Learning Opportunities

Jewish Learning Fellowship

Spring Quarter 2019

Jewish Learning Fellowship provides a semester of intellectual and experiential learning for students looking to deepen their understanding of Judaism. This quarter we are offering Life's Big Questions: Or, How to Get More Out of College.
We make no claims about the “right” way to practice or not to practice Judaism. Our job is to help you explore the tradition in a safe space, and find your own place, on your terms, Jewishly.
JLF meets once a week on Tuesday evenings, from 5:30pm until 7:00pm. We’ll feed you. You have to eat sometime, right? Additionally, fellows earn a $300 stipend at the end of the semester.
JLF is run by Hillel at Stanford: We are a pluralistic, non-denominational organization. That means that we don't believe that there is just "one right way to be Jewish" - the goal of JLF isn't to make you "more religious" or "less religious," but to give you a space to explore what being Jewish could mean to you with a community of interesting and fun people. Put simply, we want you to ask “big questions” about being Jewish, not give you “big answers.”

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, to register your interest, fill out the application here. Interested in the fellowship but want to learn more? Contact us here and a Hillel staff member will follow up with you. 

Jewish Learning Fellowship FAQ

What is the application process?

Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis until spaces are filled. If we need to clarify anything from your application, we will contact you via email to schedule an in-person or Zoom interview.

I have never done any Jewish learning. Will I be able to keep up?

Yes! Texts are provided in English and the Jewish Learning Fellowship does not assume you have any familiarity with Hebrew. Any Hebrew terms will be translated and explained.

Who is teaching?

Rabbi Evelyn Baz, Hillel’s Rabbi, as well as Jason Kuperberg, Hillel’s Springboard Fellow.

Where does it meet?

In Rimon, upstairs at the Koret Pavilion, 564 O’Connor Lane. The newer building at Hillel.

I attended Jewish day school and/or yeshiva. Will I be bored?

The aim of the Jewish learning Fellowship is that you integrate Jewish wisdom into your life as an adult. Texts will be provided in Hebrew as well as English, and if you can understand Hebrew you will be encouraged to flex your Hebrew muscles and share insights from reading the texts in the original language. You likely will have encountered some of the texts we study in other settings. We guarantee that you haven’t encountered them in this way before: at Stanford, in a class of peers, dedicated to asking deep questions and integrating the wisdom you gain into your life.

Is the Jewish Learning Fellowship an Introduction to Judaism course?

A typical introduction to Judaism course covers things like explaining the basics of Jewish observances and practices, theology and history. The Jewish Learning Fellowship is about learning the Jewish perspective on life’s ultimate questions, integrating them and figuring out how they inform your life. At the same time, this course is intentionally accessible to a range of Jewish experience and educational backgrounds by providing English translations and explaining Hebrew terms.

Do I get credit?

The Jewish Learning Fellowship is not for credit. You do get a delicious dinner, conversation about things that matter, a diverse cohort of similarly committed students and a $300 stipend.

What are the requirements for the stipend?

  • Attend all 10 sessions (Tuesdays, 5:30-7:00 PM): January 8, January 15, January 22, January 29, February 5, February 12, February 19, February 26, March 5, March 12

  • Attend Shabbat experience with JLF on Friday, January 25 from 6pm-9pm

  • Recommend two or more friends for the following JLF quarter cohort.

Are there future cohorts of JLF planned?

Yes. JLF will be offered in Spring on Mondays from 5:30-7:00.

Am I eligible if I completed JLF previously?

If you were a Jewish Learning Fellow in 2017-2018, you are eligible to be a Fellow once in 2018-2019; you may join either the Winter or the Spring cohort, but not both.

How Jewish do I need to be?

The Jewish Learning Fellowship is for people who identify as Jewish. There are a wide range of interpretations across the Jewish world as to who is considered part of the Jewish tribe; this program does not distinguish between those interpretations. If you identify as Jewish, this is for you.

I’m interested in learning more about Jews and Judaism, but I’m from another faith background. Is this right for me?

The Jewish Learning Fellowship is for Jewish students to grow in their identity, practice and spirituality. If you are interested in learning more about Judaism more generally, we recommend taking JST215 Understanding Jews.

I am interested in converting to Judaism. Can I participate in JLF?

Candidates for conversion to Judaism typically take a course of study to prepare to live a Jewish life. It could be that the Jewish Learning Fellowship is right for you, but it will depend on what learning you have already done. Please submit an application and be sure to note that you are interested in participating in the fellowship as a path to conversion. A member of the Hillel team will contact you to schedule an interview. Please note that in order to be received as a sincere convert, one cannot have received any financial benefit. To satisfy conversion requirements, prospective converts will not receive a stipend for participating in the Jewish Learning Fellowship.

What are the topics and what will I learn?

Week 1 January 8: Why Learn? On the Power and Practice of Learning

Is it important to make time for learning? Are there differences between academic learning, Jewish learning and life learning? How do we see ourselves as learners and what do we need to get the most out of our respective learning environments? What motivated you to be a part of this fellowship, where one of the only prerequisites is a desire to learn Jewish sources, learn about yourself, and your peers?

