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Portable Parnassah: An Interview With Rebbetzin Sora Bulka

By Azriela Jaffe

A.J.: Rebbetzin, I’m intrigued by your new app design and development program that I see advertised in the Jewish periodicals. Our son Eli is going into 11th grade at Ohavei Torah, and as soon as I saw the advertisements, I thought, wow, this is exactly what Eli would love to do when he graduates high school so he can continue learning part-time in beis midrash and at the same time, prepare for a trade.

S.B.: The program is designed for anyone who is looking for opportunities in parnassah in the exciting new field of app design and development. People working in the field, from design to development to management, are earning excellent incomes at the start. The salaries are what are needed for frum people. There are lots of jobs available because there is a shortage of people with the skills to meet the demand.

AJ: Who has expressed interest?

S.B.: Seminary girls and women returning to the labor force and men of all ages; this is especially attractive to men who have spent many years in yeshiva and are now looking to join the workforce and support their families without having to go to college for a degree. This can also be attractive for people who are looking for second careers—what is called in the vernacular “reinventing themselves.”

A.J.: Like all your programs, you offer separate classes for men and women. Is this field appealing to both?

S.B.: Absolutely! Contrary to the stereotype, this is not a “men’s field” or a “women’s field.” As a matter of fact, Rabbi Levy, my colleague in the hanhalah of the seminary, has said, “App design and development may well turn out to be what computer programming was to the frum community 25 years ago.”

The work does not involve sitting in front of a computer all day long. It involves being part of a team, working together to solve problems, come up with creative solutions, meet the needs of the market, and generally mastering the range of skills needed for today’s workplace. Many of these skills will be useful in any kind of business environment.

I met with two entrepreneurial yungeleit who started an app development business, and they are busy morning to night. We discussed with them and with other successful app developers what they are looking for in those they hire.

A.J.: As a matter of fact, I just read an article in USA Today last week reporting on “coding camps” for girls, to encourage girls at a very young age to learn a skill that hiring executives and career counselors believe will be much in demand when they graduate high school.

A.J.: What about the concern that just as computer jobs went overseas, what’s to say the same thing won’t happen with apps development jobs?

S.B.: Believe me—that concern was very much on our minds when we met many times with experts in the field. We are confident that the dynamic nature of the field works to the benefit of those who are going into it. The skills they are mastering and the knowledge base they are getting will enable them to adopt and adapt new programs and languages as they are introduced. (Just recently one of the incoming students called me anxiously to ask about the new language that Apple just announced. I think he was both surprised and gratified to hear me tell him the name of the language and how we are incorporating it into the program. I was called from iDaat the minute it came out, and was made aware of the news.) In light of the fact that changes do come, we plan to offer seminars—similar to continuing education—for our graduates to keep everyone up-to-date and on the cutting edge.

A.J.: Where will these apps jobs be? Do graduates have to live in New York or Los Angeles to find them?

S.B.: That’s the great thing about this field. Much of the work can be done from anywhere in the world. This means that you can work with a company based in New York while living in Eretz Yisrael and collaborate with team members all over the world.

A.J.: It seems to me that this is both “affordable and portable.” You said the program costs $12,000.

S.B.: Yes, that is correct. And the $12,000 is all inclusive, providing every student with a Mac computer, fully loaded with all the necessary software.

A.J.: Are there any prior education requirements to join?

S.B.: No. However, the university will give an aptitude test to try to make sure that this is a suitable choice.

A.J.: What are you looking for in a candidate?

S.B.: Keep in mind that the cohort will have a maximum of 20 students. App development and design is ideal for someone who is bright, a good problem-solver, likes working as part of a team, and is comfortable with computers. Additionally, for an artistic person who enjoys graphic design, apps design is a whole new, exciting world. It’s not a one-size-fits-all profession.

A.J.: Is Brooklyn the only location to take the classes?

S.B.: For the time being, yes. This will allow the students to take advantage of LIU’s state-of-the-art computer lab. Eventually we hope to be able to offer this in other locations.

A.J.: I know a gentleman who has been out of work for quite some time and he’s looking to reinvent himself so he can provide for his family. Where can he get more info?

S.B.: Tell him to call 718-769-8160 or send an e-mail to If he, or anyone else you know, is really interested, he should act now. As I mentioned, there is intentionally limited enrollment.

A.J.: Thank you, Rebbetzin. When we began our conversation, I was focused on learning more about the training program for Eli, but you opened my eyes to other possibilities. My daughter, Elana, who is headed to seminary in Eretz Yisrael next year, is already excited about doing this when she returns.

I have to tell you about an e-mail I got last night from my mom who is in her late seventies, living in a retirement community in Florida. She was alerting me that she has now uploaded a new app into her iPhone so that she can communicate with me in all kinds of newfangled high-tech ways. Rebbetzin, my own mother, and most of her senior citizen friends, are so high-tech now, we can’t think anymore that this apps world is for the “young folks.” Apparently it’s for anyone who has a phone, a computer, or an iPad. Every year I buy my father a book for his birthday. This year, he told me not to bother—he has all the reading material he needs by downloading books onto his Nook.

Thank you for enlightening me. Before we spoke, I really didn’t understand what this new program of yours is, and now I want to sign up my whole family! v

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Posted by on June 26, 2014. Filed under In This Week's Edition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.