When it was founded in 1921, Hebrew College was meant to be another of the eleven Hebrew Teacher’s Colleges in the country. It taught all courses in Hebrew at the start, and although most courses are now English (with exceptions in language courses and studies of Jewish texts); they still maintain a “commitment to the importance of Hebrew language as a conveyor of Jewish culture” and ensure graduates are at least passably fluent by the time they graduate.
Today, Hebrew College, located near Boston, Massachusetts in Newton Centre, is an accredited college of Jewish studies, offering undergrad and graduate degrees. Created as part of the Hebraist movement in America in the first half of the twentieth century, it saw the need not only to further create a sound Hebrew culture in the US, but with the influx of immigration in the years leading to World War II, professional training outside of education would soon be needed. Hebrew College fought to give sound training in the Hebrew tradition to the mass of incoming Jews escaping Europe, allowing not only a resurgence of the Hebrew language in America, but Hebrew culture in the professional world.
Majors at Hebrew College are steeped in Jewish tradition, from education to rabbinical studies (an intensive five year program ending in ordination), and are offered regardless of age or work life. Though still a primarily a teacher’s school, Musical Studies (education in the sacred music of the Hebrew culture) and Educational Administration are also offered. Their library facilities house some 125,000 books, including traditional Hebrew texts and many original documents, and their partnership with the Research Libraries Information Network allows for online access to millions of additional Judaica collections around the world.
Hebrew College has been a “pioneer” in creating online Jewish studies, looking to “aggressively” expand their distance learning degree programs to include more programs and opportunities for Jewish education. They offer accredited degree programs completely online, or through hybrid course, meant to expand adult Hebrew learning to Master’s degrees, whether they are able to attend classes or are too busy working to achieve higher education. They were the first college anywhere to offer “the Internet’s first MA in Jewish Studies” back in 2000 and have grown since to offer a Master’s of Jewish Education and Jewish Liberal Studies. In addition to a handful of certificate programs, they have also created a doctoral degree program in Jewish Educational Leadership through a partnership with Northeastern University in nearby Boston, utilizing the resources of both schools. The EdD degree can be completed entirely online, or can be done with hybrid classes taken at either school and is able to be completed in three years, regardless of the format it is taken in.
Online and hybrid classes at Hebrew College are flexible, allowing one to learn as their schedule permits, whether that is through one course at a time, or several. The college looks to craft “skillful Jewish leaders, capable of addressing 21st century challenges” and has created online programs that do just that. They also offer undergraduate online courses (nothing completely degreeable without campus work, but a great number to help busy students balance life and school) as well as an online Hebrew Placement Test, designed to figure what level of Hebrew schooling is right for you.
With a sound history of strengthening and teaching the Hebrew community of America, Hebrew College continues to advance their cooperatives and resources to each new generation, ensuring tradition isn’t lost just because the world changes around it.