Beren Bekiut Program Has an Emotional Kickoff
On Oct. 8, the Beren Bekiut Program (BBP), an initiative of Torah Activities Council (TAC) President Adina Cohen, was inaugurated. The BBP, which is sponsored by TAC, the Office of Student Life (OSL), and the Dean’s Office, is an incentivized Torah learning opportunity in which students learn a certain amount each week and then take tests on the material they have covered.
The night’s events opened with President Berman sharing some words of Torah with approximately 50 attendees. “Our goal is to stoke your ambition, that you will leave this place as people of impact,” President Berman said in his remarks. “These are the years that one needs to take full advantage to learn and study [Torah] as much as possible. We want to make sure you have access to it.”
After President Berman spoke, the doors opened to allow in the additional women waiting outside who wanted to join in participating. After the number of attendees rose to about 75 students, Adina Cohen explained the logistics. Students can choose to learn a section from Talmud, Mishnah, Halakhah, Chumash or Tanakh, following a weekly schedule. There are then monthly tests on what has been learned, where an average grade of 85 or above earns the participant $150 to the Seforim Sale. Though a student can choose to learn more than one category, the funding only covers the money for one discipline. After Cohen’s explanation, the students were invited downstairs to fill out sign-up forms.
The idea for this incentivized learning program emerged from a conversation that took place last spring between Cohen and a friend of hers who described to Cohen how he participated in an incentivized learning opportunity on the Wilf Campus. Founded in 2015, the Wilf night seder program doles out monetary incentives towards the Seforim Sale for students who maintain a certain average on bi-weekly tests. Since that conversation, Cohen has been working closely with Dean Chaim Nissel and the OSL to develop a high-quality program for the women on Beren.
“Our goal is to cater to as many types of learning styles as possible,” Cohen said. For her, this program is “less about numbers [of people who participate] and more about creating an environment of Torah learning on campus.”
Cohen’s attitude speaks to other measures that YU has taken this year to improve Beren’s Torah atmosphere. Another notable initiative is the hiring of Rabbi Jacob and Rebbetzin Penina Bernstein as the campus Rabbi and Rebbetzin. The couple teaches multiple shiurim a week and Rabbi Bernstein is available to students for halachic questions.
The Bekiut program is another step forward in YU’s attempts to bring more Torah to the Beren campus, and left a number of attendees with misty eyes.
“These are the moments when I am so proud to be apart of Stern College and the Torah community that we are building together,” said Rachel Fried (SCW ‘19). “The energy in the room was contagious,” she added.
Though numbers were not her goal, Cohen was excited to report the next morning that 100 students — a great deal more than those who attended the opening — have already signed on to participate. Cohen and her fellow TAC members are “optimistic that the number will continue to rise.” And as of Wednesday evening, two days following BBP’s inauguration, they had already reached 150.
Photo Credit: TAC
Photo Caption: Students Register For Beren Bekiut Program