Jewish Education — On a Global Scale

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On Nov. 15, Jews from more than 500 communities in 40-plus countries will participate in the world’s largest Jewish unity event, the Global Day of Jewish Learning. 

On Nov. 15, Jews from more than 500 communities in 40-plus countries will participate in the world’s largest Jewish unity event, the Global Day of Jewish Learning. 
 
It is an initiative that reaches Jewish communities across the continents, bringing Jews of all beliefs and backgrounds together. Participating communities range from Brooklyn, N.Y., to Beersheva, Israel and Mumbai, India. The event’s theme is “Love: Devotion, Desire and Deception.” Sessions will focus on different types of love, how they appear in the Bible and Talmud and how these texts inform relationships with spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends and God.
 
In 2010, Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz created the event to celebrate the completion of 40 years of work in translating the Talmud. Karen Sponder, the project director of the event explained that the program furthers the rabbi’s mission to “let my people know” and his life’s work to make Jewish learning accessible to all.  
 
Steinsaltz is a teacher, philosopher, social critic and prolific author who has been cited by Time magazine as a “once-in-a-millennium scholar.” His lifelong work in Jewish education earned him the Israel Prize, his country’s highest honor.  
 
“The Global Day of Jewish Learning, with people from hundreds of communities around the world studying the same texts, offers people a taste of study,” Steinsaltz said. “I hope that this small taste will encourage participants to go on and continue their learning, either with others or on their own.” 
 
“We have found over time that many Jews have had little direct connection to Tanakh, to Talmud, to our rich heritage,” Sponder added. “The Global Day is an opportunity for everyone, no matter his or her background, to study and to connect with our people and our heritage.” 
 
Joel Hecker, an associate professor of Jewish mysticism at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, will present one of the day’s 24 live-streamed talks at Temple Beth El, in Newark, Del., where he will dive into the world of Kabbalistic kissing. He is among today’s most prominent scholars of Kabbalah and will explain how kissing can serve as a metaphor between a soul and God, symbolize a loving relationship and how powerful a kiss is between a man and a woman.
 
“It’s exciting to have the opportunity to teach such a broad audience,” Hecker said. “I’m looking forward to being part of the event. ”
 
Registered communities are provided with resource materials, including a curriculum and a video class with Steinsaltz. The conference is broadcast live using Google Hangouts On Air. Throughout the day, scholars, artists, rabbis and authors will present their perspectives on love in Judaism. 
 
Na’ama Yarden, the education and program director at Or Shalom heard about the event six years ago and thought it would benefit her shul to participate. Each year, it does something a little different, but typically involves families and another synagogue, which is Congregation Beth El Ner Tamid in Broomall this year. This year, each grade will sing a song about love and at the end of the event, everyone will sing: All you need is love."

They also tell stories, color and have activities around the subject.

"It is mostly an opportunity to learn together," Yarden said. "The main idea is to bring two communities and different ages together to learn together in creative ways."

The University of Pennsylvania is also participating. Rachel Shaw, chair of the Hillel Education Sector said the plan is to two parallel sessions running on Nov. 15 related to the theme “Love: Devotion, Desire, and Deception.”

“To me, the best thing about Hillel, especially in a place with as vibrant a Jewish community as Penn, is the chance to explore Judaism with people from a huge variety of backgrounds,” Shaw said. “I hope that people walk away from the Global Day of Jewish Learning feeling similarly – with a really deep appreciation for what can be learned from other people, from different backgrounds but with a shared Jewish experience.” 

Contact: [email protected];215-832-0747

 

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