Co-designer of Shalhevet’s Judaic Studies curriculum joins the faculty

Mati Hurwitz, Torah Editor

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By Mati Hurwitz, Torah Editor

An Ivy League engineer and co-author of Shalhevet’s new Judaic Studies curriculum, Rabbi David Stein is teaching Talmud and Tanach.

“Rabbi David Stein is someone who represents the best in Modern Orthodoxy,” said Judaic Studies Director Mr. Noam Weissman. “He is a true Torah scholar and is equally well versed in general sciences.”

“How can we not hire him?” he added.

A native of Skokie, Ill., Rabbi Stein attended Yeshiva University, where he roomed with Mr. Weissman during their undergraduate years. He received a Master’s Degree in engineering from Columbia University in 2011.

He previously worked in a lab in Princeton, N.J., developing rockets that would be able to support sending humans to Mars. Rabbi Stein also worked designing skyscrapers in a New York engineering firm last year, but he left science for education.

After leaving YU, Rabbi Stein and Mr. Weissman spent more than three years studying and communicating in order to develop Shalhevet’s now two-year-old Judaic Studies curriculum. Both said their extensive talks included frequent phone calls and emails.

“I love teaching and I’ve always been involved in Judaic studies,” Rabbi Stein said. “The curriculum is at a really exciting phase so this is a good opportunity to take it to the next step.”

Their goal, he said, was to change how Judaic Studies are taught.

“Most schools will take a Gemara and learn it straight,” Rabbi Stein said in an interview. “We are trying to illuminate the relevance of Jewish Studies in a modern world.”

Rabbi Stein said he would use his experience of spending 15 summers as a camper, counselor and program director at Camp Moshava in Wild Rose, Wisc., to teach and connect to the students. After spending last year as rabbi of the Rimon Center in East Windsor, NJ, this year he is teaching students in all four grades — 9th grade Honors Talmud, 10th grade regular Talmud, 11th Grade Honors Talmud and 12th grade Tanach.

It will be a chance to test his original curriculum goals first-hand.

“Over all four years we will take students through the process of how halachik decisions are made,” Rabbi Stein said.

Growing up Rabbi Stein attended Hillel Torah Day School and Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Chicago, before learning in Yeshivat Har Etzion (“Gush”) in Israel for two years. He graduated from Yeshiva University’s Honors Program in 2009 and received rabbinic ordination in 2011 from YU.

Along with his wife Talya, who works for The H.E.L.P. Group in Sherman Oaks, Rabbi Stein just moved to Los Angeles over the summer.

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