Yeshiva Ventures (YV) is a unique idea, combining the structure and curriculum of a yeshiva with an academic program building technology or creative skills, and an incubator of “student projects” – the best of which become profitable businesses.

Additionally, several student projects drive the production and marketing of “knowledge products”, by following a well-defined process using roles and skills taught in the academic track.

Knowledge is the product of choice today.  The marketing of these knowledge products builds a network of individuals and virtual communities where the knowledge of Chassidus is consumed and shared.  These, in turn, act as distribution channels for digital content, as well as thriving subscriber base.

The premise is that by leveraging the yeshiva students as a labor pool of information workers, following a specific workflow or “algorithm” to produce and

market digital content.

YV possesses several documents outlining detailed algorithms for content production, channel
The following diagram outlines the specific processes and actions for producing digital content and Internet communities from the yeshiva curriculum.  It is evident that these processes require several teams working together, their size growing with the magnitude of production and dissemination.building, and marketing online, along with YV proprietary workflows for content production

The yeshiva curriculum is meant to teach the student the basic principles of Chassidus as well as an appreciation for the deeper dimension and meaning for Tefilah and the performance of Mitzvos.

With this in mind, the YV curriculum in Chassidus is designed for both the student and a wider Internet audience.  Specific tracks include:

  1. Likutey Torah – short segments describing and elaborating on the main principles of the esoteric dimensions of the Torah and Mitzvos.
  2. Biur Tefilah – explanation and meditations in the davening from the drushim of Chassidus Chabad.
  3. Maamarim and Sichos of the Time – including a weekly email/publication.
  4. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch to Gemara (following a halcha to its source)

The niche markets for these courses will obviously be Jewish, Torah, and Mysticism, limiting the many wider markets for content.  However the Jewish and Torah market is several million strong with the overwhelming majority very active on the Internet.

Yeshiva Ventures Structure

The detailed plan for Yeshiva Ventures was refined over two trial phases working with 15 students ages 19-25.  Through the process of trial and error, the idea for YV became clearer with lessons learned from student recruitment, learning/work balance, discipline, and student projects.

Originally, students worked internships in two technology companies; while in phase 2 the student projects were dedicated to the recording and publication of Chassidus.

In the summer phase, students will matriculate in three parallel tracks – governing their academic schedule and work projects (all students share the limudei kodesh curriculum):

  1. Digital Publishing (copywriting, digital graphics, and video production)
  2. Internet Marketing (market segmentation, keyword editing, affiliate channels, eCommerce)
  3. Application Development (programming, mobile/web services)

The following pictures show students in earlier YV terms in the class and project work for a Wall St technology firm.

Following the tradition of the Chabad yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim, our mission is to produce lamplighters, while addressing even the “outer circles” of youth in our community.  In fact, many youth who were rejected from yeshivas and had their observance of Torah and Mitzvos damaged to differing extents, hold great talent and potential, and will far surpass their peers given the right opportunity.

The “right opportunity” for our student-candidate population includes practical work skills, purpose, and experience in team work and time management.

Students are organized into teams based on academic level, productivity, and dedication. Some students focus on programming and mobile application development, serving as the next generation of programmers for the YV Incubator.  Other students focus on digital content creation and Internet marketing.  All students share the yeshiva classes and Tefilah.

Sample Schedule

Time Activity Location
07:00  – 08:00 Chassidus Aliya
08:00 – 09:30 Tefilah & Shulchan Aruch Aliya
10:00 – 14:00 Academic Instruction Geshem, Aliya, Online
15:00 – 16:00 Mincha and Team Instruction Aliya
16:00 – 19:00 Project Work Aliya

All students begin their day with a Chassidus class, which is video recorded including lecture notes, original texts (Likutey Torah, Maamarim, Tanya), etc.

Depending on the number of students/classes, there should be multiple classes simultaneously based on student level.  Chassidus is followed by davening (all classes combining for davening), Shulchan Aruch, and breakfast.

Following breakfast, students go to their individual academic instruction.  Some students will be going through self-paced courses online (, Newton Academy, or Internet marketing courses).  Others will be attending courses at the Geshem Center, etc.

After the academic period, students have time to eat lunch and a little personal time, before reconvening in the beis medrash for mincha and their individual projects.  For projects, students are divided into teams by experience and specialty, working on either technology projects or turning the class resources and video into digital assets.



This plan is for a yeshiva program combining limudei kodesh with three different professional development tracks in Application Development, Internet Publishing, and Management.

  • The yeshiva serves Crown Heights youth ages 18-30
  • Preference for students currently outside of yeshiva or work programs
  • Students are paid weekly stipends of $150 while participating in a full time program combining Torah with academics and project work experience.
  • The yeshiva instructors forms a board of directors for a startup incubator focusing on Internet services and media
  • The best students form small teams tasked with producing digital media content and new web applications according to the skills and specialty in their academic track.


The “Why”….

It is the highest and most exalted Mitzvah is to tend to the material wellbeing of the community.  Beginning with the Baal Shem Tov, and with every succeeding President of the Jewish Nation (Nasi HaDor), attention to the physical (financial) well being of the Jewish Nation was a prime concern, even preceding the study of Torah!

Particularly in recent years, the “new capital” introduced into our community was diminishing, and more families were requiring Tzedakah for basic subsistence.

