The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) is an initiative of the orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic Jewish organization that offers adult Jewish courses on Jewish history, law, ethics, philosophy and rabbinical literature worldwide. It also develops Jewish studies curricula for women, college students, teenagers, and seniors.
In 2014, the organization claimed there were 117,500 people enrolled in JLI, making it the largest Jewish education network in the world. It was created with a mission to make the teachings, values and traditions of the Jewish people accessible and personally meaningful to all Jews, regardless of their background or affiliation. The JLI model combines a research-based approach with instructional design, aiming to present traditional Jewish teachings in a contemporary academic framework. Its headquarters are located in the Crown Heights area at Brooklyn, New York City.
JLI was founded in 1998. The first JLI course, Jewish Mysticism, was piloted at fifteen Chabad centers in 1999. The institute expanded thereafter with controlled growth, introducing the learning program to between fifteen and twenty new cities annually until 2005, when JLI added forty new cities. Since its inception in 1998, over 260,000 students have completed JLI courses, with enrollment of 12,000 to 16,000 students each semester. As of 2013 , JLI has developed forty-three separate six-week courses, the most popular of which have been on the topics of Jewish thought, law, and mysticism.
In 2005, JLI materials were translated into the first foreign language, Spanish, to serve the Jewish communities of Central and South America.
In 2011, curriculum in Hebrew was developed and piloted in ten Israeli cities. There are currently thirty JLI locations in Israel as well as classes in Hebrew throughout the world in communities with large concentrations of Israeli ex-pats.
The Russian language division was added in 2012 and currently consists of forty chapters throughout the former CIS. JLI course materials were developed in German the same year, and are taught in five cities in Germany.
As of 2013, 382 chapters in twenty-four countries and thirty-one U.S. states offer flagship JLI courses.
In 2005, JLI launched its Torah Studies division, which is currently active in 248 communities around the world, and piloted its first JLI Teens curriculum.
The Sinai Scholars Society was introduced on three college campuses in 2006 and has since expanded to seventy campuses including Ivy League, state and private universities.
On 17 August 2014, Chabad Jewish Center of Lake Tahoe celebrated their first anniversary.
Mission and educational philosophy
JLI's mission is to make the teachings, values, and traditions of Chabad Judaism accessible to every Jew, regardless of background or affiliation.
JLI inspires Jewish learning worldwide and impacts Jewish life and the community through Torah study, creating a global network of informed students connected by bonds of shared Jewish experience. JLI courses address students' multiple intelligences and diverse learning modalities, fostering personal and interpersonal growth by imparting Jewish values. Drawing on research-based instructional design, JLI's courses on Judaism are designed to be relevant to the modern adult. Their instructors offer lectures by textbooks, slide show presentations and video clips.
A network of JLI's affiliated local chapters offers courses to the Jewish communities. JLI's flagship courses consist of six weekly sessions and each class unit is taught concurrently at all of its locations.
Specific JLI courses are accredited to offer Continuing Legal Education credits by the bar associations of 31 U.S. states, in various Canadian provinces, Australia, the UK as well as The Order of Flemish Bar Associations, and South Africa's National Board of Licenses. When appropriate, JLI courses are accredited by the AMA's ACCME Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education for Continuing Medical Education credits, as well as by The Washington School of Psychiatry and The American Psychological Association.
A subsidiary of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, JLI is the adult education arm of the Chabad Lubavitch movement.
The courses are taught in Jewish communities around the world.
JLI was commissioned by the family of former Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir, to develop a series of lunch-hour educational classes for corporate offices in Israel.
In addition to the flagship course offerings, JLI has branched out to offer the following programs geared towards specific segments of the community:
The Torah Studies department develops weekly classes taught year-round on Torah portions corresponding to those read in synagogues each Sabbath. Geared towards students seeking on-going Torah study, lessons focus on relevant life issues such as personal growth, business ethics, social responsibilities, personal relationships and the environment.
JLI Teens courses make Judaism relevant to teens and aim to forge a new generation of Jewish leadership. Teens are engaged with a series of comprehensive courses on issues they contemplate and provide a safe place for discussion on topics such as suicide, personal ethics and values, anti-Semitism, purpose in life, relationships, faith and reason, social justice, leadership, and Israel. A few select teens in each chapter who demonstrate leadership qualities are invited to join the JLI Teens International Internship Program. The interns' role includes participating in joint conference calls to share ideas, providing early feedback and suggestions to course developers, and partaking in special contests and activities.
