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Jewish learning goes global

by Salvador Litvak

November 13, 2013 | 2:47 pm

A global conference of Jewish learning, including music and art performances, will take place online over a 24-hour period on Nov. 17. The Global Day of Jewish Learning will broadcast “24x24” — 24 classes from 24 speakers around the globe — free of charge and live using Google Hangouts On Air and YouTube. Scholar Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz will speak at 10 a.m.  

The Global Day will unite 400 communities in 40 countries through the study of Jewish texts. Sponsored by the Aleph Society, the Global Day will be supervised by Rabbi Steinsaltz, who recently completed a 45-volume Hebrew translation and elucidation of the Talmud, the first such commentary since the 11th century. He is also the author of 60 books on philosophy, language, mysticism and history.

Rabbis, scholars, artists and professors will engage with this year’s Global Day theme, “Creating Together: Jewish Approaches to Creativity and Collaboration.”

Sinai Temple’s Rabbi David Wolpe will teach “How Moses Learned to Speak,” and Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, executive director of Mechon Hadar in New York, will challenge viewers with his talk, “How Can I Pray What I Don’t Believe? Creativity and Prayer Interpretation.” The band Stereo Sinai will perform songs and discuss their Jewish-text-based lyrics in their session “We Steal Lyrics From God.” Multimedia artist Hanan Harchol of Jewish Food for Thought, in his hour on “Making Jewish Wisdom Accessible Through Art,” will screen two episodes from his animated series and give a tour of his current exhibition. Novelist Dara Horn will describe the “The Theological Art of Storytelling.” 

Viewers around the world will be able to sit in on classes broadcast from in-person community events worldwide. Virtual communities and individuals at home will be able to ask questions live on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. These videos will also be available on YouTube.

Karen Sponder, Project Director, explained that “our use of Google Hangouts On Air marks the first time this platform will be used for Jewish learning on a global scale.  We hope that ‘24x24’ will inspire others to use the Internet to unite the worldwide Jewish community and make it easier to access Jewish learning.” 

I will be participating from Gettysburg, Penn., where I will be attending the festivities connected to the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.”


Salvador Litvak wrote and directed the Passover comedy and cult hit “When Do We Eat?” His newest film, “Saving Lincoln,” explores Abraham Lincoln’s fiery trial as commander-in-chief through the eyes of his closest friend, Ward Hill Lamon. Continue the conversation at Facebook.com/AccidentalTalmudist.

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