Why would a Jewish university launch a Jewish studies program for Christian students? Yeshiva University (YU), in partnership with the Philos Project, has launched a groundbreaking program that offers a Master’s in Jewish Studies specifically designed for Christian students.
The innovative initiative draws from the increasing interest of Christians in understanding the Jewish origins of their faith.
“The Hebraic Studies Program for Christian Students fits perfectly into the mission of the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies and the broader mission of Yeshiva University – which is focused on a commitment to using the tools of the academy to enhance understanding of Jewish religious and cultural heritage,” said Daniel Rynhold, Dean of the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies.
The program is not only academic in nature but also aims to foster deeper interfaith understanding and dialogue. "Christian students will hopefully gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the Hebraic roots of Christianity, which would be helpful to emerging religious and cultural leaders as well as encourage further understanding and cooperation between faiths," Rynhold added.
Why do Christians want to study Jewish studies at Yeshiva University?
Robert Nicholson, president and executive director of the Philos Project, expressed his enthusiasm about the initiative, “As America’s premier Orthodox Jewish institution of higher learning, Yeshiva University offers the ideal opportunity for traditional Christians looking to deepen their understanding of Jewish history, texts, and ideas. I meet many Christians interested in the Jewish context of their faith and asking to go deeper. This program is the perfect place to do just that.”
Nicholson is also co-founder and board member of Passages Israel, an Israel trip for young Christians.
The program officially commenced in June 2023 and has drawn students from various regions, including Mozambique, Texas, California, Virginia, and Nebraska. This initiative promises to be an enriching platform for Christian students seeking to deepen their understanding of Judaism, facilitating not only academic growth but also promoting interfaith understanding and cooperation.
The Philos Project is a nonprofit organization that aims to promote positive Christian engagement in the Near East, which includes regions such as Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, and others. Their mission is to promote understanding and partnership between Christians and Jews based on shared values and mutual respect. They aim to facilitate experiences, provide resources, and produce original research that encourages thoughtful exploration and leads to practical action on a range of topics, including understanding and appreciating the Jewish roots of Christianity.