Revel Establishes Graduate Program for Christian Students
The Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies will launch a new graduate degree program for Christian students this Fall.
The one-year virtual/in-person program, developed in collaboration with the Philos Project, a nonprofit organization that promotes Christian advocacy in the Near East, is intended for Christians looking to better understand the Jewish roots of Christianity and explore Hebraic studies in greater depth.
Additionally, it will also educate about potential misconceptions about Judaism and mentor graduates on how to apply their knowledge to positively impact Christian society and Judeo-Christian relations.
“When it comes to religious differences there is a uniqueness that must absolutely be maintained and respected,” Daniel Rynhold, Revel’s dean, told The Commentator. “But there are also artificial barriers that can lead one group to view another as alien in the most damaging ways. And if we want to break down those barriers, all the political policies in the world cannot hold a candle to the basic encounter between people simply sitting together, talking, and studying. This program creates a space for just that.”
To be eligible for the Revel program, potential students will need to apply through the Philos Project first before applying to Revel. They will be required to complete courses on multiple topics, including on biblical Hebrew and Jewish-Christian relations, to reflect their “starting point” in Jewish studies, in addition to the standard Revel program.
Accepted students will also take an immersive Hebrew course in the summer prior to starting classes.
Although Revel has always been open to students of non-Jewish backgrounds, lack of education in the Hebrew language was long an obstacle for Christian students interested in normal Revel courses, Rynhold told The Commentator. To overcome that, Rynhold worked with Robert Nicholson, the resident and director of the Philos Project, to create a program where basic Hebrew and Jewish studies are built into the curriculum instead of being a prerequisite to enrollment.
The inaugural class, which will include between five and ten students, will receive a master’s in Jewish Studies upon completing their requirements.
The program costs approximately $35,000 a semester, but accepted students will receive a scholarship of over $23,000 from YU and the Philos Project. To remain eligible for financial assistance, students will need to fulfill the Philos Project’s requirements.
“It’s an opportunity for Christians who want to understand where their faith comes from to understand our texts in a way that has not generally been open to them — from an authentically Jewish perspective,” said Rynhold.
Rynhold intends to add a director of external programs to the Revel administration in the coming weeks to help conduct the program.
YU has worked with the Philos Project in the past. In September, the Philos Project and YU’s Rabbi Arthur Schneier Program for International Affairs co-hosted an evening of Latino-Jewish art and music for YU students and Washington Heights community members, drawing a crowd of over 200, including New York politicians.
“If we succeed, then despite the many differences that do — and should — separate us, we will begin to see more and more Christians who understand where their faith comes from and who can empathize with their Jewish neighbors,” said Nicholson.
Applications for classes this Fall closed in March.
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Photo Caption: The Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies has established a new graduate degree program aimed at Christians.
Photo Credit: The Commentator