Vital Signs: Adult Education, Chabad-Style

March 22, 2010

Source: Jewish Ideas Daily


This is the fourth in a series on people and places fostering commitment to Judaism and the Jewish people in the United States and elsewhere by Professor Jack Wertheimer of the Jewish Theological Seminary. In it he tells about the largest adult Jewish education program in the world, the Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) of Chabad.


The JLI last year enrolled over 42,000 individuals in 6 week courses at over 300 settings around the world. Since its inception in 1998, JLI has developed 37 separate six-week courses.


The central JLI staff, located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, develops and packages each course, pre-tests materials, produces workbooks that are distributed to each student, prepares promotional materials for use by Chabad centers, and keeps close tabs on teachers and students. Each course lasts for six weekly sessions; for the convenience of travelers, each unit is taught during the same week at every location both in America and around the globe. Every instructor is required to attend an annual week-long conference to master new courses and review pedagogical methods. The emphasis in JLI courses is on the existential aspect of learning, unique among other adult-education curricula.


JLI claims to having enrolled more than 180,000 individual students over its first dozen years, affording to a great many Jewish adults the opportunity to reflect, perhaps for the first time, on the meaning of traditional Jewish texts for their own lives.

Updated: Apr. 21, 2010