The Atra-IYUN Teaching Lab


The Atra-IYUN Teaching Lab:
Building Community Through the Study of Torah

We bring the content and proven methodology, you bring the people and passion.

Apply now!

Rabbis, in the months following October 7th we know that your work has changed in every single way and also not at all. Every single way, because how can we possibly engage our community members amidst the sheer volume of challenges we continue to navigate even months later? Not at all, because the fundamental work remains steadfast: to show up for our people pastorally, to gather them meaningfully, and to teach Torah.

As Jewish spiritual leaders, we know there’s no better way to deepen relationships and build community than through learning together. Indeed, if we learned anything in our rabbinic training, it’s that the practice of studying Torah builds a unique, deeply Jewish kind of relationship among adults unlike anything else. But here’s the thing — you’re busy, you don’t have 80 hours to build high-quality adult education content, and also nobody taught “Building a Vibrant Cohort of Adult Learners” in seminary.

In this unique moment:

  • Do you want to build a community of learners but simply do not have time to craft content from scratch right now?
  • Are you hungry for a rich professional development opportunity with others who “get it” and wish you could access an experience that is both deeply rooted in Jewish wisdom but also practical and doable in execution?
  • Do you need some chevra, i.e. other rabbis with whom you can connect over a sustained period of time, while you launch a project simultaneously and learn on a parallel path?

We are proud to announce the Atra-IYUN Teaching Lab, a unique opportunity for talented clergy to grow adult learning circles in their communities, to gain access to IYUN’s field-tested curricula and resources for free, and to go deep together in learning the skills and pedagogy of relationship-driven, cohort-based Jewish learning.

We bring the content and proven methodology, you bring the people and your passion.


The Details

The Atra-IYUN Teaching Lab is a select learning opportunity open to all spiritual leaders. Lab Participants will gather for four workshops with Atra and IYUN faculty and will be supported to launch an IYUN Circle* in their own community. Lab Participants will have the opportunity to process their teaching experience within our community of practice, as well as to learn accessible and field-tested content and pedagogy to deploy in real time.

All sessions will run from 1:00 – 2:30pm Eastern (10:00am – 11:30am Pacific).
Fellows are invited to bring colleagues from their staff team to join.


Program Dates

Applications due Friday, March 1, 2024.


March 14: Relational Recruitment: Building a Community of Learners
Great educators often spend lots of time reflecting on the best way to “bring the Torah to the people” and may overlook the crucial and underappreciated techniques of “bringing the people to the Torah.” In this workshop, we’ll share a high-touch, relationship based approach to recruiting and developing your learning group.

March 21: The Choreography of Pedagogy
Teaching is a craft that includes a shared parlance among skilled teachers. In this session, we will explore and understand each of these techniques and their purpose, while learning how to create a curated learning journey with the right components. We’ll ask: What are the ingredients of excellent teaching? What pedagogical skills can we refine as educators to “level up” our teaching? How do we reach contemporary adults with our Torah?

March 28: The Art of Asking Great Questions
How do we ask the kinds of questions that can effectively stir our learners’ hearts? In this workshop we will Identify the “habit questions” we get stuck in asking that don’t serve our larger goals, explore how to develop our own questions, and learn a framework for sharpening our questions in order to increase the richness and depth of discussion with our learners.

April 4: Mic Drop: How to Let Your Torah Land
When bringing learners into relationship with a community and Jewish text, we do our best not to lecture when teaching. As thoughtful curators of a learning space, we want to leave people feeling inspired with a clear chiddush from a class. In this session we’ll explore: What is the enduring understanding that we want our learners to explicitly glean from a session? How do we meaningfully close a class by delivering a clear and lasting message?


Your Commitment


About IYUN

IYUN is a cohort-based Jewish learning experience for adults facilitated by local educators, presently operating in 100+ congregations, community centers, federations, Bases, living rooms, and beyond. IYUN builds Jewish community and a love of Torah study for adults, by initiating them into a cohort of peers who explore existential questions through the lens of Torah. Participants:

  • Develop relationships with one another, forming a new Jewish social network.
  • Form a relationship with the local professional who taught the group, and this person serves as a point of contact and gateway to the larger Jewish whole.
  • Look to this group as a space of Jewish practice and celebration.
  • Grow to love and want to continue the study of Torah.

IYUN provides the curriculum, marketing materials, teacher training, and ongoing Help Desk support.

IYUN has developed an approach to create community through learning circles, lovingly known as IYUN Circles. Participants in 8-10 week circles build friendships, are infused with a sense of connection to a community, establish a relationship with a mentor and enhance their love for learning Jewish text. IYUN is engaged in building a network of educators in synagogues, JCCs, Federations and other institutions who convene these learning circles.


Common Questions About IYUN Circles

How do we help someone who's never done Jewish text learning before see themselves as someone who could do regular Jewish learning?

IYUN’s specialty is helping learners develop a love for the study of Torah. Not to master content, or to build fluency, or to understand “what Judaism has to say about…” but to fall in love with Torah. 

We use the word Torah to indicate a way of interacting with rabbinic literature that is sacred, inspiring, and even unsettling at times. Reading Torah means opening ourselves up to the text laying a claim to our lives and our behavior. It is an encounter at a deeply personal level as well, as we are studying our people’s covenantal tradition and not that of another. We can still disagree, argue, and protest what we read in rabbinic literature. And, we can creatively turn it on its head with a better reading. All these are options in Torah. 

It is this kind of experience into which we invite our learners. It’s a lot like falling in love.

How long is each session geared for?

Each session is roughly 90 minutes. You can tighten or lengthen as you wish or as you need — particularly to adapt for Zoom. As we all know, more than an hour on Zoom is…pretty miserable.

Is the curriculum at all tailored for the group/partner organization, or is it one standard one?
We deliver all IYUN materials (including facilitator’s guides and source sheets) as electronically editable documents. That means you can teach the curriculum as-is, plug and play style, or you can spend time to edit, customize, and curate it however you wish. And we are here along the way to help you think about your unique learners and how to craft the experience to meet their needs.

Curious about how IYUN is handling data - do you want contact info of all participants who end up in a cohort? What kind of data do you ask of partner orgs?

We love this question, because we do collect (some) data, and because we take data security very, very seriously. We ask educators to share with us a list of participants, so we can send them a participant survey at the end of their experience. We will never, ever solicit your people. If you’d like to see our comprehensive Data Reporting FAQ, to learn more, or if you have specific questions at this juncture, just say the word.

How does this approach work with a heterogenous group by age or experience/literacy? In other words, how would this work for an intergenerational cohort or a cohort of both experienced and beginner text learners?

IYUN works beautifully for folks of a similar life stage to connect with one another over the big questions at the heart of their lives. That said, IYUN also works nicely for affinity groups. For example, we have run circles for multigenerational groups of women, which is…pure magic.

As far as text experience goes when building a cohort, there is something very rich about a group made up of folks with varied familiarity with Jewish text. In our experience, the ideal ratio is 30/70 — that is, up to 30% experienced learners and 70% without a formal background. That way, the ‘experienced’ voices don’t dominate the conversation, but they can contribute richly.

Click the button below to register and join the Spring 2024 cohort!

Apply Now
Rabbi Lindy Reznick
Atra-IYUN Teaching Fellowship 2023
“The Atra-IYUN Lab reminded me of some core concepts basic to all Torah teaching, and vital in creating a powerful communal based learning experience. This lab provided me with new inspiration and incredible support needed to keep moving forward in my latest creative rabbinic adventures.”