Argentinian Seminario Students Study Here Toward B.A.

Argentinian Seminario Students Study Here Toward B.A.

In January, Adrian Herbst, Claudia Kreiman, Bettina Shneider, and Gustavo Suraszki arrived on campus for a newly-initiated exchange program between the University and the Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a result of the one-year program, the students will receive a bachelor’s degree in Judaic Studies.

“We love it here,” says Bettina, 23, as the others nod in agreement. “The campus is beautiful. Everything works so efficiently. We look around and we realize – this is the first world!” She gives an example: “Here at the University there are long lines of copy machines waiting for the students,” not vice versa being the implication.

“In Israel, I am studying next to the fountain. I could not ask for more!” says 21-year-old Claudia. While she looks forward to a career in teaching, Bettina and the two male students are studying for their rabbinical ordination.

Gustavo, 26, and Adrian, 24, have completed six years of pre-rabbinical studies at the Seminario and will become Conservative rabbis after completing an additional year of studies at the Jerusalem branch of the Conservative Movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary. Gustavo says he was particularly interested in the lay topics of Judaism—the Hebrew language, the history and geography of Israel – when he decided to study at the Seminario.

“But all of that changed once I started studying,” he says. “All of a sudden I felt more of a connection to limudei kodesh, the religious subjects – Tanach [Bible], Halacha [Jewish law], tradition.”
Before coming to Israel, all of the students were active members of the Buenos Aires Jewish community. Gustavo served as a “Seminarista,” a Seminary student who performs the duties of a Rabbi, in a community synagogue. Adrian held the same position in a Jewish grade school. Bettina and Claudia taught classes in Hebrew, Jewish traditions, and Bar Mitzvah preparation. Originally from Santiago, Chile, Claudia, the daughter of a rabbi, explains that her life has always revolved around the Jewish community. “Growing up, I realized there is always more to learn about my religion,” she says. “I want to learn, but I also want to share what I have learned.”
“My mother taught Talmud in the same community thirty years ago, so this was especially meaningful to me,” Claudia remarks. A social worker and teacher, Claudia’s mother worked alongside her father in the Jewish community. On July 18, 1994, her mother was killed in the bombing of the Jewish Agency headquarters in Buenos Aires.
“My mother taught us to give as well as receive,” Claudia reflects. “I like to think that I am carrying on the work of my mother.”

Yacov Gotal, Director of the Division of Public Affairs’ Latin American Desk at the University and the coordinator of the unique B.A. program, explains that the one-year course is only one facet of the arrangement between the University and the Seminario. With the cooperation of Dr. Alberto Spolski, the President of the Buenos Aires Friends of the University and Vice President of the Seminario, and Dr. Daniel Feinstein, the Dean of the Seminario, University professors go to the Seminario for semester-long sabbaticals. The University also supplies books to enrich the Seminario’s library.
“I hope that the students will get to know Israel and Israeli youngsters,” Gotal says. “We are very happy to have them here with us, and we are looking forward to a productive year.”

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