Bar Sahar, a student of visual communication design from Israel, visited South Korea six months ago and discovered that many of the citizens are studying Talmud.
"The Koreans are very curious about the way Jews study and often ask why they are so smart," said Bar, "The South Korean Ministry of Education included the Talmud in the list of books recommended for reading."
"You can imagine my confused face when I heard these things. I have to say that it came along with a sense of pride and a flushed smile," the student described.
Following her return to Israel, Bar began to explore the topic before choosing a subject for her final project at the Holon Institute of Technology (HIT). "I felt that I had the opportunity to produce my part in the story. So I inquired, investigated, read and asked, and two questions in particular piqued my curiosity.”
"First, why do Koreans learn something so complicated through a book, and the second - what is in the Talmud, specifically, such that of all Jewish literature, they chose to study it specifically. After the questions came two conclusions. The first is that as part of the project I would be able to make the Talmud accessible in the form of an interactive site that would help them learn in a format a little more in keeping with our time.
"The second conclusion was that the Jewish Talmud is composed of discussions, a lot of discussions and debates. You can even call it 'Jewish philosophy.' In addition, it is impossible not to relate to the form of Jewish study - the ‘Havruta,’ [study in small groups], which I expressed in the project. I will go on to say that the inspiration for the structure of the site and the attempt to emphasize the complexities of the discussions I drew from ‘fractals,’ a mathematical form consisting of an infinite number of small copies of itself.”
With the help of Bar's facilitator, Oded Ezer, and with the help of Korean friend Jamie, Bar began to work on the concept and simulation of the ‘T-halmud-e’ website, a site that introduces the Talmud to Koreans who want to learn it and gives them the tools to hold a “Korean Havruta.”
The site is bilingual, Hebrew-Korean. "It was important for me to introduce the Hebrew language to the site in order to emphasize the uniqueness of the source and also to create closeness and cultural connection. The site allows visitors to read portions of the Talmud, read discussions about a specific section, and add their own discussions to the topic.”
"There is a possibility to respond to the discussion, to quote from another place in the Talmud in order to expand the depth of the discussion. There is an option to follow users who interest you, consult with experts, and use other features that enable deep and social learning,” Bar added.
The project can be seen at the HIT graduates exhibition, which opens this week in Holon.