About the Great Jewish Books Summer Program

July 24–29, 2022

At the Yiddish Book Center's Great Jewish Books Summer Program, rising high school juniors and seniors read selections from important works of modern Jewish literature and consider how they speak to the opportunities and challenges we face today. Under the guidance of college professors, they consider how the rich legacy of modern Jewish literature can inform us in the twenty-first century.

“I have gained more from the program than I ever could have hoped for. It introduced me to a world of Jewish literature and culture and made me interested in continuing to explore this part of my heritage.”

— Great Jewish Books student

Although the program’s focus is on reading, this is not school in any conventional sense: Great Jewish Books is a lively program full of social, cultural, and recreational opportunities—and no grades—for students who read for the love of reading and who are eager to discover the treasures of the Jewish canon.

Participants spend their days at the Yiddish Book Center, immersed in a lively world of Jewish culture, and live in dorms on the nearby campus of Hampshire College. View the program activities here.

Every admitted participant receives a scholarship for the full cost of tuition and books.

Great Jewish Books Summer Program Video 2016

Great Jewish Books students:

"My experience was absolutely incredible.  The texts we read were so interesting and diverse, and discussion was always lively." 
— Great Jewish Books student

  • read and discuss important works of modern literature by a diverse range of writers such as Franz Kafka, Sholem Aleichem, Grace Paley, Clarice Lispector
  • learn from college faculty, meet prominent guest authors, and engage with one another in peer discussion groups and partner meetups
  • develop skills for literary analysis and self-expression that will prepare them for college
  • discover how modern literature connects them to ancient traditions and contemporary ideas
  • connect with other teenagers from across North America and beyond, and make lasting friendships

Students at Great Jewish Books come from a wide variety of backgrounds, Jewish affiliations, and experiences. We welcome people with multiple heritages, people of color, LGBTQ+ participants, and non-Jewish participants. Anyone who has an interest in Jewish literature and culture is welcome to apply. 

Follow us on Instagram at @greatjewishbooks to see photos from previous years, news from the Center, and updates on this year's program.

Great Jewish Books students having a discussion on the grass

Support for the Great Jewish Books Summer Program has been provided by Walter, Arnee, Sarah, and Aaron Winshall, with additional funding from the Michael H. Baker Family Foundation, Saul Kurlat, Dr. René and Michele Lerer, Sheldon and Barbara Rothblatt, Barbara Seril, Robert and Nina Schor, Joe Silverman, and a small group of additional donors.