Dr. Beth Samuels High School Program

A Summer of Timeless Texts, Fresh Perspectives, New Friends:

Know someone who would love our program? Nominate her here!

June 21-July 21, 2022

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Program Overview

The Program

For over thirty years, our Beit Midrash has offered five weeks of immersive and intensive textual study, where students build both knowledge and friendship over a shared passion for intellectually engaged and spiritually rich Torah study.

Students have the opportunity to learn with top educators and scholars and engage in serious study of Jewish texts beyond the scope of a high school classroom. They will develop the ability to analyze these essential texts, be challenged to ask questions and be active participants in thought-provoking discussions. In the evenings, students will have the opportunity to explore questions that speak to their personal interests. Afternoons, nights and weekends feature good old campy fun like bonfires, swimming, ropes course and field trips.

Our Students

Young women come from across the world to learn Torah in our Beit Midrash. During the year they are students in Yeshiva day schools, Jewish community schools, public schools, private schools and homeschooling. Some of our students come with strong backgrounds in Talmud and are looking for an immersive environment that will push their learning and skills forward. Other students enter our beit midrash excited to learn Talmud for the very first time. Our diverse community builds deep bonds of friendship over a shared love of Torah study and passion for ideas in an environment that encourages everyone to be their most authentic self. In addition to loving Torah, our students are kind, curious, motivated and independent.

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“It’s a great community to learn in. I learned so much and had a lot of fun.”
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“This last month has truly been an incredible experience. I feel like I've grown a lot, and learned so much from all of my teachers, madrichot, and peers. The community we built here is so beautiful, and has shown me that it is possible to exist in a space that both values Judaism immensely, and also holds values that align with mine.”
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“I really loved all the people here and the community in general. Everyone was so nice and there was an atmosphere where everyone really motivated each other to learn.”

Tuition

All of our students receive a substantial subsidy covering most of their tuition. We ask families to contribute $1,800 towards program costs. Scholarship is available upon request.

Application Process

To apply to the Dr. Beth Samuels Drisha Summer High School Program, students submit applications as well as two reference forms from teachers. Qualified applicants will be invited to interview with the program director. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until March 15, 2022, and after that time applications will be considered only if space remains.

Venue

The Dr. Beth Samuels Drisha Summer High School Program is located at the Labadorf center in West Milford, NJ. While our program runs in a private space, its location within the Hands In 4 Youth campus gives our program access to their lake, ball fields, ropes course, hikes and medical staff. Labadorf boasts a spacious Beit Midrash, two classrooms, our own commercial sized kitchen, a loft and porch for relaxing, and dorm-style bedrooms for the students. Our venue offers students the exceptionally rare opportunity of living mere steps away from their Beit Midrash.

Schedule, Activities, and More

At Drisha, we view Tefillah as a core feature of every learning environment. Over the course of the summer, our students will experiment with different ways of connecting to the siddur, through communal Tefillah in our beit midrash, individual Tefillah in nature, song, meditation, journaling, text study and more.

"The Tefillah this summer was inspiring and introduced me to new ways of connecting to Hashem. I loved watching my friends lead the Kehilah, often for the first time. The various options also gave everyone flexibility and allowed for more exploration of the meaning of Tefillah."

Two and a half hours each morning are divided up into havruta time and class time as students study yeshiva-style Talmud and commentators under the guidance of master educators. These classes are divided up by level and learning style, ensuring that all students are in environments where they will grow. Morning seder is the heart of our program, offering high school students unparalleled Talmud immersion.

“I really liked the in depth learning that we did. We didn’t just look at the Gemara, we looked at other commentators, rishonim, and other historical sources. We also learned about the different styles of learning Talmud.”

In these fast-paced courses, students will complete either a short tractate of the Talmud or a book of Nakh over the course of our program. Bekiut style learning prizes breadth over depth, so students are exposed to a wide array of concepts and ideas. This style of learning gives students a rewarding sense of accomplishment in their learning and is also a skillset useful for gaining a wide perspective on the Jewish library.

