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Letter from David Silber

Dear friend,

We will soon begin the holiday of Chanuka by lighting a single candle. Over eight days the light will grow and, as we know from the story of the Hashmonaim, the light that began with one flame can eventually illuminate the entire world. Since its founding Drisha has lit the candle, starting with small programs that have grown and continue to grow and serve as models for other institutions, bringing light to our community and the world at large.

Let me share with you some of the highlights of this past year at Drisha:

Israel Programs: New Initiatives – In addition to our two-week intensive beit midrash for young Israelis at Yemin Orde, Drisha created an immersive full-time program in Jerusalem for three weeks in Elul focused on prayer. Our participants meet monthly in Jerusalem to continue their studies together. Drisha is committed to grow our programs in Israel and to foster a discourse which reflects commitment and openness.

Summer Kollel – We had another exhilarating summer at Drisha with our June and July Kollels during which college students and recent graduates immersed themselves in Torah. Next summer we will hold a two-month kollel for men and women. We are also expanding our offerings this winter to have two week-long programs- the last week in December and the first week in January- for college students and recent graduates. We will focus our learning on “Competing Commitments: Navigating a Complex World,” inquiring into core texts on negotiating obligations in the complex reality of our lives.

Dr. Beth Samuels Summer High School Program – Students from Israel, Europe, Canada, and across the United States came together for an unparalleled opportunity to study together intensively for five weeks. Twenty-six students, our largest group so far, were participants in this transformative program, many of whose graduates occupy significant positions in education in the US and Israel.

Torah and Life’s Journey – Drisha continues to bring issues of Jewish and general concern to the community. Our Dirshu series engages such issues as mental illness, prayer, hunger, and tzeniut. Our most recent Beit Midrash for Mental Health Professionals series included rabbis and rabbinical students as well as psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers. And this fall we co-sponsored a full day seminar for congregational leaders on supporting individuals and families struggling with mental illness.

Online Learning – We have expanded our online presence, and through our podcasts, interactive learning opportunities, and live-streamed lectures and courses, our Torah has reached thousands of individuals around the globe. In our most recent series, Countdown to the Yamim Noraim, I explored core themes of the tefillot, helping listeners appreciate the High Holiday service in a deeper and more meaningful way. A series of recordings on Genesis will soon be released.

Your generous support allows us to sustain and grow our innovative programs, many of which serve as models which will be replicated by the larger Jewish community. Please click here to make an online donation.

Thank you and best wishes for a happy Chanuka.

David S. Silber