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Sinai Scholars Society

"Think Jewish: Jewish Wisdom for Modern Life"

Click here to see an overview of the Spring 2019 discussions

Program meets Wednesdays 7:30-9:30pm starting Feb. 6th

Apply Here

 

A Jewish Educational Experience

Do you enjoy fun and lively conversations?

Do you want to challenge the status quo?

Do you have questions about Judaism that are important to discuss?

Do you want to discover how Judaism is relevant and forward-thinking?

Do you want to join a warm community?

Then join the club! Sinai Scholars is for you! This learning experience is different from any class you have ever attended!

Sinai Scholars is not a series of lectures; it is a series of interactive discussions. It is not a repeat of what you experienced in Hebrew school; it is fun, stimulating, deep, and relevant. It is not a time to listen; it’s a time to question. It is not geared to tell you what to think; it provides an opportunity to explore Judaism’s rich heritage at your own pace with you in the driver’s seat.

Sinai Scholars is a platform upon which participants explore central elements of Judaism that are relevant, interesting, and empowering for all Jews, irrespective of background, education, and level of commitment. By the end of this journey, you will have a richer appreciation for some of the core elements of Jewish heritage and Jewish identity, along with a deeper understanding about how these interface with modern life.

Cost of the program is $250. You can choose a scholarship. If you complete the program requirements  you receive a $350 stipend. Sessions are 2 hours weekly with the option of writing a 5 page research paper, conducting Jewish leadership interviews with Jewish leaders, or leading a discussion group with your friends. A group field trip to NY on a Sunday. 

For more information contact student coordinator  Annabel Singer at annabels@sas.upenn.edu

 

 Apply here: www.SinaiScholars.com

Coming back for more? take a look at Sinai Plus

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Recent participants reflect:

 

My time participating in the Sinai Scholars program was more enjoyable than I could have imagined. I was hesitant at first to join the program only because I had to juggle multiple other classes and clubs.  …The intimate conversation setting acted as a cathartic time to cleanse my mind of all of the other academic pursuits of my week and entertain concepts, lessons, and values that were totally unrelated to anything else I was working on.  Sinai Scholars became my getaway.  The topics we discussed were all interesting and nothing was off the table.  All my questions that I thought of were either answered, or, as I found, aren’t really answerable.  This isn’t to say that no one knew the answer, rather that the answer wasn’t really important.  This idea showed me that, many times, the route to the answer is more important than the answer itself.  The discourse and conversations had over dinner each Wednesday, and the differing opinions were a breath of fresh air.  I appreciate the time that we got to spend together and how much we grew as a group.  From the first lesson through to the last, the relationships we created were quite enjoyable and I appreciated the chance to meet new people, make new friends, and enjoy new ideas. I want to personally thank Alex for convincing me to participate in the entire program. Without their pushing me to enroll, I might not have been able to learn all that I did, and to meet the people that I did during this class. 

 

-Danny Klyde

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…I am extraordinarily grateful to have done the program, especially to have done it in my sophomore spring semester. I look forward to bringing the lessons, ideas, and community into my remaining years at Penn and into my adult life.

…From the first lesson in Sinai Scholars, and learning with a diverse group of Jewish students, I realized that it didn’t matter if grew up as This Jew or That Jew, nor how I labelled myself. Sinai Scholars helped me depart from that mindset and instead focus on Jewish living, and being an active member in the community.

…Ultimately, participating in the program helped me understand that it is possible to make Jewish living a part of my life now and going forward.

-Elana Fortson

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…The program ended up exceeding my expectations. I not only learned valuable lessons from the Rabbi and the book, but also from my fellow participants. The other students were able to show me how they fit Judaism into their lives. This made it easier for me to picture doing the same in the future.

After each lesson, I came out understanding a little better about how Jews view the world and certain issues….

Sinai Scholars made me think critically about modern day issues that apply to my life and beyond. As one of my fellow participants said, I can now look at things in my life through a “Jewish lens”. This will help me make decisions based on the values and beliefs with which I most identify.

