March 5, 2019
Torah-academic balance fuels a student’s journey from Cape Town to Jerusalem
When Cape Town native Aryeh Ross spent a year studying at the Mayanot yeshiva in Jerusalem, making a permanent move to Israel wasn’t anywhere near the forefront of his mind.
“While I was at yeshiva, I really had totally different plans,” Ross recalls. “I certainly loved Israel. The country has an amazing pull to it — the diversity, the nature, the cities, the culture, and so much more. It really pulled me in. But after yeshiva I went back to South Africa for eight months, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do next. I took a lot of time to figure it out.”
Fast forward to the present, and Ross’s plans are clear. He made Aliyah six months ago and is currently completing his first semester in Jerusalem College of Technology’s (JCT) International Program in English, a unique balance of Torah studies and secular academics which enables students to continue learning with their rabbis in yeshivot in Israel, while concurrently obtaining a high-level academic degree and strong professional training in business or computers.
How did Ross, now 20, get to this point? He discusses his journey from Cape Town to Jerusalem in the following interview.
Q: How did you end up choosing JCT’s International Program?
A: “JCT was always on my mind. I learned about the institution at the end of 2017 through a distant family member. He told me that it was a college for students who are looking to study somewhat secular subjects in a religious environment. I was eager to learn more and did my own research on the International Program.
“I quickly made up my mind — I was going to come to JCT, whether I made Aliyah or not. I knew I really wanted to live in Israel and this was the place I wanted to be, so I did it. It was obvious that no other school could offer me the novel opportunity to maintain a strong focus on both Jewish and secular studies.”
Q: What are your impressions of JCT after one semester at the school?
A: “It was a phenomenal semester. The lecturers at the university are very professional, and they teach in a way that helps me understand the material better. I’m also struck by the great students the university attracts. My classmates are motivated and ambitious. They’re people that really have their sights set on big goals for the future.”
Q: How are your future career and life plans taking shape?
A: “I’m studying business, and I plan to live in Israel forever. Currently I’m doing an internship with The Israel Forever Foundation, working as an executive assistant. But what I’m really looking forward to as I progress in my education are more business-orientated types of positions. The best part about studying business is the kind of learning it offers. Studying business really gives you a whole new mindset. It’s all-encompassing, and it changes your way of thinking about everything.”
Q: What are your thoughts on JCT’s business degree in particular?
A: “I love the degree and especially how it’s structured. Everything is organized in a way to build you a solid foundation for a future career, and to allow you to get practical work experience outside of the classroom, which we all know is crucial. It’s amazing how the International Program enables me to balance Jewish learning, secular academics, and an internship all within a single schedule, without making me feel overwhelmed.”
Q: And how is life in Israel treating you so far?
A: “I couldn’t be happier. Recreationally, I enjoy playing sports and working out. And Jerusalem is a tremendous hub for so many different types of people from all over the world. I really, really love living here.
“Of course, I miss South Africa. Ultimately, I just decided that Israel is the place where I want to be. South Africa is a special place, and the culture there is also fascinating. But Israel is the only place for my future, especially in terms of my personal and professional fulfillment. I’m not sure I would have figured that out if it weren’t for JCT.”
The Jerusalem College of Technology offers an International Program in English on both their men and women campuses. At the Machon Lev Campus for men, located in Givat Mordechai, the program offers a B.A. in Business Administration and a B.S. in Computer Science. At the Machon Tal Campus for women, located in Givat Shaul, the program offers a B.S. in Computer Science. For more information, please visit: http://www.jct.ac.il/en/International-Program-in-English