Learning by Osmosis

My husband and I recently returned from visiting the school where he intends to study, and to say the experience was amazing would be an understatement. On our flight home, I kept coming up with ideas to post about, however after some thought the topic became clear. One of the primary things we hope to do here at Redefining Rebbetzin, is to share different viewpoints on similar topics and experiences, so with Jessica’s recent post on the experience of attending the program at R’s future school in mind, my post began to write itself.

While many Rabbinical students in the program D is interested in are married, there were definitely no other spouses along for the prospective student experience. I think this in some ways, set the stage we didn’t expect to find ourselves on as the token couple. We had many students express how exciting it was to see a couple entering the process together and making sure we both knew what was in store. It sets a different tone to the life and learning of a Rabbinical student to have a supportive wife going into it.

We spent the beginning of our visit meeting a variety of wonderful and bright students, faculty, and staff (which was clearly an important part of the trip), however we really looked forward to attending classes on our last day on campus. D and I attended different classes, though we both learned with a very diverse group of students, not only in their backgrounds and demographics, but also in their career aspirations. Regardless of these differences, we noticed a phenomenal level of engagement, interaction, and intellect from everyone.  Students openly engaged one another, questioning how they read the texts and suggesting alternate understandings while teachers sat quietly pleased.

In the classrooms, Beit Midrash, library and halls – these conversations continued. Students exchanged ideas freely and openly, combining discussions from various courses and independent learning in order to fully understand what they learned or to get some additional insights from a peer. There was little distinction between the backgrounds or aspirations. These did not matter nearly as much as the pursuit of a more complete Jewish education, to find one’s own calling in the community, and to refine oneself as a leader. Learning did not cease when class ended or one person left a conversation – there was so much going on, I felt we could all learn by osmosis. That just by being in the presence of so much learning, we were learning things we never would have thought to study on our own.

I think this is one of the major things that being the Rebbetzin is about – embracing learning by osmosis, especially in the schooling phase. These vibrant conversations give us the chance to find our own learning opportunities, to develop who we are as educated Jewish women who will lead and educate in our own ways. While I do hope to be able to do some dedicated learning while D is in Rabbinical school, I look forward to seeing what I get through osmosis.

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