Teen SVARA, now in its ninth year, is a Talmud bet midrash modeled on SVARA’s other traditionally radical bet midrash programs. It is both serious in its approach to Talmud study and casual and informal in its overall feel. At Teen SVARA, a safe and fun environment is balanced with a rigorous encounter with text, the acquisition of Talmud study skills, and the development of insight into the very sophisticated Rabbinic tradition. There is a sense of community among the members and Rabbi Lappe that is both warm and open. Teen SVARA members have a feeling of being in something of a special club—one that is intellectual, spiritual, and social all at the same time.

Each session begins with “check-in’s,” during which time the members catch one another up on what has happened in their lives since the previous session, sometimes bringing in ethical dilemmas from their everyday lives, or just things they’ve been thinking about. The members are prepped for the day’s text by being introduced to the broad issues the text will address, as well as any particularly difficult vocabulary or halachic (Jewish legal) concepts in the text. They then prepare the text in chevruta (pairs of two), after which we come together as a group to “unpack” the text, paying close attention to technical terms, grammar, vocabulary, etc., and then addressing the deeper meanings of the text. The “unpacking” inevitably leads to a freewheeling discussion that goes beyond the boundaries of the text itself and into issues in the members’ own lives, beliefs, philosophy, etc.

Teen SVARA meets weekly for two ten-week semesters over the course of the academic year, and is open to all high school students (with exceptional 8th graders admitted on a case by case basis).

Stay tuned for details about the Fall 2014 Teen SVARA session.

In the meantime, if you think that Teen SVARA may be right for you or your teen, let us know![insert_ajaxcontact id=2156]

Teen SVARA is supported by a generous grant from the Mordechai M. Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood.