New Judaic Studies teacher views text from the inside out


Gaby Benelyahu

SCHOLAR: Ms. Ilana Wilner has two master’s degrees, one in education and the other in

By Alec Fields, Torah Editor

With years of Gemara study and two Master’s degrees from YU, Ms. Ilana Wilner brings a love for Jewish learning to school as she becomes the second woman to teach Talmud at Shalhevet.

Ms. Wilner, who formerly taught middle school at SAR in Riverdale, N.Y., will be teaching 10th-grade Tanach, two 11th-grade Talmud classes and 12th-grade Talmud.

What she likes best is to look at sacred text from the inside out. For example, she likes to find “chiastic structures,” which are reverse repetitions that highlight certain themes or ideas. She also likes to anticipate the sages’ opinions.

“I love when you see everything falling together,” said Ms. Wilner. “I also enjoy finding challenges and what can be wrong and jumping ahead to what the Gemara could say.”

Ms. Wilner earned a master’s in Gemara by completing the Graduate Program for Advanced Talmudic Studies at Yeshiva University. She also received a Master’s in Education there, and heard about Shalhevet’s new Judaic Studies curriculum.

She saw the new curriculum in action when she came to interview.

“The Talmud curriculum is really amazing and innovative,” said Ms. Wilner. “I was very interested in how it works and I loved seeing it put into practice.”

Ms. Wilner enjoys reading, listening to country music, and walking, which is harder to do in her new home of Los Angeles than it was in New York.

“It’s very trivial, but no one here walks and I like to walk,” said Ms. Wilner. “That’s one thing I’ll miss.”

Principal Reb Noam Weissman said that Ms. Wilner would make an important contribution.

“That sort of role model is exactly what we’re looking for,” said Reb Weissman. “She has a real skill set and she is going to be a great team player and a great addition to the Judaic staff.”

Two years ago, Judaic Studies and math teacher Ms. Atara Segal became the first woman to teach Gemara in an Orthodox day school in Los Angeles.