JLF | Life’s Big Questions (LBQs)

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Life’s Big Questions: Meaningful Conversations | Spring 2022

Life’s Big Questions is a part of the Jewish Learning Fellowship (JLF)—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.

Register by February 9!

And check out our other JLF topic, “Israel: Home & Homeland”

“Rabbi Eric was right – 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, a Shabbat experience, and a commencement ceremony.

“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 a half.* Additionally, we’ll all gather for a commencement ceremony and a Shabbat experience. See below for the full schedule.

*Note that we will only meet for an hour and fifteen minutes when we cannot eat together due to pandemic restrictions.

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?

For JLF Life’s Big Questions, we will gather on Thursday evenings from 5-6:30pm* starting February 17:

  • February 17
  • February 24
  • March 03
  • March 10
  • March 17
  • (Off for Spring Break)
  • March 31
  • April 07
  • April 14
  • April 20 or 21**
  • April 28

We will also gather together for Shabbat on March 4 and commemorate the end of the semester with a commencement ceremony on May 5.

*We will only meet for an hour and fifteen minutes, 5:00-6:15pm, when we cannot eat together due to pandemic restrictions. We ask that you hold the entire time, though.

**Thursday, April 21 is a Jewish holiday and some Jews cannot meet on this evening. If we cannot meet on April 21, we’ll meet on April 20 instead.

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 stick to the originally scheduled dates.)

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

Hopkins Hillel follows all university pandemic policies, including around masking and food. Students must wear masks at all indoor gatherings, including JLF. Moreover, each JLF session would typically (pre-pandemic) include a meal. However, following university policy, we cannot serve food until further notice. (Due to this policy, our JLF sessions will be 15 minutes shorter when food isn’t served.)

If and when things change, Hopkins Hillel programming will change, too, and that includes adding food when possible. We therefore ask you to hold the full hour and 30 minutes in your schedule in case we can bring back the JLF meal during the semester.

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 Learning Fellowship previously. What are my options?

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

  • Check out our new JLF curriculum, open to JLF alumni and new JLF fellows, JLF Israel: Home & Homeland.
  • We encourage students who participated in the 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 events with Rabbi Eric, Rabbi Cantor, or other Hillel staff.

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–then share with your friends!

(And click here for more information on JLF Israel: Home & Homeland.)


Questions? Email Rabbi Eric.