other recreational outlets in the area.
  • A warm supportive environment for you to live and grow in.

About the Classes

1. Talmud tutorial

The STEP tutorial is the core of the student's study day.  The student works one-on-one with an experienced rabbi - one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon (a different rabbi in the afternoon).  The work done in the tutorial, more than anything else in the program, advances the student's ability to study Torah texts on his own.  Because he is working one-on-one, he is working at precisely his skill level whether he is a beginner or advanced.  Furthermore, the  tutorial setting allows the student to be actively involved in the learning process.  The student does all of the reading himself (as opposed to the tutor reading it to him) during the tutorial and does his best to read, translate, and explain the text.  The rabbi/tutor is there to guide and help the student without feeding him information.  

In each tutorial session the student studies a piece of text from the Talmud - typically eight to ten lines.  He reads this piece of text several times, the first time focusing on proper pronunciation, the second time on translation, and the third time on the meaning of the text.  The text that he is studying forms the basis of the Talmud class that follows the tutorial.

2. Talmud class

The Talmud class builds on the work that the student does in the tutorial.  The text that he studied in the tutorial is analyzed on a deeper level.  The goal of the Talmud class is to help the student understand the structure of the text being studied and to show the students how to carefully analyze each step of the arguments presented in the Talmud and by doing so to come to a deeper understanding of the text.

3. Halacha (twice/week)

The Halachah class focuses on practical Halachah.  Classes cover topics in Shabbos, Kashrut, and interpersonal law (eg. giving charity, honoring parents, visiting the sick, slander).

4. Topics (three/week)

Classes on various topics in Jewish thought and given by various speakers.   Students provide imput on topics to be covered.

5. Chumash/Rashi

In depth study of Chumash with the commentary of Rashi and Midrashim.

6. Pirkei Avos - Ethics of the Fathers

In each session of STEP we attempt to cover an entire chapter of Pirkei Avos - the Ethics ot the Fathers, studying one Mishnah each day.   The focus of the class is to draw from the text ideas that are relevant to our lives as Jews in today's world.  At the end of the session each student prepares a class and presents a Mishnah.

 

Typical Daily Schedule

Sunday through Thursday

7:30  Shacharis

Breakfast

9:30 - 10:30   Tutorial (Talmud)

10:30 - 11:45  Talmud Class

12:15 -1:15  Class on different topics depending on day of week (Ethics, Philosophy, Halachah)

1:15  Minchah

Lunch

2:45 - 3:45  Tutorial (Chumash, Pirkei Avos, Talmud)

4:00 - 5:00  Chumash/Rashi

5:00 - 5:30  Pirkei Avos

5:45 - 6:30  Talmud preparation

Dinner

8:30    Maariv

Friday, Shabbos - Davening but no classes

I'm not an observant Jew, does that matter?

If you are, at least, moving toward Mitzvah observance - even if it is a slow process - then you will feel comfortable at STEP.  Most, but not all, of the participants have taken on some form of Mitzvah observance before they attend the program. 

How old do you have to be?
Eighteen or older.
What's the oldest you can be?

There really is no age limit.  The range of ages of past STEP participants is between 19 and 35, with the average age being approximately 24.  However, despite the wide range of ages, there has always been a strong sense of camaraderie among the participants.

Do I have to know how to read Hebrew?
No, you don't have to have any background in Hebrew whatsoever.  We have a staff of trained tutors to help you read Hebrew and Aramaic and learn the basics of their grammars.  Whatever proficiency you can pickup, however, before attending the program will of course enhance your experience here.
I've already spent some time studying in yeshiva.  Can I attend this program?
It depends.  If you spent a few months studying texts seriously (Talmud, mishna, etc.) then our program is probably not right for you.  If, however, you attended an introductory program that emphasized learning the basics of Jewish thought and practice then our program is probably the logical next step.
How much does the program cost?

Tuition, room and board for each four week summer session is $800; for the three week winter session the fee is $600.  Neither fee includes airfare.

Are there scholarships or other financial aid?

Yes there are, particularly if you have not a done a program like this before - i.e. a several week long intro to yeshiva study program.

Can you help me with airfare?

Usually we can.  Again, if you have not a done a program of this type before there could be possibilities of travel scholarships.

Are there former students from the program that I can contact?

Yes. Send us an email and we'll send you a list of alumni references.

I'm married already.  Am I eligible?
Yes, however we won't be able to provide you with housing (but we can help you locate an apartment in the neighborhood to rent).
Will I have any time to do my own thing?

Evenings after classes are free.  Friday and Shabbos are also free.

Is it safe?
STEP is located in the neighborhood of Har Nof, which is on the western side of Jerusalem and is considered to be a safe place to live.  Also, all of our trips are to areas of the country that are considered to be safe and we do not use public transportation.  We understand the concerns of parents of students and are happy to discuss this issue with them.
I can't come for the whole program.  Is it possible to come for part of it?
If there is space at the yeshiva then it is possible. Coming at the beginning of the program would be preferable to the middle or the end.