JLI Teens is offered in seventy cities throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Russia, South Africa, China, Europe and the Middle East.
The Sinai Scholars Society is an integrated fellowship program for college campus students comprising Torah study, social activities, and national networking opportunities. The eight-part curriculum addresses essentials in Judaism, introducing students to the contemporary significance of Jewish life. Students submit an academic paper on Jewish thought, and participate in community and holiday events.
Sinai Scholars is offered in partnership with Chabad on Campus at over one hundred universities.
The Sinai Scholars Society sponsors an annual Students and Scholars Academic Symposium. A selected group of university students from across the country present papers on the modern day relevance of core Jewish ideas and beliefs, the author of the winning paper is awarded a cash prize. At the Symposium students mingle with Jewish scholars in the academic community and connect with peers from other campuses.
Rosh Chodesh Society
JLI's women's studies division, The Rosh Chodesh Society (RCS), seeks to empower Jewish women to connect with their Jewish heritage, and in turn, inspire their families and greater communities. An international network of female Jewish scholars, leaders, and educators provides members with adult education via monthly cultural and social programs.
The program was founded in 2009 in memory of Rivka Holtzberg, the Chabad emissary who, along with her husband, Gavriel Holtzberg, was a victim of the terror attack in Mumbai, India. Its debut course, Rivka's Tent, was a seven-part series of text-based study of the three commandments addressed specifically to Jewish women. RCS has affiliates in over 150 communities around the world.
JLI later created a video site, Torah Café (www.TorahCafe.com) where it offers lectures, workshops, and inspiration from its library. The videos covers a broad range of topics available including academic study of Torah, language, Jewish literature, Jewish History, Biographies of Jewish personalities, Jewish music and ethics.
National Jewish Retreat
JLI sponsors a six-day annual retreat, The National Jewish Retreat which features live lectures and interactive workshops on Jewish life, law, history, culture and tradition, led by scholars and experts in their various fields of study. The annual retreat is hosted each summer at a hotel and was designed to engage the mind and refresh the spirit, and provides gourmet Kosher cuisine and entertainment.
In 2013, the Retreat launched the annual Jewish Medical Ethics Conference, which features interactive discussions between participating physicians and Jewish medical ethicists on current and emerging quandaries in the field. The conference is accredited for CME. Visit the National Jewish Retreat here .
The Land and The Spirit Israel Experience
Responding to nationwide demand from students participating in the fall 2007 course on Israel, The Land and the Spirit, JLI launched its first Israel Experience in March 2008. The bi-annual tour presents an insider look at Israel. In addition to visiting historic and religious sites, participants meet with Israeli politicians and decision-makers, Torah scholars and local residents.
Participants bring messages of support from home communities in the Diaspora to the IDF forces and to families of victims of violence.
To date, a total of 2,500 Jews from the Diaspora have joined JLI's Israel Experience.
Machon Shmuel: The Sami Rohr Research Institute, under the auspices of The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute, has already begun serving dozens of Shluchim worldwide with the experienced Torah scholarship of a dedicated team, providing thorough background research and comprehensive sources covering practically every topic in Torah literature.
Kohelet Foundation Partnership
Since the fall of 2010, JLI has been a provider of adult Jewish education through the Kohelet Fellowships program, a two-year Jewish learning experience for parents of Jewish day school students. Fellows study Jewish texts, either in courses or one-on-one, participate in community learning events, and explore the lessons with their families. Fellows receive tuition breaks from their children's schools funded by grants from the Kohelet Foundation and its financial partners. Courses on Judaism and study partners for the participating parents are arranged by JLI and Yeshiva University's Center for a Jewish Future.
The JLI Academy provides ongoing training to its affiliated instructors in pedagogy and in-depth study of subjects relating to curriculum content. The Academy organizes an annual conference, intermittent webinars, podcasts, interactive instruction and one-to-one training opportunities.
The JLI Academy also serves as a forum of discussion between the curriculum development team and affiliates. The Academy acts as a sounding board for instructors, and provides guidance.
The JLI Conference is dedicated to sharing tips and ideas for adult education, learning new ways of expanding and improving the more than 350 JLI chapters around the world. The conference includes renowned experts including Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg, Yeshiva University's Dr. David Pelcovitz, Direct Marketing Pioneer Alan Rosenspan, Renowned Communication Educator Michael Brandwein, Professor Jonathan Sarna, Rabbi Berel Bell, and Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Jacobson.
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