It’s been a long semester, papers seem never-ending, and exams are looming. Anyone interested in a free winter break in the Florida Keys?
While some might be planning their annual ski trips, Snorkel and Study is a winter break option that has Jewish college students from campuses all over the globe clamoring to sign up.
Snorkel and Study runs Jan 1-8, 2009, at Mariners Resort in Key Largo, Florida, and offers full scholarships to qualified applicants.
Created by the international outreach organization Bais Chana Women International, Snorkel and Study – for women only – isn’t the typical winter break trip promoted to college students. Most focus on the cool recreational activities they offer and avoid references to educational content, references often seen as the antithesis to a college vacation.
Bais Chana takes a bolder approach and promotes Jewish learning that addresses the student experience. Rather than advocating escapism, Bais Chana attracts participants by tackling real life issues and speaking directly to college women about what matters most in their lives.
Students come with big questions about life and about Judaism: “Why should I believe in G-d?” “What’s the Jewish approach to dating and marriage?” “How is Judaism relevant to my life and my aspirations?” “What can I do to become a better person?”
Snorkel and Study focuses on these questions, providing a stimulating and enriching environment where participants find the space to discover their deeper values and Jewish heritage.
Sarah Gilbert, an alumna from Rockland College in New York remarked, “This week will stay with me forever – I’ve developed a better sense of myself and who I want to be.”
The faculty at Snorkel and Study includes Rivkah Slonim of Binghamton University and Miriam Lipskier of Emory University, both of whom run campus Chabad Houses and are well-attuned to the concerns and experiences of students. Slonim and Lipskier teach alongside Rabbi Manis Friedman, an acclaimed educator and philosopher who’s lectured all over the globe for every age group.
The range of topics may appear daunting at first – from Jewish medical ethics and the Biblical story of Eve to frank discussions about love and marriage and the Kabbala of women’s mitzvot. But Marissa from UC Santa Barbara notes that it’s “an amazing and intense learning experience for any woman with a curious and open mind” and that staff is available to talk pretty much around the clock.
The annual winter break trip delivers on the snorkel promise as well as the study, with activities including wave-riding, jet-skiing and full access to the resort’s spa facilities. This unorthodox approach has proven a huge success in balancing the study schedule and in forging the deep friendships that are another powerful feature of the trip.
“The level of friendship and connection that was achieved in just a matter of days was completely unexpected. I’ve made the most incredible friendships here.” Said Brittany from Binghampton, NY.
This January students will arrive from across the globe, herald from every continent and span the entire spectrum of the Jewish community. After just one week they’ll leave with an increased connection to their Judaism and with meaningful, lasting friendships.
“It was a great crash-course in Judaism,” said Yana, a Georgia State student who hails from Uzbekistan. ”I arrived knowing a little but left with a lot – new friends, memories and knowledge. Amazing.”
To see what other students are saying about Snorkel and Study, to listen to sample classes or to apply online, visit www.snorkelandstudy.org. For more information, call 800.473.4801.