Many obstacles stand between Yungerleit and the professional workforce. Many are reluctant to give up on the dream of impacting and inspiring others. Others are discouraged by the challenges of shifting from the structure and environment of Kollel to that of university or the workplace. Yet others lack a defined career path or the means to pursue it.
A new program of The Norfolk Kollel seeks to address these issues. Through a partnership with ECPI University, a highly regarded technical college, they have developed a combination, accelerated bachelor’s degree in cyber-security and Kollel program. Participants will learn one seder with the Kollel while earning their bachelor’s degree in eighteen months (rather than the regular thirty months). A Bachelors in Network and Cyber Security opens doors to high paying jobs (annual mean salary of $90,000), with promising opportunities for growth.
Upon graduating, with the assistance of the University’s extensive relationships with employers, participants will be able to find employment in the local substantial (more than 17,000 open cybersecurity jobs with starting salaries over $80,000), and rapidly growing, job market.
As alumni of the Kollel, participants will continue to contribute to the ongoing growth of the beautiful Torah community of Norfolk, Virginia in ruchnius and gashmius. In the words of Ken Wilson, a local attorney, “Having a group of young men in our community who are learning, going to school and, hopefully securing employment, will inspire the current baalei batim of our community to grow in their learning.”
The program is being received with much excitement by leading rebbeim in the Torah world, who feel that this new model is filling a serious void, and presenting a compelling opportunity for bnei Torah who seek to enter the workforce.
Harav Elya Brudny, shlita, remarked, “The Gemara says ‘hanheg bahem minhag derech eretz.’ Rashi explains ‘with the Torah.’ This program presents a unique opportunity to enter the realm of “derech eretz” while remaining rooted in a kollel framework. This is what Chazal mean when they say “make your Torah keva”. One should not only have set times for learning, but that qualitatively, one’s learning should be in a manner which is keva.”
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