"I really liked my bekiut class. We discussed meaningful topics while still learning at a fast pace. The class was very high energy and a great environment to learn in.”

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“We were given space to explore ideas from the mishnah, gemara, and rishonim on our own, and it was gratifying to figure out complex parts of the talmud in chavruta or in shiur. ”

In the early afternoon, after a leisurely lunch and break, we take advantage of our camp environment, go outside and get active. Afternoon activities include options like gaga, swimming, archery, kickball, a water fight or ropes course.

Each week students are offered a different set of electives on topics of Tanakh, Midrash, Halakhah and Jewish History with some of Drisha’s most beloved faculty and experts in the field. The Afternoon Elective program makes each week different from the last and also exposes our students to a wide variety of topics and faculty.

In Summer 2021, our Afternoon Electives featured the following classes:

  • The Critique of the Temple in the Prophets
  • It’s Not Just Talmud! Exploring the Midrash on Mitzvat Lulav
  • Jacob & Israel
  • Mourning Loss, Finding Meaning in Destruction
  • Preparing for Tisha B'av - A Look At The Biblical Narrative
  • Autobiographical Torah
  • Elisha ben Abuyah: The High Road to Heresy
  • Being a Good Person: Halakha and Ethics

“I loved picking afternoon seder and learning about such a wide range of aspects of Judaism.”

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“Drisha V’Chakira allowed me to pursue topics that I was personally interested in while aided by the incredible resources at hand: my teachers, madrichot, the library, and my own peers.”

Three nights a week, students are given the opportunity to try their hand at Torah research and writing. Each student selects a question, and her research and writing is guided by her own interests and supported by faculty and staff. In 2021, students explored abortion in Jewish law, the relationship between Joseph and his brothers, playing organized sports on Shabbat, Jewish weddings, Spanish-Portuguese customs and more.

“I loved learning about something I thought I really knew, but that was way more complex than I thought.”

On Thursday nights, students gather in the Beit Midrash and hold a public debate. The proposition is determined by a faculty member who also furnishes source material. Students speak for three minutes each, either in favor of or against the proposition. For many students, this is their first experience with extemporaneous speaking or public debate, and our program’s supportive atmosphere provides a gentle and empowering entry to this life-skill. The Debate Midrash concludes with a vote.

 

“My favorite program was definitely Debate Midrash because I loved the friendly competition involved.”

Following our night time educational programming, students have free time until curfew. The Madrichot organize fun optional activities at these times like improv activities, flashlight tag, bonfires, talent shows, paint nights and more. Students also use this time for continued independent learning in the Beit Midrash.

Prepare to add unmatched to your summer.

Shabbat preparations begin Thursday night with challah baking, Mishmar and a late night tisch. On Friday, in addition to regular classes, we prepare our space for Shabbat: constructing our eruv, decorating our space, setting the tables and writing shabbat-o-grams. Shabbat begins with students reading Song of Songs and a gorgeous student-led Kabbalat Shabbat. Dinner is accompanied by a Dvar Torah and followed by a student-led tisch. Shabbat morning features communal Tefillah, a shiur at Kiddush, and free time before lunch. The long summer afternoon has plenty of time for rest, affinity group meetings and more learning opportunities before and after Seudah Shlishit.

Three delicious and healthy meals as well as snacks are served each day out of our private on-site kosher kitchen. Our kitchen staff accommodate all the food needs of our students and faculty, accounting for allergies, gluten intolerance, veganism, etc. Students may bring hechshered snacks with them, but they must be kept in closed, labelled containers in the kitchenette. No food or drinks other than water can be stored in student rooms.

Questions?

If you have questions about the Dr. Beth Samuels High School Program, including but not limited to concerns about student accommodations, please feel free to reach out to our director, Rabbanit Leah Sarna, or Drisha’s American office.

Drisha Scholar, Mathematician
Beloved Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister and Friend
March 24, 1975 – January 5, 2007

Dr. Beth Samuels z"l

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