- First year
- Business administration
- International Program in English
The Gift Of Torah-Academic Balance: Why I Don’t Take My College Experience For Granted
by Yehuda Auerbach
As a first-semester student in the Jerusalem College of Technology’s (JCT) International Program in English, I’m now only beginning to recognize the tremendous benefits of having the ability to balance Torah study with secular academics, building a strong foundation for a professional career, and benefiting from highly affordable tuition, all from my new home in Israel.
After completing high school at Mesivta Ateres Yaakov in Cedarhurst, the natural next step was taking at least one year to study in yeshiva in Israel — 40 of the 45 students in my graduating class made that same decision.
At the time, I had no intention of remaining in Israel beyond my gap year. But I eventually embraced the idea of aliyah as a result of my experience at Yeshivat Sha’alvim, where as part of the hesder program — an Israeli yeshiva program combining advanced Talmudic studies with military service within a religious Zionist framework — I was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces in March 2016. And a few months ago, I began studying at JCT.
The International Program is the ideal situation for students like myself who prioritize their Torah growth as well as their academics. I hadn’t previously envisioned this golden opportunity to stay in yeshiva and simultaneously study business. While my schedule is certainly jam-packed, JCT’s program is designed in a way that allows room to maintain a high level of learning in both disciplines. The class sizes are small, providing an intimate learning environment and the assurance that our professors care about our growth. My instructors really do listen to me, whether it be my questions, suggestions, concerns, and everything in between.
I already have an eye on the future, with an intention to pursue an MBA in marketing or advertising following my time at JCT. The International Program incorporates lectures and practical research projects which challenge students to apply their knowledge to real-life situations, giving me a strong foundation for whatever career path I ultimately pursue.
Looking back, I had every intent of returning to the U.S. for college. Yet I was destined for this alternate path. Many people who immigrate to Israel from America do so as a kind of “rite of passage” because of their Zionist upbringing; my own aliyah process did include some of the conventional elements, but in other ways it was a much different journey. It all happened organically, from yeshiva to army service to enrollment in JCT. Many times, I made important decision on the fly. Five years later, I’m still here in Israel, and I’m here to stay.
It helps tremendously that JCT is much more affordable ($3,800 per year) than my higher education options in America, and the tuition is almost free as an immigrant to Israel. I don’t need to worry about the burden of student loans.
The International Program at JCT is also a one-of-a-kind option for students in my situation. There’s truly nothing else like it. It’s the only complete undergraduate degree in English in Jerusalem, the Jewish people’s holiest city. Studying at JCT means being at ease, and in my comfort zone, thanks to the fact that it’s a religious institution.
Another significant benefit of the International Program is its flexibility. In enrolling, I wasn’t actually making a binding commitment. Students have the option of trying out the program for just a year, after which point they can continue the program until completion, or transfer to a different Israeli college that will accept credits from JCT. The International Program’s students also don’t need to be Israeli citizens, so they can keep their options open before making a final decision about aliyah. I’m enjoying my experience and was already set on aliyah, but it’s still reassuring to know that I can keep my options open in other ways.
It was never a given that I’d have access to a unique Torah-academic balance, an affordable college experience that meet all of my needs, and strong relationships with caring professors. I don’t take these gifts for granted.
Yehudah Auerbach, 22, is a native of Cedarhurst who is in his first semester studying business administration in the international program at the Jerusalem College of Technology.