By Sara Marcus, Staff Writer
One semester into the Beren Bekiut Program (BBP), and the learning initiative has evolved and flourished into a staple of the Beren Campus Torah learning community. Begun Fall 2018 as a Torah Activities Council (TAC) program to incentivize Stern students to learn more, with support from the Office of Student Life and the Dean’s Office, BBP offers various topics ranging from Halakha and Talmud to Mishna and Tanach for students to study in exchange for $150 towards the annual YU Seforim Sale. Students will need to prove their participation and commitment by passing tests with an average grade of 85 percent on the exams to cash in their money for the Sefarim Sale credit.
According to The Commentator, the idea was inspired by a similar night seder program for Yeshiva College students on the Wilf Campus. Adina Cohen, 2018-2019 President of TAC, spearheaded the program to create a similar, high-level learning program that incentivized learning for women on the Beren Campus.
Cohen expressed enthusiasm for the success of the program, especially after the bang of the first semester, adding that there are more than a hundred Stern students signed up for this semester.
Still, Cohen admitted that the BBP has adjusted its logistics and pivoted its methods after hearing from the participants from the first semester. . While the number, 115, represents a large drop from last semester’s 184, she noted that many new students have signed up for this semester, and that BBP has modified its structure to accommodate students’ busy schedules: “people didn’t necessarily realize the [time] commitment when they were signing up,” she noted. “The first semester included responsibilities that many students were enthusiastic about, but could not follow through with since the BBP requirements were too much.” Now, the the halakha track will be less extensive in response to the people who complained it covered too much information. The other major change is adding more tests for a total of five, which ensures the tests will cover less materia and that the lowest test will be dropped.
“This way, for people if they’re stressed for a few weeks… it will be [less pressure],” Cohen said. She concluded that she is proud of the project and its potential. “Hopefully it will become a fixture in the university,”
Participants who responded to a request for comment were enthusiastic about the program. Hadassah Penn, who has been in the program since it began, initially joined for the Seforim Sale incentive. She found this semester to be less difficult, and wrote that she thought “This program is great– there’s a track for every ability/comfort level and it’s not a huge commitment.”
Ariella Etshalom agreed, remarking, “I have really enjoyed being part of this incredible learning program. It is amazing how many people learned for the sake of learning and took advantage of the opportunity to be motivated by the overall environment that BBP created for us. The idea of having a group of women learning the same topic in a given category and being able to discuss ideas together really changed the atmosphere here at Stern. I am proud to be a part of this pilot year and cannot wait to see the program continue to grow!”