Old Dog, New Tricks?

You’ve heard it said: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!” Often this saying is applied to the “older generation,” no matter which one. I’m here to tell you that saying does not apply to every “senior.” I am living proof! A short story of my life will illustrate my point.

I was a very good student in school and very interested in academics. I have always been on the honor roll or dean’s list. I only received one C in my life and that was in art. I am very right brained. At the same time, I was also involved in music and athletics. I played trombone all through Junior High and High School in orchestra, jazz band, and marching band—I was even the drum major! I also ran track and swam competitively for many years. In high school, I planned for a science major and math minor in college.

However, during my first year of college, I met my husband and we got married. In the first four years of our marriage, we had three children. I postponed my education to become a stay-at-home mother. I absolutely loved being a wife and mother. I continued learning through reading, learning sign language, and interpreting for the deaf, eventually becoming a certified interpreter. During this time, I was very active in the congregations we attended, teaching when needed and filling in in many different capacities from childcare, to cook, to Sunday School teacher, to women’s ministry leader. Whatever my hand found to do, I did it.

Our family immigrated to Israel when our children were 10, 11, and 13. Due to economic restraints, I had to work. I was a nursery schoolteacher for several years, then moved on to become the secretary of a large international congregation. After my children finished school and moved on to start their own adult lives and families, I went back to college while working full time. In eleven years, I completed my BA, two MA’s, and a PhD. After that I completed two more master’s degrees.

My original desire was to get an MA so I could teach at the Bible College in Israel where I was working in administration. I am a good administrator, but I am also a good teacher and the desire burned inside of me. After getting my MA, I was asked by a professor to do a doctorate under his leadership. To be honest, I did not think I could do it. All I could see was the information I did not know. One day, my professor told me to stop telling him what I didn’t know. He knew what I didn’t know. More important to him was the natural gifting and abilities that had been honed through all of my life experiences.

What I learned the most was that my time being a wife, mother, teacher of women and children, leader, cook, etc. were no wasted, but gave me life experiences that prepared me to do the work and research with perseverance in order to complete my PhD. Now I have many opportunities to fulfill my dream of “… admonishing teaching all people with wisdom…” so they can become the men and women of God they were created to be (adapted from Col. 1:28).

I share my life with you to encourage you. Don’t let age, life experiences, or lack of college education stop you from learning God’s Word and ways. Over my life, people saw my abilities and helped me along my journey. MJTI would like to do that for you. For those of you who have years of studying and teaching the word, have experience in your congregations and synagogues, but don’t have a bachelor’s degree, the Mature Status student (MSS) application category is right for you. The MSS application allows you to use your life experiences and take specific classes in one year of graduate studies. Upon successful completion of the first year and meeting the qualifications, you will be able to take further graduate certificates or enter the Master of Jewish Studies degree. For those of you who have a baccalaureate degree and want to study at a slower pace, try our one-year Introduction to Messianic Jewish Studies certificate. For those of you who are not sure you are ready for formal studies, join our Panim el Panim classes. For more information, check out MJTI programs on our webpage.

You are never too old to learn about God and his word. Contact MJTI today.

This article was written by MJTI Academic Dean Rabbi Dr. Vered Hillel. For more by Rabbi Hillel, read her articles about Inspiring Jewish Women, Simchat Torah, or Shemini Atzeret

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