The Sinai Scholars program, hosted by the University’s Chabad chapter, markets itself as a “class” on the 10 Commandments. Students meet weekly over dinner and discuss texts, but no homework is expected for the course. And as students shop classes and schedules, the program is recruiting them to sign up for the weekly course and noting the $350 stipend they receive upon completion of the course.
The course is run through the Sinai Scholars Society, an organization that offers the course at over 60 affiliated campuses in the United States as well as at universities in Canada and the U.K. The motto of Sinai Scholars, “Judaism goes to college,” is an extension of the Society’s mission to help students discover their heritage, connect with other Jewish students on campus and become empowered Jewish leaders.
Rabbi Eitan Webb, who teaches the course at Princeton and is on the board of the Sinai Scholars Society, said the course will help students engage with Judaism and get to know their classmates.
“It’s fun, it’s enjoyable, but it’s also very diverse in terms of the types of students who take the class,” Webb said. “Everybody ends up learning from everybody else and walks away not just having heard something but also engaged and with a better approach to Jewish activities.”
Sandra Goldlust ’15 took the course last year and is currently the course coordinator. She said the course is open to students with all backgrounds of knowledge in Judaism.
“I hadn’t had much previous exposure before the taking the class, and I really found it a great experience,” Goldlust said.
Michael Iberkleid Szainrok ’15, another student who took the course last year, said it was one of his favorite courses that he has taken at the University so far.
“I learned a lot about general Judaism, but my favorite part was meeting other Jews at Princeton, and some of them are my closest friends at Princeton now,” he said.
Webb noted that because many college students hold part-time jobs as part of their extracurricular activities, Sinai Scholars decided to offer the $350 stipend as a way to remove any financial barriers for students interested in the course. Webb said the funding for the stipend comes from foundations and philanthropists such as Pamela and George Rohr.
“[Rohr] said to me once that he doesn’t view himself as a philanthropist but rather as an investor. To be able to go and create a setting where people can approach their own culture [and] their own text ... is very thrilling,” Webb said. “If we can do that multiple times, hundreds of times, thousands of times, I don’t know what the results will be, but one thing is for sure: there will be thousands more students that will be educated in their own culture, and that must be a good thing.”
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/09/21/31195/