MIAMI — What do a professor from Los Angeles, an attorney from Milwaukee, and a secretary from Coconut Grove have in common?

They are all part of a growing chorus of Jewish adults across North America who rave about what they consider to be the hottest commodity in adult Jewish learning today.

That commodity, known as the Jewish Learning Institute (or JLI), provides college-level seminars that cover a broad swath of the millennia-old corpus of Jewish scholarship. In it participants from a diverse range of Jewish backgrounds are offered topics like history, philosophy, laws, lifecycle and mysticism.


Join thousands of men and women who will inaugurate the Jewish Learning Institute’s fourth semester by delving into “Kabbalah Rythms: A Spiritual Roadmap to Higher Living.”

Kabbalah is an ancient Jewish wisdom that explains the laws of spiritual energy and its link to the material. The eight-week course, beginning country-wide starting January 20th, will present both research and analysis of traditional Jewish sources and will facilitate intensive discussion with expert instructors and peers.

Class topics include:

Introduction to Kabbalah
The quest for meaning and purpose in life
Transcending the limits of the human mind
Providence: Is it really "meant to be"?
Discovering the patterns of creation
The mysteries of personality: Uncovering hidden good
Heaven on earth: Revealing your role as a partner in creation.
To find a location near you and to register please click here.

JLI’s instructors say they strive to make the toughest Talmudic formulae accessible even to someone with little prior background in Jewish learning.

Currently offered in 65 cities across North America, the semester-long courses are considered unique both in the way they impart the accumulated knowledge of 3,000 years and in their life-skills applications.

Seminars are developed by anticipating students’ need for knowledge instead of artificial needs “imposed” by the subject material, organizers say.

“We try to project from the student outward,” says Rabbi Yisroel Rice, Chair of the JLI Editorial Board. “We are dealing with a highly sophisticated audience who are accustomed to academic rigor and cannot be satisfied by rote consumption of advanced concepts.

“We aim to give our participants intelectual ‘ownership’ of the material in a manner that makes it uniquely theirs,” Rice says.

In addition, according to JLI officials, high on the adult learner's personal-need list is the quest to attach personal relevance and application to the academic material.

“In many disciplines intellectual pursuit and ‘real life’ skills are mutually exclusive of one another,” says Rabbi Efraim Mintz, JLI’s founding director. “We help our students discover the connection between the two endeavors.”

Rabbi Ronnie Fine, a JLI instructor in Montreal, adds:

“Judaism’s treasures are often imparted in ways that don’t speak to a majority of society,” Fine says. “It looks like a detached compilation of do’s and don’ts. JLI teaches Judaism so that it speaks to ‘me’ on a personal level. This is the key to success in adult Jewish education today and JLI practices this to the utmost.”

JLI staff regularly solicits the professional advice of leaders in cutting-edge adult-learning principles. Professor Andrew Effrat, dean of the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is one of those leaders. Effrat schooled JLI instructors in teaching techniques that emphasize being less didactic and more interactive. Professor Effrat gives JLI high marks for its continuous quest to be more engaging.

Scholars and instructors refine their teaching techniques and the JLI course material in bi-annual conferences where they analyze and apply the student feedback they regularly solicit during the courses.

Here’s what one critic had to say about the JLI courses:

…[Chabad-Lubavitch] has professionally developed a suite of college-style courses and schooled a select group of rabbis in modern teaching methods. The result is a fast-growing national adult-education network that offers short, reasonably priced, noncredit classes designed to avoid intimidating time-pressed students who know little of their religion or Hebrew and are strangers to the inside of a synagogue.

…There are few other comparable nationally known, adult-enrichment programs.

-- Los Angeles Jewish Journal

In what seems like a collective rave, participants across the continent affirm that these efforts pay off.

“The classes are taught very professionally and the textbooks are amazingly good reading and well-compiled,” says Stephen Vineberg, a real estate developer from Montreal.

Houston management consultant Sandra Block says, “I have so enjoyed [JLI]. I have been challenged, prodded, confused, enlightened - all at once... I hope the JLI will offer parts II, III, IV and more.”

And Gloria Schreiber, an executive secretary from Coconut Creek, Florida, enthuses, “The JLI opened up a whole new world and cleared up many misconceptions and misunderstandings. The lessons instilled an understanding… of the rituals that we perform, making them very clear and special.”

Dr. Rohn Kessler, Graduate Professor of Educational Leadership at Florida Atlantic University’s School of Education and member of the JLI Board, sums it up by saying simply, “The quality of [JLI’s] teaching is superior and the information being disseminated is very thought-provoking and profound.”

The Jewish Learning Institute was created and is run by the Chabad Lubavitch Shluchim Resource Center. Courses to date have included: The Development and Relevance of Jewish Law, The Jewish Life Cycle and Journey of a Nation: The Miracle of Jewish Survival. The semester-long course entitled “Jewish Essentials: A Spiritual Guide to Jewish Life and Living” analyzed 12 fundamental teachings from our holy books and demonstarted how Jewish law encompasses ever facet ofhuman life.

For more information about JLI please visit