Week 2 January 15: How Big is Your Story?

In what way does personal history become collective history? Can history “make a claim” on us? What is your story?

Week 3 January 22: Community of Memory vs. Lifestyle Enclave?

Why do we create community? And why Jewish community? Why and how do we choose to be a part of it? What is the difference between a community, a group of friends and a social network? What makes a community a community?

Shabbat experience, Friday night January 25: The Sabbath: A Practice for Rest

How might we interact with the idea of a Sabbath as college students? Is Shabbat, as a time of rest, inherently counter-cultural? Or could it support us holistically in our modern lifestyles and pursuits? How can the essence of Shabbat help us create a “rest practice” in our modern lives?

Week 4 January 29: Friendship, Honesty, and Betrayal

What are the challenges and opportunities of a deep friendship? What are necessary qualities in a good friend and what qualities do you want to emulate as a good friend?  What are the disqualifying qualities in a good friend? What role does honesty play in friendship?

Week 5 February 5: The Temporary Home: The Opportunities of Vulnerability and Impermanence

What is the difference between being at home and having a home in the world? Where do you feel most at home? How do you define home at various stages in your life? Is it important to have a home? What opportunities for personal growth do we encounter when we embrace vulnerability and impermanence as a natural part of life?

Week 6 February 12: How Do We Disagree?

How do we disagree and engage in conflict? Can conflict be productive? What is the role of healthy vs. unhealthy disagreement and how do we engage in it rather than withdraw from it? Can disagreement serve as a critical part of uncovering truth?

Week 7 February 19: The Art of Collaboration

Is collaboration important? What are the ingredients of a good partnership or collaboration, and how do we cultivate it? Does entering into authentic collaboration have the potential to change us, and how do fully offer our talents and “get out of our own way” when collaborating? Is the end product/result better when we collaborate or work alone?

Week 8 February 26: Continuing to Learn while Living the Questions

How can we encounter big questions, serious internal ambiguity, or wrestle with fundamental ideas and concepts, and still continue to learn and grow? How can we live out our lives with new questions, even if we don’t yet have the answers we desire? What is the value in uncertainty? How do we go about sitting or struggling with not knowing?

Week 9 March 5: Infrequently Asked Questions & Saying Goodbye

What are the questions you’ve never had a chance to ask? How do we say goodbye to one another in a way that honors the time we have spent together?

Week 10 / Dead Week March 12: JLF Commencement


My Search for Meaning:  The My Search for Meaning series presents a great opportunity for students to interact with Stanford faculty with a connection to Judaism. Faculty who wish to share their reflections and insights with students are invited to join the Hillel community for small lunch gatherings at Hillel where they have the chance to share their thoughts about life and meaning. Featured faculty at these events range from artistic scholars such as Professor Mark Applebaum to renowned scientists such as Professor Robert Sapolsky. MsM gatherings offer an intellectually stimulating and enriching experience, a rare opportunity to interact with faculty outside the classroom, and a chance to reflect and learn from teachers with a connection to Hillel on the Farm.

Advanced Talmud, Thursdays 7-9pm - Join us for readings of the talmudic texts! The ongoing seminar is designed to study the making of the talmudic sugya (unit of discourse), along with classic commentaries. Students will consider some of the recent developments in the academic study of Talmudic literature. The goal of the seminar is to provide Stanford students and faculty with the opportunity to engage in regular Talmud study, and to be introduced to a variety of approaches to studying Talmudic texts. All levels are welcome!

Jewish Incubator Fellowship initiatives continue to reflect interests around Jewish learning. If you have an idea for Jewish learning of any kind not reflected in the opportunities above, contact Lia Nilson at lnilson@stanford.edu to discuss and develop your idea with the support of the Jewish Incubator Fellowship.

Studying Abroad? Hillel partners with
Kahal: Your Jewish Home Abroad in dozens of cities around the globe. Whether it's a passover seder in Sevilla, Shabbat in Sydney, or just cool Jewish cultural resources wherever you are going, check them out and be amazed.

Taube Center for Jewish Studies at StanfordThe Taube Center for Jewish Studies offers an interdisciplinary program for the study and understanding of Jewish cultures, literatures, languages, religion, politics, and history. Educational activities include a rich menu of courses, an undergraduate major and minor, an ongoing colloquium on Jews, Judaism and Jewish culture geared toward graduate students, and graduate fellowship and other kinds of support to help develop the next generation of Jewish Studies scholars. 

And more! As many prominent scholars from various institutions travel though the area of Stanford, we are able to capitalize on their travel and have special learning events with them. We have hosted scholars from Pardes, the Shalom Hartman Institute, Bar Ilan University, and The University of Chicago, among others. Fun things like this are always popping up at Hillel@Stanford, so stay in the know by liking us on facebook! 


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Taube Hillel House & Koret Pavilion at the Ziff Center for Jewish Life
565 Mayfield Avenue
Stanford, CA 94305-8456
(650) 723-1602