Web Yeshiva

Everything’s gone online, even the centuries-old tradition of learning in yeshiva.

As its name suggests, Web Yeshiva brings texts and teachings that are thousands of years old to the web, with not just online, but interactive lessons.  Living in Jerusalem, there are a variety of live  shiurim at relatively easy access, but there is something nice about learning from the comfort of home, especially as the weather gets colder and (hopefully) rainier.

From time to time I check out the Halacha Yomit (daily Jewish law) blog with video mini-lessons by Web Yeshiva founder and rabbinic powerhouse Rabbi Chaim Brovender.  They’re conversational, informative, and brief.

I have a great deal of respect for Rabbi Brovender for his tremendous contributions to the Jewish people, particularly through his development of Modern Orthodox and Religious Zionist institutions.  He established Yeshivat Hamivtar in Efrat and Midreshet Lindenbaum (formerly Michlelet Bruria), introducing in-depth textual study and Talmud to women’s learning, and he is the president of the ATID Foundation (Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions).

What makes Web Yeshiva exceptional, is that it’s a website that is easy to navigate and actually works.  Perhaps that does not sound like a tremendous achievement, but the websites of the vast majority of yeshivas and seminaries are sorely lacking.  Web Yeshiva uses technology to integrate live chats, archiving, and interactive text that you can share and highlight.

When I saw a recent posting on the blog about teaching women Gemara, I had to take a look.  I heartily agree that women cannot be expected to learn halacha merely by watching their mothers.

I also noticed that there was, apropos, a weekly shiur about the Jewish wedding.  Since it’s at 10p.m. Jerusalem time, I probably won’t be taking the (free!) class live, but I’ve been hitting up the archives, beginning with the first class, which starts with the origins of Jewish marriage before and after the giving of the Torah.

The downside to taking a class online is that it’s too easy to get distracted by incoming e-mail or checking something in a new browser tab.  Of course the ideal is the traditional face-to-face class, but let’s face it, plenty of people bring their laptops to shiurim or are distracted by their Blackberry in class these days too.

With the Kindle, iPad, and their cousins, reading from dead-tree books (except for Shabbat!) is increasingly becoming a thing of the past.

What do you think?  Is the future of Jewish learning a Web Yeshiva?


1 Response to “Web Yeshiva”

  1. 1 Elle May 2, 2011 at 10:18 am

    For some reason I had never taken a serious look at webyeshiva until just now. Thanks for the link…

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Ilene Rosenblum is a writer and marketing professional living in Jerusalem.

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