We're excited to be taking part in the Global Day of Jewish Learning, 2014! Here is an article that appeared in Times of Israel, by Amanda Borschel-Dan about the new technological advances we'll be utilising on the day.
Trailblazing Jewish thinker Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz is a pioneer in making Jewish texts accessible to all who wish to learn. The Israel Prize winner, an author of some 60 books on an eclectic array of topics, is most associated with his Hebrew translation and commentary on the Talmud, but he is — above all — an educator.
In an effort to amplify his educational efforts, five years ago Steinsaltz’s Aleph Society instituted a Global Day of Jewish Learning in select Diaspora communities and institutions. Now a slick high-tech endeavor broadcast on Google Hangouts simultaneously everywhere, this year’s Global Day brings dozens of diverse educators onto your laptop for 24 hours of free text-based classes.
Taking place on Sunday, November 16, the theme of the fifth annual Global Day is “Heroes & Villains, Saints & Fools: The People in the Book.” Though most lessons will be in English, speakers residing in seven countries will discuss biblical characters in a choice of five languages with registered participants from some 400 communities in 48 countries around the world.
Most lessons are held in front of a live audience at institutions’ festive Global Day of Jewish Learning events. But the world is their stage as classes are also simultaneously livestreamed via Google Hangouts On Air.
From living rooms or coffee shops, participants across the Diaspora can live chat questions to the teachers or interact with other students via Twitter (@TheGlobalDay) and Facebook. And if a session falls in the wee hours of the night, no worries: the classes will also be available for posterity on YouTube.
For some, harnessing the power of a rapidly changing technology can be a double-edged sword.
“While the Internet has done much to improve our lives, it often facilitates a more atomized, disconnected world. Thankfully, this day of learning offers us the opportunity to leverage the Internet to connect deeply — to Torah and to each other,” says Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, who is scheduled to teach during the Global Day.
Kaunfer, the co-founder and executive director of New York’s egalitarian learning program Hadar, also has an online learning initiative called Project Zug, which pairs Israelis and Diaspora Jews for virtual chevruta-style learning.
Other speakers include a wide variety of rabbis and educators, French Jewish mystic Michael Sebban and musician Alicia Jo Rabins.
Hadar is an educational institution that seeks to empower a generation of Jews to create and sustain vibrant, practicing, egalitarian communities of Torah learning, prayer, and service.