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Behind the All Day Learning Program

Last winter, students from Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh approached Yeshiva University staff with a proposal. Some of the more veteran students wanted to continue their intense learning schedules but weren’t quite ready to enroll in the college. Some felt an age gap between newly shana alef students at their respective yeshivot. Others wanted to learn on a higher level in English. They asked YU and RIETS for help. YU was immediately supportive of the idea. “YU wants to provide a need for students who want to learn,” said Rabbi Reiss. “If the need exist, we should fill it.”

“We started organizing the program and recruiting potential students from other yeshivot in March,” said Rabbi Shmuel Maybruch, director of the All Day Learning Program (ADLP). “There was a lot of red tape at first” said Rabbi Maybruch. RIETS had to coordinate with admissions to develop and advertise the product. Fliers and notices were sent to communities and Israeli yeshivot with the help of the admissions department.

“There was a concern that schools in Israel might view this program as a threat and, in the beginning, we tip-toed around them,” said Rabbi Maybruch. “We never presume there is competition in Torah learning, but it’s now clear that the program is for people who want to be in America but still learn full time.”

Maybruch, formerly a Sgan Mashgiach of RIETS and rabbi of Shenk Shul, is currently a Shoel Umeshiv in the Katz Kollel and Rabbi at the Stone Beit Midrash Program. He was chosen for the job because, “He has shown a tremendous talent in forming bonds with students through learning,” said Rabbi Reiss. “Rabbi Maybruch is an unbelievably warm and welcoming rebbe,” said Isaac Shulman, one of five students enrolled in the program, originally from Englewood, New Jersey.

Shulman, who joined the program after a year at Yeshivat Har Etzion, was particularly drawn to the caliber of students in the college and rabbinical school. “I was attracted to the students who study here,” he said. “I have great chavrusas and the learning is on a high level.” Shulman, who is enrolled in Rabbi Michael Rosensweig’s shiur, enjoys learning independently in the afternoons.

The discipline required from students who enroll in the program is perhaps higher than traditional Israeli yeshivot. The program follows RIET’s rabbinical school schedule. Students learn with chavrutot from 9:00 in the morning until noon, scattered among the many shiurim of the Yeshiva Program. Shiur is held between 1:00 and 2:30pm. The afternoon Halacha or Gemara seder follows a brief break for mincha. Night seder between 6:45 and 10pm—or later—concludes a busy day. Unlike Israeli yeshivot, the ADLP does not offer students a substantial afternoon break.  For this reason and other reasons, the program is basically self-selecting.

“It’s not really for post high school students,” said Rabbi Reiss. “It’s designed in large part for shana gimmel students.” However, he said, “Officially we will accept any student who wants to learn full time. The only criterion you need is the desire to learn Torah,” said Rabbi Maybruch.

Unlike Israeli yeshivot, ADPL students face a number of distractions. YU is a “varied environment,” said Rabbi Maybruch. With many of their friends and chavrutot enrolled in the college, students might find themselves abandoned by a study partner during the heat of mid-terms or finals. But “I don’t feel distracted,” Shulman assured, as he sat immersed in books on the first floor of the Glueck Beit Midrash.

The program is designed to acclimatize students coming back from a few years in Israel. “It’s good to integrate and ease in to the college environment where they are going to be pursuing their college studies,” said Rabbi Reiss. Jacob Bruan, another ADPL student originally from Englewood, New Jersey and who studied at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh echoed this sentiment saying, “I wanted to be acclimated to the environment here before starting my college studies.”

To that end, students are placed in dorms alongside incoming First Time On Campus Students (FTOCS). “They are part of the overall scene on campus,” said Rav Reiss.

However, students are discouraged from getting involved in clubs or athletic activities, “I would deter a student from pursuing things outside the Beit Midrash. But we handle issues on a case-by-case basis,” said Rabbi Maybruch.

“We anticipate that many of them will go into our smicha program,” said Rabbi Reiss. Indeed, the ADLP counts toward the first year of smicha. Jacob Bruan confirmed his interest in enrolling in the rabbinical program after college. Because it fulfills requirements, “this program balances itself out,” Braun said.

ADLP students pay a flat fee of $10,000 for the program, which helps keep the student-rebbe ratio very low. Room and board are not included. However, as with all YU programs, scholarship is available to those who qualify. The ADLP students meet once a week for a chaburah given by a Rosh Yeshiva, administrator, or rabbinic leader.

The ADLP is slated to expand, albeit in a very limited market. “We anticipate it growing,” said Rabbi Reiss. “There are students who could benefit from being here, and we want those students.”