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BUSHEY US ROSH HASHANAH FORUM 2012 - Distance Learning with a Jewish Twist! by Alison Rubenstein

I have recently become very interested in learning more about the many varied and fascinating aspects of Judaism and attended some excellent talks and seminars to find out more. Unfortunately, with a busy schedule and two teenage daughters, it became increasingly difficult to get out and about for my learning and of course the topics were interesting but never of my choosing.  So I had a problem: how could I continue learning but fit it into my week in a more convenient way?

Fortunately I discovered the perfect solution last November when I happen to pick up a flyer advertising the services of PaL (Phone and Learn). Apparently, PaL was an organisation that offered one-to-one Jewish learning over the phone to all Jewish people, no matter what their current age, knowledge or level of observance.  Even better, the progamme claimed to be completely free of charge!

It seemed almost too good to be true but after registering as a 'PaL partner' online, I was quickly matched with my tutor Feigy Schwartz, a mother-of-six from Manchester. Together, we've been studying a variety of topics ranging from the festivals to blessings and Shabbat on a weekly basis.  We've also become firm friends, despite the geographical distance between us.

The PaL concept is based on such a simple but powerful idea: to be able to choose to learn more about any Jewish topics of interest from the comfort of my own home at a time that suits me. I only have to find an hour a week and the flexibility of the system is really convenient. Although the thought of "learning with a stranger over the phone" was daunting at first, I needn't have worried as Feigy and I quickly established a rapport and friendship and we both now really look forward to our learning.

The team in the PaL office has also been very supportive and helpful, from the point of my initial registration to the friendly phone calls I receive every couple of months, checking that I'm still enjoying my learning with Feigy and making study resources available to us.

I would strongly recommend PaL as an option to anyone who wants to increase their Jewish knowledge in a supportive, flexible environment!