Steiner Summer Yiddish Program: FAQ


Who should apply to the program?
The program is open to students and recent graduates between the ages of 18 and 29 who are either currently enrolled in a postsecondary education program (at least one year of undergraduate coursework is required) or have recently graduated. 

Why is there an age limit for program participants?
The Steiner Summer Yiddish Program is geared specifically toward college-age students. We aim to create a cohort of peers who will learn together. Because of this program dynamic, we accept students between the ages of 18 and 29. The Yiddish Book Center offers a variety of other programs for people of all ages. Please check out our educational programs for an overview of the Yiddish Book Center’s language and cultural opportunities. 

If I live locally, can I commute to the Center instead of living in the Hampshire College dorms?
No. All students will be required to live in the Hampshire College dorms during the program. The close-knit community developed through a residential setting is an important part of the Steiner Summer Yiddish Program.

What will be my weekly commitment?
The program requires a full-time commitment for seven weeks; you should not plan to work on your graduate studies or work during that time. For more information about program logistics and activities, check out our logistics page.

What’s it like to be in an intensive language program?
Intense! One day of language instruction in an intensive program is the equivalent of one week of instruction in a traditional college classroom course. Consistent attendance and participation in all classes and activities are required. Students should be prepared to work and practice each day, including weekends, to keep up in the program.

Do you accept international applications?
Yes, international students are welcome to apply. 

When is the deadline to apply for the program? When are acceptance decisions announced?
The deadline to apply for the 2024 Steiner Summer Yiddish Program is February 5, 2023. All applicants will be notified of our decisions by March 12, 2023.

Do I need to know some Yiddish?
No prior knowledge of Yiddish is required for the beginner class, but we look for students who are capable of intensive language study and are enthusiastic about spending their summer learning about Yiddish language and culture.

I am an intermediate speaker. Can I take the culture course?
Yes. Intermediate students who have strong language backgrounds but have not studied Yiddish culture in depth may opt to enroll in the culture course rather than participate in the internship program.

I attended the program as a beginner, and now I am applying for the intermediate level. Do I need to resubmit all my application materials?
If you are applying as a returning student, you do not need to submit new letters of recommendation. You also do not need to resubmit your transcript unless it has been updated since you last applied. You must submit a new application form, personal statement, and the Yiddish essay for intermediate students.

How competitive is the application process? What do you look for in candidates?
Admission to the program is competitive. A distinctive aspect of our program is the sense of community that develops due to its small size (around eighteen students) and residential setting. We try to choose students who will contribute to the group through their maturity, creativity, and personal interests. We encourage applicants who were not admitted the first time to apply again.

Whom should I contact to discuss disability accommodations? 
To discuss possible disability accommodations, contact Gretchen Fiordalice

What Jewish religious spaces or practices are available on campus or in the surrounding area?
We respect individual religious practices and try to avoid scheduling events that would raise a conflict for anyone. Students with differing levels of Shabbos observance have found ways to make the program work for them. Those who don’t ride on Shabbos have davened on their own or left early enough on Friday to spend Shabbos elsewhere. There is a Reconstructionist synagogue in Amherst and a Chabad House on the UMass campus, within biking distance (5 miles). Students who drive on Shabbos sometimes attend services in Northampton at the Conservative shul or the Reform congregation. Students often enjoy getting together for potluck Shabbos dinners. Some kosher food is available in local supermarkets.

What do alumni of the program go on to do?
Many Steiner participants continue their study of Yiddish language and culture. Many have gone on to careers in fields related to Yiddish and Jewish culture in academia, the arts, and at cultural organizations—including, in some cases, the Yiddish Book Center.

“The Steiner experience felt as though someone was taking me by the hand, opening the door, and letting me into a world that I had been staring through the window of.”
2022 Steiner Program student