29 Chabad Communities Join Innovative Halacha Program

Over 500 people in 29 Chabad communities have joined the Chabad branch of the Semichas Chaver program, which provides in-depth halacha classes, along with the rulings of the Alter Rebbe, Tzemach Tzedek and Chabad Poskim.

Chabad communities from across North America are joining the Chabad branch of the Semichas Chaver Program, which provides a curriculum to learn in-depth halacha along with the rulings of the Alter Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek and Chabad Poskim.

The Semichas Chaver Program (SCP), started by Rabbi Elyada Goldwicht to teach in-depth halacha classes to Baaleh Batim currently boasts over 120 locations, with over 2,000 weekly talmidim. The curriculum is a text-based study of the background and underlying principles of the halacha. It starts with the Gemara and Shulchan Aruch, and follows the chain of halacha all the way to the contemporary Poskim and modern issues.

Semichas Chaver Chabad (SCP Chabad) is a branch of SCP directed by Rabbi Betzalel Bassman and Rabbi Avrohom Jacks. They have worked in conjunction with Lubavitcher Rabbonim to adapt the curriculum to follow the opinions of the Alter Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek and contemporary Chabad Poskim.

SCP Chabad is a seven-year program divided into six-month courses with classes held weekly. Each six month course is an independent subject after which students review the material and take a test. Those who pass the test receive a prestigious Semichas Chaver certificate signed by leading Rabbonim from around the world, including Chabad Rabbonim. SCP Chabad is endorsed by HaRav Gedalia Oberlander and HaRav Yehoram Ullman.

Classes are growing, and SCP participants are excited. “I feel very fortunate to BH able to participate in the Semichas Chaver learning program,” said Reuven Frank of Baltimore. “Much thought and intention has been given to the structure and delivery of the material; there is a beautiful balance of conceptual background and practical application.”

Dr. Michael Moritz of Pittsburgh agrees. “Semichas Chaver is a university-level program in content, structure and instruction. It’s interesting, challenging, engaging and useful. I am fortunate to have this.”

Rabbis teaching the program are also excited! “The balance between in-depth study and its practical application in halacha is beautiful,” says Rabbi Dovid Shmuckler, who teaches the course in Los Angeles. “The program has amazing repercussions,” he says, “starting right in the heart of the Beis Medrash and spreading outwards to family and friends.”  

Rabbi Mendy Cohen of Sacramento comments, “I want to thank everybody who is putting so much work into the Simchas Chaver Chabad program!  It is transforming our community, giving so many people an understanding of how halacha works.”

Rabbi Moshe Markowitz has been teaching SCP Chabad in Chicago for a year now. He describes the material as, “at the same time is true הלכה לעיון and also הלכה למעשה. Every shiur is designed in a way that keeps it exciting, interesting and very interactive.” 

Rabbi Yossi Marlow that been teaching SCP-Chabad in North Miami Beach said: “The SCP-Chabad program is a wonderfully structured presentation of various topics in hilchos Shabbos allowing in-depth comprehension and greater awareness of shmiras Shabbos to be taken to a whole different level”.

Rabbi Mendel Gurary of Antwerp extols the program. “It’s clear that the organizers are investing a lot of time and effort to make it work,” he says. He adds that it’s been years since he’s seen so many ba’al habatim gathered together for this kind of shiur. “[Their dedication] is reflected both in their consistent attendance and in the passion they have during the study itself. And all week they’re trying to implement their lessons at home.”

Rabbi Moshe Slavaticki of Baltimore appreciates the diversity of his class, which he says has the largest audience of any in the community. “Those who want to know halacha in matters relevant to daily life discussed by contemporary poskim will find it interesting. Those who want to learn Halacha for its shakla vtarya, or to study the origins of Halacha will find it interesting. Those who want to review their Yeshiva learning will find it interesting. Those who want to learn something unique each week that’s still part of a larger study will find it interesting.” 

He’s also impressed with how it reaches the families as well. “Many of the participants say that it has changed their Shabbos table. Every week they discuss a practical and interesting halachic topic at the Shabbos table, with all the family members and guests participating and enjoying the discussion.”

