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YU Presents Revolutionary Online Torah-Learning Program

Yeshiva University introduces interactive online learning program that lets users find own answers through means of video, text and forum.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 5/13/2014, 9:52 PM

Torah study (illustrative)
Torah study (illustrative)
Flash 90

Yeshiva University (YU) has introduced a new online program that seeks to revolutionize the Torah-learning experience.

Rabbi Ari Sytner, director of Community Initiatives at YU's Center for the Jewish Future (CJF), created the new online program to provide the wider public with a unique interactive Torah-learning experience.

“We wanted to come up with a revolutionary idea to engage people in learning,” said Rabbi Sytner. “We found that the most exciting part of learning is the question.”

In the program, entitled #EmpoweredLearning, 10-minute video presentations show different YU Torah scholars introducing intriguing questions relating to the Jewish holidays, with viewers being given access to sources and texts to help them find their own answers.

Over the course of a week, participants can discuss the questions in an open online forum, and in the following week the presenter's answer will be shown in a three-minute video, followed by a new presenter and a new set of questions.

Those interested in registering for the program are invited to click here.

“It’s about taking learning to a whole new level, and this Shavuot, we are bringing Kabbalat HaTorah (reception of the Torah) to a new community of learners and empowering people to come together around the centrality of the learning experience,” said Rabbi Sytner.

The rabbi noted that people of all levels and backgrounds would be able to interact with the variety of Hebrew and English sources.

#EmpoweredLearning went live on Sunday, with Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter of CJF presenting two questions about the reception of the Torah to nearly 500 participants in 24 countries, including Chile, Hong Kong, Kenya and Venezuela.

“The juicier a question is, the more exciting the learning becomes,” stated Rabbi Sytner. “It’s the notion of a cliffhanger experience, where you take people to the edge and leave them hanging. The goal is for it to be an engaging and immersive learning experience that will appeal to people in different dimensions - intellectually stimulating and also spiritually and emotionally uplifting.”

Leading up to Shavuot, which starts June 3 this year, two more videos will address the message of Megillat Rut (the scroll of Ruth), traditionally read during the holiday, as well as why the Torah was given to the Jewish people.

Rabbi Sytner heralded the program "as an invitation for people to discuss Torah in today’s virtual world. It’s a two-way dialogue – we are encouraging people to feel that they’re a part of something and actively involved in the learning process. This is the next step in Jewish education.”