• This year’s theme of עִיר מִקְלָט “Ir Miklat: City of Refuge” can be found in a small corner of parshat Matot-Masei (Numbers 30:2 - 36:13). It epitomizes how we want this year’s institute to feel: a space where both the individual and the community at the heart of the Havurah ethos can come together in a safe space to create something meaningful, where our connections are welcoming and inclusive, fun and exciting, relaxing and energizing, and insightful and spiritually significant for our diverse community of participants.

    The Core Team envisions Institute as our City of Refuge--a place that’s safe--this year more than ever. What is it YOU need refuge from? We welcome you to join us at Pearlstone Center for sanctuary and refuge, to renew and refresh, and to play, rest, create and learn with us! Summer Institute will take place july 29-August 4, 2024.

2024 Course FAQs

Submit a Proposal

2024 Course Proposal Details & FAQs

We invite you to submit a proposal to teach at the 2024 National Havurah Committee Summer Institute, to be held at Pearlstone Retreat Center in Maryland. This year will mark our return to a full week of programming from Monday, July 29 to Sunday, August 4.

Key Dates

January 16, 2024 Application deadline

  • Late February 2024 Teachers notified
  • Monday, July 29 to Sunday, August 4, 2024 Summer Institute

Submit Proposal

Curious what a week at in-person Summer Institute looks like? Click here to see the program guide from our most recent week-long Summer Institute.

The National Havurah Committee is a community of people of all ages dedicated to deeply rooted, vibrantly creative Jewish living and learning, community building, and tikkun olam (repairing the world). Our volunteer-led community is egalitarian, pluralistic, multi-generational, and highly participatory.

Each year, we hold a Summer Institute plus weekend retreats. At these gatherings, we live our motto that “every student is a teacher and every teacher is a student” with a wide array of opportunities to learn from each other.

Am I eligible to apply to teach a course?

Most likely, yes! We believe and practice that everyone is both a teacher and a student. You don’t need to be a rabbi, or a professor, or have any specific background to teach. Many NHC community members come to Institute for the first time as a teacher. We provide some training after proposals are accepted, but you will need to show strong planning and depth of knowledge in your proposal.

The Course Committee aims to assemble a teaching roster that is diverse in background, approaches, and experience with Summer Institute. To support such a mix, those who have taught courses at recent Institutes have not typically been eligible to apply, but we are suspending that rule as we return to full-week in-person Institute in 2024. We are particularly eager to recruit teachers with identities and Jewish experiences that have been under-represented among our teaching roster: Jews of color, Sephardi, Mizrahi [JOCSM], disabled, or otherwise under-represented folks. If you have any questions about equity and inclusion, please contact the Course Committee.

Can I co-teach a course with someone else?

Sure! If you and another person are proposing to co-teach a course, please submit a single online course proposal with the information for both teachers.

What makes a good course proposal?

Propose a course you’re passionate about; make it something unique that you’re likely not going to find anywhere else. We encourage you to propose topics that you have found to be of special interest in your local havurot, minyanim, or other learning contexts. In addition, topics relating to the Torah portion for that week would be appropriate.

Please provide details of what you plan to cover during the sessions, including how the students will be engaged in the course. Tell us about your vision: What are you doing? What are the students doing? We want to know about the structure you will build for shared learning.

As a guide, you may view proposals that were accepted for previous Institutes to get a sense of the depth and detail that the Course Committee expects: Yavni Bar-Yam, Sarah Beller, and Sherry Israel. You may also wish to view descriptions of courses offered at a previous Summer Institute.

To talk with a member of the course committee before submitting your application, contact us at courses@havurah.org, with the understanding that we can only comment on whether your ideas are clear and specific enough to produce a strong proposal, not on its chances of acceptance. Until we have a group of proposals to work with, we can’t predict how we will make choices to produce a diverse and balanced roster.

How do participants select their courses?

Teachers should expect a diverse group of students with differing viewpoints and should be open to lively discussion in an environment that promotes openness and mutual respect. Participants select their courses when they register for the Institute. Teachers will be provided a class roster prior to the start of Institute once registration closes.

Courses may not be restricted by gender, age, religious practice, or ideology. You may require specific background (such as Hebrew reading skills, previous experience studying Jewish texts, or the ability to read music); please describe the expectations clearly in your application.

What is the basic structure for Summer Institute courses?

