Life’s Big Questions

REGISTRATION IS CURRENTLY CLOSED. PLEASE CHECK BACK FOR SPRING 2022.

Life’s Big Questions: Meaningful Conversations
Fall 2021

Life’s Big Questions is a part of the Jewish Learning Fellowship—the premier Jewish experience on campus!

“I really enjoyed the sense of a Jewish community across different types of Jews.” —a Life’s Big Questions alum

(Still) figuring college out? Want to explore your Jewish roots? Do you have deep, burning questions about life? Then Life’s Big Questions is for you! This 10-week experience, a product of the Jewish Learning Fellowship, brings students together to ask and answer powerful questions about what it means to live life as a Jewish adult, such as: What does it mean to be a part of a community? What role does friendship play in our lives? How do we understand sex and intimacy?

Join your peers, meet new people, and find community (even amidst pandemic!) as we discuss hot topics and study accessible yet insightful texts.

Oh, and did we mention there’s a $180 stipend for a future Jewish experience?

Open to all students who are new to Hopkins and/or want to explore their Jewish identity in a new and meaningful way.

For questions, contact Rabbi Eric at eabbott3@jhu.edu.

“JLF was a great experience! … Our conversation on friendships and relations was my favorite. I thought it was very interesting and good to talk about especially with the quarantine.”—a Life’s Big Questions alum

FAQs

What is Life’s Big Questions?

Life’s Big Questions is a ten-week fellowship that brings together college students to discuss meaningful topics, study Jewish texts, build community, and meet new people. It includes ten sessions and a commencement ceremony. While normally we meet in person, we have switched to online conversations for Fall 2020–a great way to find community amidst pandemic!

“Life’s Big Questions” is a part of the Jewish Learning Fellowship, a series of seminars and conversation-based experiences. Want to learn more? Reach out to Rabbi Eric.

What is the time commitment?

We will meet for ten sessions, each for an hour and fifteen minutes. Additionally, we’ll all gather for a commencement ceremony and a Shabbat experience. See below for the full schedule.

How much does it cost?

Nothing! In fact, we will pay you to join us! We believe that Jewish learning and identity formation is valuable, and so is your time. We don’t want to pay you to be Jewish, but we do want to emphasize that your time is valuable. Therefore, we will provide a stipend which we hope you will use toward a future Jewish experience, such as studying at Pardes in Jerusalem or traveling on a Hillel Alternative Spring Break.

When exactly will we meet?

We will gather on Thursday evenings from 6-7:30pm starting September 23:

  • September 23
  • September 30
  • October 7
  • October 14
  • October 21
  • October 28
  • November 4
  • November 11
  • November 18
  • [Off for Thanksgiving Break]
  • December 2

We will also gather on December 9 for a closing commencement ceremony. Additionally, depending on university policies and safety, we will gather for a Shabbat event on October 15.

We know the dates don’t always work with your current schedule, but don’t let that stop you from signing up! When you register, we’ll also ask for alternative days and times when you can meet, and if we can make it work, we’ll adjust the schedule for what’s best for the group. (Unfortunately, if we can’t figure out a time that works for everyone, we’ll probably stick to the originally scheduled dates.)

What will happen during the pandemic? Will there be food?

Hopkins Hillel follows the university’s policies for the COVID-19 pandemic and response. Students must wear masks at all indoor gatherings, including JLF. Hopkins Hillel’s policy is no meals indoors and only brief snacking indoors. If weather permits, we will try to eat outdoors together, but that cannot be guaranteed each week.

For more information, including masking and meal policies, please see Hopkins Hillel’s  COVID-19 policies and the university’s updates.

I don’t know anything about Jewish texts. I don’t know Torah from Talmud. I never went to Jewish day school. Is this for me?

It’s exactly for you! The Jewish Learning Fellowship is ideal for students who feel that they do not have a strong Jewish textual background but want to learn more. We will study texts in such a way that you need almost no Jewish experience and yet will still be able to learn a lot. And even if you do have some Jewish learning, we encourage you to sign up! We are mainly looking for people who want to explore their Jewish identity–whatever that looks like.

What are the goals of JLF?

We hope that through Life’s Big Questions and the Jewish Learning Fellowship, students will meet new people, bond with peers, feel like they belong to the Jewish community, find a Jewish mentor, discover a love of Torah, and feel connected to Jewish time. We’ll do this through studying together, talking together, and exploring our Jewish identities together.

I have already participated in the Jewish Identity Fellowship or the Jewish Learning Fellowship previously. Is this for me?

We encourage students who participated in the Jewish Identity Fellowship or Jewish Learning Fellowship to apply to be JLF interns! Read the job description here.

We may also hold JLF alumni experiences this year. Stay tuned for more info!

This all sounds great. Where do I sign up?

Registration for Spring 2022 will open in December 2021 or January 2022.

Questions? Email Rabbi Eric.