Research Fellowships – Talmud Skills

This fellowship opportunity is for students participating full time in the Pardes Year/Semester program. The Talmud Skills Research Fellow will assist Daniel Reifman in developing his Intermediate/Advanced Talmud Skills course into a curriculum and/or online resource. This will be distributed to schools and educators through the Pardes Center For Jewish Education.

Talmud Skills Project

Daniel Reifman has been teaching intermediate and advanced Talmud classes with a distinctive approach to skill-building for nearly 15 years. His Talmud Skills class at Pardes has become popular among students looking to develop independence in Talmud study. Students have frequently requested a way to continue using his methodology beyond the framework of the course, both for continued study and for teaching their own students.

The Talmud Skills curriculum will incorporate elements relevant to a range of skill levels. A preliminary outline of the curriculum is as follows:

  1. Tools for parsing the Talmud text and structuring Talmudic discussions
  2. Functional categories of common structural terms in halakhic sugyot
  3. Use of charts and other visual tools for teaching and studying Talmud
  4. Interpretive assumptions and techniques in midrash Halakhah in the Bavli
  5. Tools for parsing and structuring Tosafot and other Rishonim

What distinguishes this approach from that of other Talmud curricula is the focus on systematic structural elements rather than on content. The Talmud Skills Project will lay out discrete sets of techniques for reading Gemara and Rishonim that can be used regardless of the specific material being studied. Similarly, the advantage of the charts and visual tools is that their underlying structure allows the teacher to adapt them to a very wide range of content.

The current state of the project & plan for next year

Over the past year and a half, the Talmud Skills project has taken the form of individual pamphlets, each outlining a particular technique or skill set. These are geared for use by students, and are designed to demonstrate how specific techniques and skills can be used productively at different skill levels (e.g., using the same chart for mapping out Mishnayot, sugiyot and Rishonim). Already a number of these pamphlets are ‘in beta’ and have been distributed to students and teachers for their feedback.

The next phase of the project will involve editing the completed pamphlets for both content and design. Hopefully, we will also begin combining individual pamphlets into a larger and more comprehensive guide.

Skills of Talmud Skills Research Fellow

  • Editing/design skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • At least 2 years experience studying Talmud (Pardes level gimmel or higher)
  • Some teaching experience or graphic design experience – preferable

Specific Fellowship Requirements

  • 5 hours/week – most of the work would be completed in the Pardes Beit Midrash
  • Weekly meeting with the faculty advisor
  • Participation in Talmud Skills course (currently Mon. & Wed. 14:30-17:00)

All fellows will receive a guaranteed living expense grant ranging from $200-$600/month (exact amount determined by financial need) AND receive highly subsidized Year Program tuition: $3,000 discount for those not eligible for Masa Israel Journey funding, and $2,000 discount for those eligible for Masa funding.

A letter of recommendation from a supervisor who can speak to the candidate’s relevant community experience and potential growth and contributions through the fellowship is required. This may be one of the two letters of recommendation required for the YP application, or an additional recommendation. The letter must be submitted along with the Fellowship Application and the 2022-23 Pardes Year Program application.