Personal Learning Program

The Personal Learning Program captures the majority of hours in each Fellow’s week. The particular content of the experience, and the specific learning and volunteer activities, differ from Fellow to Fellow and are chosen to reflect the goals and learning needs of each individual. The Personal Learning Program invites Fellows to stretch beyond their comfort zone while developing the skills and characteristics necessary to enhance their leadership potential. 

The DFI values the following as critical ingredients for communal leadership: 

  • Hebrew and Jewish literacy
  • A sophisticated understanding of Israel
  • A sophisticated understanding of the challenges and opportunities of contemporary Jewry
  • A high degree of Emotional Intelligence and aptitude in the skills and characteristics necessary for the exercise of leadership

Fellows, in collaboration with DFI Educators, develop a Personal Learning Program that focuses upon those ingredients most in need of development. The particular activities of a Fellow’s program may include a combination of ulpanim (Hebrew learning programs), private tutors and courses of study in a variety of learning institutions, as well as self-designed programs of personal study and exploration. In short, Fellows are encouraged to think as creatively as possible about the means by which they can engage their passions, develop their skills and increase their capacity to make the contributions in life they wish to make. 

In the past, Fellows have volunteered in hospitals, news media, environmental organizations, branches of government, domestic violence shelters, civil rights organizations, with youth at risk, with Shoah survivors, and in peace and dialogue organizations and more. Fellows have learned in various yeshivot and have conducted private tutorials with Israeli academics, rabbis and leading figures in the arts, the social service sector, and government. They have created new initiatives, new programs and even new organizations. They have taught courses, hiked across the country, learned languages, created award-winning films and engaged in a variety of artistic endeavors. 

Each Personal Learning Program must include a minimum of 25 hours of Dorot-related activities (Learning and Volunteering) per week. 

The Personal Learning Program begins with the Comprehensive Consultation in August, a meeting between each Fellow and the DFI Educators. DFI Educators must approve all elements of a Fellow’s Personal Learning Program. Subsequent changes must also be negotiated with and approved by the DFI Educators. 

Fellows may be encouraged to manage their activities concurrently or to concentrate on one component of the experience at a time. (For example, Fellows whose Hebrew is not yet conversational are urged to begin the year learning Hebrew intensively.) It is expected that Fellows will alter their program throughout the year, with the approval of the DFI Educators, as their needs, interests and skills evolve. 

Fellows are typically not permitted to engage in professional training as an element of the Personal Learning Program. (A lawyer may certainly take a course in Jewish law, though a mathematician may not take a seminar in mathematical modeling.) 

Fellows may not participate in degree-seeking programs during the course of the Fellowship.