Memories of taking a whole year to study at seminary in Israel, to use a cliche, last a lifetime. Whether it is the foundations that a young woman garnered from learning Torah, the friendships that she made with other individuals during her year abroad, or the challenges that she faced while grappling with the intense details of her religion, Seminary studies tend to be among some of the most formative religious processes that young Jewish women encounter.
But what if, like me, you’ve been caught in the hustle and bustle of a work week? You come home after a day of meetings and phone calls, and you’re faced with a new set of tasks: paying bills, cooking, and (although luckily I’m not yet in this position), taking care of a family. The only “me” time I get during the day is on my commute, when I might be lucky enough to read some of the book that I’ve been pouring over for the last three months. Life is simply hectic, and when it isn’t hectic, it’s time to rest.
Sometimes, learning Torah is put on the backburner. I have so many friends who have never taken a year to study in seminary in the first place, but still yearn to learn on their own time. Luckily, we’re about to have a solution. Doctor Chavi Goldberg, a native of Toronto, was studying for her Masters when she realized that there were vast opportunities for online education — except no possible way for a woman to learn Torah. When she began studying for her doctorate in Education from Nova Southeastern University, she began to devote her time to changing this situation. The result was CyberSem — a virtual space where women can learn Torah on their own time.
Doctor Goldberg’s program differs from a traditional seminary in a few ways. First, traditional seminaries usually have a flight of students for one year (shanah aleph), and only a few decide to stay for a second (shanah bet). The program will include an ever-evolving curriculum that changes after every twelve-week cycle. Imagine a seminary that has advanced courses… imagine a seminary that continues on your own time, for however long you so desire to study.
One of the first courses being offered in CyberSem include “Hilchos Shabbas in the Kitchen,” which is perfect for any individual who is about to own her first home. It will outline the laws that govern the handling and preparing of food during Shabbas and Yontiff. Another course that stands out a bit more is “Women in Nach, Biblical Figures, Contemporary Lessons,” which allows students to draw strength from the powerful women in the Nevi’im and Ketuvim. I can just imagine what a perfect fit this class would be for a working woman in New York City, looking for some inspiration to climb the ranks in her company.
Classes will start on October 30th, and you can sign up here at http://www.cybersem.com/course/. CyberSem will be an amazing interface between a woman with a love of learning, and accredited teachers who are ready to facilitate an engaging course of study. If you are a Jewish woman, my advice would be to sign up as soon as possible!