Classes will cover relevant subjects such as Bishul Akum, Pas Akum, Tevilas Keilim, Ha’galas Keilim, Basar V’cholov, Berochos, Nida, Mezuzah, Muktza, Melaben, Bone B’Keilim, Borer, Sechita, Hadlokas Neiros, Ribbis, Hilchos Tefila, Hilchos Beis Haknesses, and more.

This next 6-month z’man, which in the coming week, will include the topics of Bishul, Shiya, Hatmana, and Chazara. Registration for SCP Chabad is open right now in the following communities. Reach out to your local Rov for more details. 

An additional program called HalachaU is being designed to provide the content of SCP Chabad to an audience with little or no Yeshiva background, and is currently being piloted in 8 Chabad Houses.

FAQ’S ABOUT SCP CHABAD

Is there a cost to participate?

There is no cost for the Talmidim, all that is required is a desire to grow in Torah and Yiras Shomayim.

How often is the shiur? 

It is a weekly shiur. In each 6 month zman there are about 18 shiurim. There are a few weeks left for off weeks and a couple weeks for review before the test and siyum.

I already got Semicha, is there anything for me to gain from Semichas Chaver?

In the current 29 SCP-Chabad locations there are over 500 weekly participants and a large percentage already have Semicha. The majority of the topics covered are not studied in most Semicha programs and even topics that are covered like Shabbos have a much stronger focus on practical applications of the 21st century than most students had in traditional Semicha programs.The feedback we got was that the material is equally intriguing to those with semicha and a yeshiva background or even to those with no yeshiva background. In some of the classes more than half of the participants have Semicha in Yore Deah and Shabbos and they felt that the learning was refreshing and challenging. 

Is this Rabbinical Semicha?

No, this is a certificate that celebrates mastery over various sections in Halacha. 

Are the classes available over Zoom?

No, the classes are live face-to-face.

Can I get recordings of the class?

The classes are only available to regular participants. If someone misses a class they can get a recording but they are not available to the public.

What makes SCP-Chabad unique?

Participants feel that it is the perfect balance between a deep understanding of the background to the halacha and the extreme practical modern application. 

What’s special about SCP-Chabad is that each student is charged with taking the information from the shiur and bringing it home to their family. After each shiur participants receive Q&A’s based on that week’s class to share practical halachos at the Shabbos table. 

Here is a full list of the current locations for SCP – Chabad 

Rabbi Zalman Moshe Abraham – East Flatbush, NY

Rabbi Betzalel Bassman – Pittsburgh, PA

Rabbi Berel Bell – Montreal, Canada

Rabbi Dovber Chaiton – Las Vegas, NV

Rabbi Mendy Cohen – Sacramento, CA

Rabbi Avi Dagan – New Haven, CT

Rabbi Dovber Dechter – Phoenix, AZ

Rabbi Shmulie Friedman – Cleveland, OH

Rabbi Mendel Gurary – Antwerp, Belgium

Rabbi Avrohom Jacks – Toronto, Canada

Rabbi Michoel Lerner – Crown Height, NY

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Kagan – Monsey, NY

Rabbi Yossi Marlow – North Miami Beach, FL

Rabbi Moshe Markowitz – Chicago, IL

Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin – Petach Tikva first location in Eretz Yisroel – סמיכת חבר חב״ד בעברית! 

Rabbi Chaim Schapiro – Morristown NJ

Rabbi Nochum Schapiro – Coconut Cay, FL

Rabbi Dovid Shmukler – Los Angeles, CA

Rabbi Shneur Silverberg – Detroit, MI (2 locations)

Rabbi Moshe Slavaticki – Baltimore, MA

Rabbi Mendel Yuzevitz – Crown Heights, NY

Here are the current locations for HalachaU’s pilot program

Rabbi Yisroel Altein – Pittsburgh, PA

Rabbi Boruch Davidson – Philadelphia, PA

Rabbi Mendy Groner – Melbourne, Australia

Rabbi Yitzchok Hecht – Ulster County, NY

Rabbi Levi Jacobson – Toronto, Canada

Rabbi Dubi Lisker – Mequon, WI

Rabbi Meir Chaim Posner – Chabad on Yale University

Rabbi Sholom Ber Wolberg – Glencoe, IL

To find out more about SCP Chabad or HalachaU please contact Rabbi Betzalel Bassman – [email protected].

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