On Sunday night, December 18, teenage girls from different high schools in the Teaneck area gathered together in the Bais Medrash of Bergenfield for a night of learning. This was the first meeting of a new initiative from the Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies (GPATS), called “SNL — Sunday Night Learning: Empowered by GPATS.” Ultimately, the goal is to run this program every six to eight weeks for the high school girls of Teaneck, with a different type of speaker each time.
Nechama Price, the director of GPATS, explained that,“It was brought to my attention that the high level learning at Stern and GPATS [could] be used to inspire girls in high school.” A request for a high school program was made from the Teaneck community, and so SNL was created.
The event began with dinner and chaburas between high school students and GPATS students, where they read and discussed a prepared source sheet. They talked about whether they agreed or disagreed with the sources and had lively debates. After that, all of the participants came together for a shiur by Nechama Price entitled “Favoritism in Tanach.”
Five GPATS students attended this first event to help facilitate the sessions before the shiur. Talia Molotsky, one of those students, explained that her role was not just to learn with the high schoolers, but also to “expose the high schoolers to GPATS, to what it is and what it can offer students who are serious about learning.” She added that this program was created in order to give high schoolers a chance to learn in a fun environment outside of school.
Molotsky feels very fortunate to have helped with this event. “It was awesome to meet a lot of capable, smart young ladies,” she said. “As a GPATS student, it is really nice to have an opportunity to give back. I spend all day working on myself and learning, and it is really nice to be able to teach and put that into practice. It was a cool place to learn, and I can’t wait for the next session.”
The subject of the first learning event was Tanach, but Price explained that that will not always be the case. “We are going to see how it will grow in the future, but the plan is to bring in different types of speakers each time,” she said This time it was a Tanach speaker, but we also want to do Jewish History and Gemara speaker…We’re going to bring in speakers who are the normal type of speakers we’d bring into Stern or GPATS.”
One of Price’s main goals in creating the program was for high school students to be able to meet and interact with GPATS students. “We want [high school girls] to know that they can learn like this in the future. The goal is to get them excited at a young age for learning. The more you are inspired by learning earlier in life, the more you will love learning as you get older,” she explained.
Overall, Price was incredibly happy with the kick-off event. “It was incredible to see women in graduate program sitting with these high school girls,” she said, and added, “There was something very beautiful about bringing girls from different high schools together. It was a unifying experience, which was nice.”