From the Rabbi’s Study

The Online Jewish Learning Revolution: Part II. Deeper Learning through Classes

The Talmud aptly warns us: Do not say that I will study when I have time – for you may not have time. One reason the largest population that attends our adult learning programs in the Kansas City Jewish Community is retirees is simply the fact that this is the generation with available time.  I can’t tell you how many adult students I have met who have said that they had always wanted more serious studies but they never had time.

This need no longer be the case. In addition to the podcasts that I wrote about in January, there are a number of full-length courses available online in a wide range of Jewish topics. Many of these are free or low-cost, often taught by skilled and experienced teachers, with downloadable handouts. There is an explosion of ALL types of learning online – and Jewish learning has kept pace. I am going to highlight a few that I recommend – and recognize that these represent the tip of the iceberg.

The Jewish Theological Seminary. JTS, Hazzan Ben-Yehuda’s and my alma mater, was the birthplace of Conservative Judaism and is still a center for unparalleled Jewish academic scholarship. They have many three-part, online courses that are taught by tenured JTS faculty for as little as $60 per three-session series. They range from history to Talmud to philosophy. These courses can be viewed on your computer either live (in which case you can interact with the class), or watch a recording.

Hadar Institute.  I study in person at Hadar yearly. They focus on studying Talmud and other texts in partnership (hevruta). Though they have many learning opportunities online and in person, one of their best products is called Project Zug (“Zug” means “partner”). These courses can help you find a study partner and walk you through a series of challenging and inspiring Jewish texts.

General Universities. You would not believe how many great universities have online courses with their Jewish Studies faculty! Though often not live like the JTS course, these are opportunities to study the broadest range of academic courses. Institutions like Harvard, Northwestern University, University of Pennsylvania, and Tel Aviv University are just a few that offer such classes.

Web Yeshiva. An orthodox institution, WebYeshiva.org, has many courses that you would find in a traditional yeshiva. Like some of the other courses listed here, the classes can be watched live or recorded. This was founded by Rabbi Chaim Brovender. Rabbi Brovender’s biography states: “He was the founding Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hamivtar and Michlelet Bruria (today, Midreshet Lindenbaum) where he pioneered  the teaching of Gemara to students for whom the Talmud had been a closedbook.”

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