JLF | Life’s Big Questions

JLF | Life’s Big Questions

Spring ’23 registration open thru Feb 1


In a low-key atmosphere, meet new people and talk about what matters. Life matters and meaning. Power. Money. Status. Friendship. Work/life balance. Dinner served at each 1.5 hour session. 10 sessions. 2 absences permitted.

(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 explore powerful questions about what it means to live life as a Jewish adult, such as: Can pre-marital sex be holy? What does it mean to be a part of a community? What are my multiple identities? What role does friendship play in my life? How do I balance work and life? What is success?

Join your peers, meet new people, and find community as we discuss hot topics and study accessible and insightful texts.

Oh, and did we mention there’s a $180 stipend for your first JLF?

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 Shira

JLF/LBQs was something I truly did look forward to every week! It provided a really nice, stress-free break in the middle of the week in which I could clear my mind and interact with other Jewish students on campus, which is not always an easy-to-find opportunity!” — a Life’s Big Questions alum

Student Testimonials 

 “JLF really helped me feel more connected to the idea of learning from Jewish texts

 despite not considering myself to be a religious Jew, which in turn made me feel a lot closer to the community as a whole.”

“JLF was a welcoming exploration of what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century. The Jewish values that we discussed over the course of the semester are ones that will guide me for the rest of my life!”

“The discussions were super relevant to my day to day concerns and curiosities. You’re not getting lectures on abstract concepts; these are helpful ideas that will definitely resonate with you!”


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 Shabbat experience.

“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 Shira.

What is the time commitment?

We will meet for ten sessions, each for an hour and a half. Additionally, we’ll all gather for a Shabbat experience.

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 first-timers with 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?

Tuesday nights, 6:30-8:00pm, including dinner. First session is Feb 7.

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, nurture a sense of belonging to the Jewish community, find a Jewish mentor, discover a love of Jewish learning, and feel connected to the Jewish calendar. We’ll do this through study, discussion, and exploring our Jewish identities together.

I have already participated in the Jewish Learning Fellowship previously. What are my options?

Alumni of JLF have multiple options for continued learning and leadership:

  • Check out our other JLF curriculum, open to JLF alumni and new JLF fellows, JLF Israel: Home & Homeland.
  • Check out our other fellowships: Tikkun Olam (Community Service) and Shabbat Your Way.
  • We encourage students who already participated in Life’s Big Questions to apply to be a JLF intern! This is a chance for more learning and to take on a leadership role. Read the job description here.
  • Check out the calendar for other great learning opportunities with Rabbi Shira, Rabbi Cantor, Rachel, or Leora.

Can I participate in both JLF topics?

Yes! Anyone can sign up for either JLF course or both JLF courses as long as you haven’t participated in that course previously. In other words, an alum of LBQs can sign up for Israel: Home and Homeland, an alum of JLF Israel can sign up for LBQs, and someone new can sign up for either or both.

This all sounds great. Where do I sign up?

Sign up here–and share with your friends!