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Rabbi hosts UA course in home

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Rodney Haas | The Daily Wildcat Rodney Haas / Arizona Daily Wildcat Rabbi Yosef Winner reads from a book titled "Sinai Scholars" at the Chabad on Thursday, Jan. 28 2010.

The UA Chabad Jewish Center is starting their fourth semester of the Sinai Scholars Society, a course about the Ten Commandments.


Sinai Scholars is a weekly course, led by Rabbi Yossi Winner at the Chabad Center. This is a joint program with the center and the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. The course is being offered at 50 different campuses nationwide.

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The center is different from many other religious affiliations because it is the Rabbi's home, which is near campus on Euclid Ave. The Rabbi and his family welcome students to learn about the Jewish faith, attend services and eat.


Students who have recently moved away from home have the opportunity to be nourished and grow as individuals in a comfortable environment.


Winner enjoys the home-like atmosphere he provides for students.


""What is unique about Chabad on campus is (that) literally the family lives on campus and gives the students a home and a place to enrich their lives and their heritage.""


The course, entitled Wisdom From Sinai: Revolutionary Ideas that Judaism Introduced to the World, allows students to understand the significance of the Ten Commandments and their relevance in today's society.


Each lesson begins with the students presenting their questions, opinions and views in an open and non-judgmental discussion.


""The idea of Sinai Scholars is for students to discover, ask and question on their own,"" Winner said. ""Each lesson is a springboard for a discussion, and we don't only focus on that specific commandment. We also focus on what the underlined theme and message of that commandment involves.""


In Judaism, the Ten Commandments have been a foundation of moral and ethical beliefs for thousands of years.


""We want to better understand why God is giving these commandments,"" Winner said. ""Within the Ten Commandments, there are very practical commandments, such as honoring your parents, keeping Shabbat, don't steal.""


Each student shares their views about how they interpret each commandment.


The class of 21 students meets on a weekly basis for eight weeks and discusses each commandment and how it relates to their lives and society as a whole.


Harrison Siskin, a sociology sophomore, participated in Sinai Scholars in the spring of 2009 and had an extremely positive experience.


""Sinai Scholars provided me with a further education about Judaism in a social environment,"" Siskin said. 


Siskin is a strong advocate of the Chabad's programs and events.


""I would definitely recommend a Jewish college student to participate in Sinai Scholars because of the interactive style of learning and the important aspects of Judaism one takes with them into their own life,"" he said.


A distinct feature of this course is that it addresses significant issues in the modern world and how the ancient Ten Commandments still relate and continue to provide guidance for those today.


Abby Gelb, a pre-pharmacy sophomore, is enrolled for this semester's Sinai Scholars and is looking forward to starting the program.


""I am excited about learning more about the religion and maintaining the traditions,"" she said.


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