Most courses meet for four sessions, either in the morning or the afternoon, on Tuesday through Friday. Teachers can limit class size if needed, and NHC will work with teachers who need AV resources or accommodations to be able to teach effectively.

What topics are appropriate for a course?

The backbone of the Summer Institute schedule is the courses, which meet daily Tuesday to Friday. As a teacher, you can expect to engage with enthusiastic students interested in exploring the subject or skill that you want to share.

  • Course proposals can cover any Jewish subjects or themes: religious life, spirituality, contemporary issues, history, literature, art, music, personal growth, or whatever you dream up.
  • Courses will be selected reflecting a balance of styles as well as topics: text study, crafts, movement, creative writing, and so on.
  • The Torah portion for our week together will be Matot-Masei, so we are particularly interested in courses on Numbers 30:2-36:13 or on Tribes and Travels—however you define those terms.

 

However, many long-time Institute attendees will tell you that it’s not really the topic that makes a good course—it’s the teacher’s ability to engage the students in the exploration of a topic that the teacher finds compelling and exciting.

Proposals for courses largely available in the broader Jewish community, such as teaching specific liturgical skills like reading from the Torah, are not generally accepted.

What level of text study background can I assume for a text-based course?

Text-study courses can be divided into three categories:

  • Advanced Text courses usually require experience with traditional text study and ability to read texts in their original language (usually Hebrew or Aramaic), and they may presume familiarity with other source material.
  • Intermediate Text courses assume some familiarity with traditional text study but don’t require participants to work independently in Hebrew/Aramaic. These courses generally provide texts in translation but may also refer to the original languages.
  • Text for Everyone courses provide all sources in translation and do not assume any previous experience with text study.

Does NHC have any rules about COVID for the Summer Institute?

The COVID Committee has not yet issued rules for the upcoming summer. The Course Committee will continue to require that teachers affirm that they are vaccinated. There will be both indoor and outdoor classroom spaces.

Do I have to pay to attend Institute if I am a course teacher?

To recognize the work of teaching and to ensure anyone invited to teach is able to attend, NHC reduces the registration costs for teachers. 

  • Teachers will pay 20% of the registration fee, which covers housing, meals, and programming for the week.
  • Registration costs will be waived entirely for teachers who have not taught in the past five years to celebrate our return to a full week of Summer Institute and to encourage fresh faces to apply,

(Registration prices have not been set yet.)

As a non-profit, NHC asks teachers to contribute to costs of running Institute when they are able; any amount that teachers pay at registration will be considered a tax-deductible donation. Additionally, teachers must join NHC, which has membership dues of $60 per adult or $120 per family.

How do I submit a course proposal?

Fill out an online proposal form.

If it’s easier for you, you can enter your information in a separate document and then copy or paste the text into the appropriate text entry area on the online form. NOTE: After submitting, you should receive an email acknowledging that your application was received and including a copy of the application.

Please contact us by email at courses@havurah.org if you have questions about submitting your proposal online. Thanks for submitting your course proposals by the deadline.

How many course proposals can I submit?

You may submit up to two course proposals for consideration. Please complete the online form in its entirety for each course you are submitting.

When will I be notified if my course was accepted?

The Course Committee will notify you of the status of your proposal by the end of February. Teachers of accepted courses will be asked at that time to commit to teach at the 2024 Institute and to fill out the registration form with added questions about their biographies.

We receive many course proposals, and we regret that we cannot accept them all. Should your class not fit into this year’s mix, we may suggest that you resubmit the course for a future Institute, or offer a brief version as a workshop at this year’s Institute. We appreciate your understanding that not all proposed courses can fit into a given year’s program.

What are other ways that I can teach at Institute?

Anyone attending the Summer Institute is welcome to propose a workshop on any relevant topic. Workshops typically take place between courses and are a shorter duration. Information on how to present a workshop will be posted separately. On a smaller scale, you can teach a folk song or niggun (wordless melody) during group singing experiences or share your relevant knowledge during a class discussion. Opportunities to teach are abundant since we are a community that is always learning!

Submit Proposal

Deadlines

Submit your course proposals online by Tuesday, January 16, 2024. We will notify you regarding the status of your application by February 16, 2024 so that you have time to make travel plans. You may submit up to two course proposals; please complete the online form for each course.

For further information, contact the Course Committee at courses@havurah.org.

 

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