-Paige Gugerty

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 “...Having gone to Jewish day school my entire life, I had experience with many of the topics that were discussed during our sessions… Sinai Scholars offered new perspectives on many of the topics I had discussed previously. The group we participated in was small, so it allowed for everyone to fully participate in the conversation. People had different perspectives on the issues and I really enjoyed gaining new insights into Jewish topics that were relevant to my life, such as marriage. Overall, I am extremely happy I participated in Sinai Scholars.

-Alex Cohn

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We were presented with various real world scenarios and ways that Jewish teaching can relate to the complexities of the modern world. The way that we can interpret and use these historic teachings in the present day continues to astonish me. We went over various topics that are germane in the world we live in now, and I will likely remember many of the conversations we had… One class in particular that I remember was the moral dilemma situation. We were presented with various situations that apply to modern life, including autonomous vehicles, and discussed the ethics behind the machine’s decision making process. It was interesting to discuss the Jewish thought behind passive and active measures that either contributed—or took away— life. In the future, as autonomous vehicles become more commonplace, it will be interesting to see whether religious ethics play a role in determining the programming of these vehicles…I hope to use the information I gained from the Sinai Scholars classes more often in my life, and to overall gain a deeper understanding on the meaning of life. 

 

- Daniel Khazen

 

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      Being a part of the Sinai Scholars program this semester with Rabbi Levi was an absolute pleasure. At first, dedicating my Monday nights to an elective program seemed like a regrettable choice. However, by the end of the first session I knew that I had made a great decision. Learning about Jewish identity, history, customs, and unique viewpoints with a group of like minded students who were just as interested as I was in the subject matter was extremely rewarding. Though I am someone deeply involved in the Jewish community at Penn and decently observant religiously, the Sinai Scholars program itself and the guidance of Rabbi Levi led me to connect even deeper with my own Jewish identity and helped me solidify and clarify various questions I had about my place within our religion and culture.  I specifically really enjoyed the segment where we talked about the difference between finding meaning and purpose in life, as well as our discussion about marriage in Judaism, an especially hot button issue. Moving forward I hope to continue to use Rabbi Levi as an outlet for any questions I may have about Judaism, as asking thoughtful questions was a crucial component of the program. I highly recommend Sinai Scholars to any Jewish person on campus who is interested about learning more about themselves and their heritage.  -Jesse Roth, C'17

 

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            Prior to taking the Sinai Scholars course, I knew little about core Jewish principles and how these teachings are relevant in modern society. What does it mean to have a strong Jewish identity and be part of the global Jewish ‘tribe’?  Why is it important to marry Jewish?  What is the meaning of Tzedakah, and why is it not synonymous with charity?  While some of these questions were not originally questions I had thought of asking, my Sinai Scholars course answered them and more. In this way, I was challenged to expand the scope of my curiosity and was intellectually and spiritually stimulated while learning about regular Jewish practices such as keeping Shabbat. Perhaps the most beautiful takeaway from this program is that the more I learned, the more I questioned. I still continue to question. Thus, Sinai Scholars has inspired me to continue studying Judaic principles to seek additional answers to concepts that our group touched on but did not go into great detail about.   -Danielle Collins C'20

 

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What members of Spring 2015 have said about the program:

 

"I was particularly pleased by how well our discussions fit into some of the other courses I was taking this semester, including bioethics and psychology…it felt like an enjoyable extracurricular activity rather than a true course; I looked forward to coming each week”.

--Rachel

 

"Sinai Scholars gave me a moral ground on uncertain topics and provided a meditative space to get away from a stressful environment."

--David

 

"I looked forward to our lively dinners and discussions on Monday evenings."

--Sophia

Despite the sometimes intense and controversial discussions, I felt that the learning environment was quite casual and enabled every student to participate as much as he or she desired."

--Rachel

"My initial reservations of not feeling 'Jewish enough' or simply unprepared for the complexity of the topics were quickly alleviated… After completing the course, I feel much more in touch with my religion and have a deeper understanding of its significance in so many parts of my life."

—Margaux

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View photos of past participants and the field trip

Read how a past participant describes the program