High-Tech Helps to Make Talmud More Navigable in Philly

Published: 
August 31, 2011

Source: The Jewish Exponent

 

Bryan Schwartzman tells of the first major academic project undertaken by the Philadelphia Day School Collaborative, a consortium of seven Philadelphia Day Schools – integrating the Gemara Berura, an Israeli designed software package into the Talmud studies curriculum of the schools. The seven schools will be introducing students to the program in the fall. The local roll-out for Gemara Berura represents a bold attempt to utilize technology to shed light on an ancient discipline.

 

Rabbi Meir Fachler, the senior consultant and director of North American operations for the Gemara Berura computer program, came to Philadelphia a number of times in the last months to run seminars for teachers from the different schools who will be implementing the program this year.

 

The digital drive is the first major academic project undertaken by the Philadelphia Day School Collaborative, a consortium that includes the Abrams Hebrew Academy, Barrack Hebrew Academy, Kohelet Yeshiva High School, Perelman Jewish Day School, Politz Hebrew Academy, Torah Academy of Greater Philadelphia, the Politz Hebrew Day School of Cherry Hill, N.J., and the Kellman Brown Academy in Voorhees, N.J.

 

The collaborative is spearheaded by the Kohelet Foundation, founded by philanthropist David Magerman. Over the past three years, the foundation has given more than $15 million to local day schools.

 

Gemara Berura was designed to help students cope with the structure and reasoning behind the multilayered Talmudic text which are really hard to learn and teach. The computer program works, in part, by arranging the discourse between rabbis into organizational flow charts.

 

Gemara Berura - which covers both the Mishnah and Babylonian Talmud - identifies key words to help students discern whether they are looking at a question, statement, objection or something else altogether. It also features biographical sketches for every sage mentioned in the Mishnah or Babylonian Talmud and contains a dictionary. The program can aid the beginner and push the advanced student to arrange his or her own flow charts and categorize the passages.

Updated: Sep. 27, 2011
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