Today, a new generation comes of age to find itself unemployed, and unexpressed.  Incredible talent lies dormant, welting away in frustration of not being discovered.  This is the state of poverty described in the Gemara regarding the days preceding the coming of Moshiach…

The $ Value in Knowledge Marketing on the Internet

At the same time, the new Internet economy brings new hope.  It makes it possible to create and market a new type of media product – “knowledge products”.  Developed quickly and cheaply, digital media products build up equity value in the form of digital assets and subscription channels.

Specifically the invention of “knowledge products” and the industry of “virtual / video learning”, makes it possible to build hundreds of channels – each with thousands of members consuming and producing knowledge.  This is truly a fulfillment of the Rambam’s ruling regarding the Days of Moshiach.

It’s important to remember that “online media” of which knowledge marketing is a large niche, is a $91billion market in 2012.  Combined with the market for Internet web services and economics of social networks – yeshiva ventures and its incubator are potentially the much-needed salvation for our community.

Recruiting and Selection

  1. Between Aliya’s extended network and minimum advertising – estimated 200-400 candidates ages 18-25 without any plans for employment or yeshiva learning, etc.
  2. Selection process – 2 weeks – select 16 students based on selection criteria
  3. Of initial 16 students:
    1. 30% are expected to drop during first 2 weeks
    2. 50% expected to graduate
    3. 30% expected to find employment or startup ventures
    4. YV will only fund academic training for the top 4-6 students (costing $3K-$5K per student)
    5. The rest of the students will go through online training courses while supervised by YV instructors (costing $200-$500 per student)

Yeshiva Tracks

  1. Students are grouped into two classes according to learning skill and motivation
  2. Classes are in Aliya’s beis medrash and include Chassidus, collective davening, and a shiur in Niglah:
    1. Regular class will be taught by R. Moishe Feiglin, covering Tanya and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch.
    2. The advanced class will be taught by R. Ronnie Rendel, covering Tanya with Likutey Torah, and Gemara/Shulchan Aruch
    3. The instructors are also responsible for the attendance and progress of the students assigned to their class

Academic Tracks

  1. All students participate in academic instruction between 3-5 hours per day
  2. Students are offered academic opportunities based on skills, consistency, and performance
  3. Academic tracks are offered in three general categories:
    1. Web publishing
    2. Internet programming
    3. Mobile (iPhone) application development
    4. Depending on student need, YV may offer an accelerated GED program offered in house at Aliya – preparing students for college level learning
    5. Students with affinity for programming and analytical thinking will be offered paid training in web programming and iPhone development
    6. Chaim Lezerous, a Columbia University Film School graduate, will be offering an intensive web video production course
    7. Students not selected for GED, programming, or video course above will be learning basic office skills in self paced online courses

Counseling, Guidance, and Discipline

  1. A unique advantage to YV is that instructors follow the student’s progress through academics and project work, ensuring the student is fully applying himself
  2. Students are offered small cash incentives for attendance and participation in classes and training
  3. Accelerated students in the advanced academic tracks above will be offered a weekly stipend of up to $150, depending on their weekly grade for attendance, skill, and value.
  4. YV instructors also act as career counselors, helping the students build their portfolio or resumes, applying for work, and continuing education

Student Projects and Startup Incubator

  1. Each student is required to complete projects based on his academic program (ranging from word processing to programming to application development and video productions)
  2. The projects are assigned by their academic instructors along with their class instructor, and it is the class instructor’s responsibility to ensure the student completes his project work
  3. For students in the accelerated technology tracks, their (later) projects begin forming a portfolio of applications and websites that are eligible for seed (angel) funding in the YV start up incubator.


  1. Program announcement, student selection (2 weeks)
  2. Initiation and student evaluation (2 weeks)
  3. Waypoint 1:  Students classified in academic tracks
  4. Academic instruction begins (8 weeks)
  5. Waypoint 2: Midterm project and evaluation
  6. Academic instruction with emphasis on project work (8 weeks)
  7. Waypoint 3: presentation of projects, graduation


We were honored to be asked a question by Fred Wilson, why Yeshiva Ventures should teach “religion” along life skills, etc.

BS”D “Religion” is a loaded term, we focus specifically on Kabbalah. Kabbalistic wisdom is universal, these are the esoteric teachings of the prophets, teaching a path to enlightenment and knowledge of G-d.

Yehoshua the Christian, was a student of Kabbalah, and its teachings are a key to the perfection of mankind. We have been going through a unique cosmic experience for the past 20 years, reaching a climax in these months.

The Internet was born 20 years ago! Social networks and the new economics of Knowledge are the manifestation of the Age of Aquarius (which we are entering in a few months following a 2160 year process…)

The “Nations of the East” had received mystical teachings from Abraham which lay root to most of the wisdom in their traditions.

These principles which we study in Yeshiva Ventures form a new perspective on the student’s role in society. We teach them that “the material” is a means to a greater manifestation of G-dliness, not an ends to itself. We teach them that they will only succeed through collaboration, never all by themselves.

We also teach a new perspective on economics, reading startup news (and AVC) – we point out examples in the Internet economy where cooperation is more productive then competition.

This is the heart of the program. The tech and creative skills are meant to complement the core being of our student – mainly a leader in business and society.

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Posted: March 13, 2012 in Asides


The weather today is bleak, but not wholly unpleasant.