How are you different than other programs?
There are a number of things that make our program unique:
A. A heterogeneous staff. Our staff members include Rabbis who have studied at a broad range of Yeshivot, including Mir and Kerem B’Yavneh, Chaim Berlin and Gush, Yeshiva University and Torah V’Da’as. This provides students with an understanding and appreciation of different perspectives on Torah Judaism.
B. A heterogenous and mature student body. Our students come from varying backgrounds, religiously, academically and professionally. If you are looking to be studying with people who are all “just like you,” we may not be the right place! Our program is academically rigorous, attracting students from first tier universities, but you will find yourself with men who have studied philosophy, literature, law, medicine, engineering, computers, Jewish studies, and many other subjects. Our students range in age from about twenty-two into their forties, and sometimes even older. Many have just completed their undergraduate studies, while some are between graduate studies and the beginning of their career, and others are established professionally, taking a leave of absence. What they have in common is a desire to become knowledgeable in Torah, improve their character traits, grow personally and spiritually, and increase their connection to G-d.
C. A professional and proven method for teaching independent textual skills, something we have been doing successfully for over 25 years. We literally “wrote the book” on how to do this — Understanding The Talmud: A Systematic Guide to Talmudic Structure and Methodology (author: Rabbi Yitzchak Feigenbaum, Darche Noam Publications). Our classes are small (average of 8 – 10) and emphasize interactive learning and dialogue with the text, rather than frontal lectures. We have 8 levels of Talmud ensuring each student finds the level appropriate to him. Our method also ensures that you will develop the skills to learn chumash and other texts in the original, on your own.
Does the Yeshiva have a particular hashkafa/philosophy?
Yes in the true sense, although it isn”t something that can be encapsulated in a thirty second sound bite or a label. We believe that serious Torah study, Torah values, Halachic observance, devotion to the Jewish people & Eretz Yisrael, and character refinement define the foundation of Jewish life. These are the primary, core values that define the Yeshiva”s philosophy. When it comes to issues about which there are differing perspectives within the Torah world, we try to present a spectrum of the halachic and ideological streams in the Torah-observant world. Each student is then encouraged and assisted in finding the Torah approach that speaks to his neshama. Studying with Rabbis who have different perspectives on these issues enables the student to develop in a way that is appropriate for him, while gaining a respect for those who have a different approach. Our name says it all: “Deracheha Darche Noam,” the Torah”s ways are ways of harmony, and the experience gained during the time studying here nurtures true Ahavat Yisrael.
Can I obtain college credits towards my undergraduate degree?
We work with accredited programs that may be able to provide you with college credits for studying in our yeshiva/midrasha. To check your eligibility, please be in touch with us.  We are also part Yeshiva University’s S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program, which grants credits to students registered at YU’s Yeshiva College or Stern College for Women.
How long will it take before I can learn Gemara on my own?
This question is difficult to answer. Although the structured approach to textual studies developed by Shapell”s does help you get “up and running” as quickly as possible, results vary on many factors, including the background, natural abilities, and effort of each student. Experience shows that most students acquire reasonable independence in one year, and full independence in two years.
Can I come to learn for less than a full year?
Most students try to come for a full year, and we strongly encourage that. However, much can still be accomplished in a shorter time. If you arrive at the beginning of a zman/semester, you do not need to commit to a full year, and many students come for a few months. Please include the intended length of your stay and the reasons for it in your essay. In addition, there are two short zmanim/semesters each year, Elul and a summer session, either of which may be perfect for you if you have only 5 or 6 weeks to study.
Can I come in the middle of the zman/semester?
Because of the structured and developmental nature of our program, this is usually not a good option, since everyone else in the class will have made significant progress before you arrive, and you will find it hard to “catch up”. In exceptional cases a decision to accept a student mid-semester may be made by the Rosh HaYeshiva based on the background of the student and his experience and skills learning Gemara. Please email, call or write us to discuss your particular situation.
Can I learn part-time?
Yes. We have students who are only able to study for a half of the day, either mornings or afternoons, and we do accept students ready to make that commitment. However, we only accept a limited number of part-time students.
Can I come for only 1 or 2 weeks?
For such a short stay we cannot integrate you into the regular class program. However we do have special short-term programs of individualized learning that we can offer. This program involves learning each day (Sunday through Thursday) with different Rabbis from our educational staff. The material covered and the “style” of learning will be up to you and your “chavruta” to decide. The cost of the program varies. Contact our Israel office to discuss your plans.
What if I don’t know very much Hebrew?
As long as you have the most basic Hebrew reading skills, we will find a level appropriate for you.
Do you have Hebrew instruction?
There is 9 hours a week of intensive Hebrew instruction which will develop both your spoken Hebrew as well as your textual skills. Rabbi Fischer, who heads the Hebrew instruction department at the Yeshiva, is well known for his unique approach to teaching Hebrew skills, and you can expect to progress rapidly. See his profile on the faculty page.
How many students are there?
There are usually 65 to 75 students studying at the Yeshiva. Typically, between one quarter and one third of them are married.
What are the ages of the students?
The majority of students are between the ages of 22 and 30. Many of the students are older (in their thirties) having taken time off from their professional careers to come and learn. There are occasionally students who are still in university (19-22), and others who are in their forties and even fifties. We do not accept students who are straight out of high school.
Do I have to live in the dorm?
Unmarried students are encouraged to live in the dormitory, as living with your classmates, close to where you learn, will help maximize your yeshiva experience on many levels. Some students, mostly married, do live outside of the dormitory. If you feel your situation requires that you have your own accommodations, please explain so in your application.
Can you help married couples find housing?
We have two married couples apartments in the Yeshiva for couples studying jointly at Shapell’s and Midreshet Rachel. Many couples find rental apartments either close to the Yeshiva or in other parts of Yerushalayim. While we make every effort to advise couples of available apartments that come to our attention, most couples find success by doing their own search. Flathunting.com has proven to be a particularly valuable resource.
What happens on Shabbat?
Once every three to four weeks there is an “In Yeshiva” Shabbat when all the students enjoy a Shabbat together with one of their rebbeim and his family. On other Shabbatot (“Out Shabbat”) students have a choice of staying with their friends and family or having the Yeshiva arrange an enjoyable Shabbat with alumni and special families all over the country. Twice a year, the entire student body, staff, and their families spend Shabbat in communities outside Jerusalem. These Shabbatonim are among the highlights of the year.
Is there a deadline for applying?
Although there is no formal deadline, space limitations prevent us from accepting all qualified students. Consequently, there is a definite advantage to applying early and reserving your place.
How long will it take after submitting an application until I find out if I am accepted?
After we have received your entire application, including your essay, two letters of recommendation, and photos, you should expect to receive an answer within 7-10 days.
Do I need a student visa?
Yes! All foreign students are required to hold a valid foreign passport and a student visa.Tourists are given an automatic 3-month tourist visa upon entering Israel. Students who will be learning at the yeshiva, will be required to apply for a student visa. The administration team will assist you with this upon your arrival at Shapell’s.
Where is the Yeshiva located?
The Yeshiva is situated in Beit Hakerem, a residential neighborhood in west Jerusalem near the entrance of the city. It is over 80 years old with a rich, historic background, and is populated with a mix of both secular and religious residents. There are parks in the area and plenty of shopping at the nearby plaza, including a supermarket, bank, photo shop, and hardware store. We are a five minute walk to the Renaissance and Park Plaza hotels. The yeshiva is conveniently located next to the He’Chalutz light rail station, which is a five minute ride from the Central Bus Station (about a 15 minute walk).
How far is the Yeshiva from the Kotel?
Approximately 15 minutes by car and a one hour walk.