'Sefaria' Open Source Online Jewish Text Site Could Expand Jewish Learning

June 19, 2013

Source: The Jewish Week


The Sefaria Project is about building the future of Jewish learning in an open and participatory way. Sefaria is building a free living library of Jewish texts and their interconnections, in Hebrew and in translation. Its scope is Torah in the broadest sense, from Tanakh to Talmud to Zohar to modern texts and all the volumes of commentary in between. Sefaria is created, edited, and annotated by an open community.


Julie Wiener writes:

"Imagine being able to access every major Judaic text, in the original and in English translation, free of charge and from one website.


Whenever you come across a reference to a related book or text within the canon, a click of the mouse (or a touch of the screen) immediately transports you there. You can view just the Hebrew or Aramaic, or just the English, with commentaries or without. Everything is downloadable, printable, and available to be incorporated into any app, game or other software you might develop. Keyword searches span not just one book or source, but the entire Judaic canon.


This is the vision of Sefaria, an ambitious new project seeking to make all of Judaism’s sacred texts accessible and open-source.


Spearheaded by 30-year-olds Brett Lockspeiser and Joshua Foer, Sefaria (the name is a play on the Hebrew word for library) is an idea that could, observers say, revolutionize and democratize Jewish learning, make possible an outpouring of new Jewish educational software and transform the Judaica publishing industry.


Given the enormous volume of Jewish sacred texts — Lockspeiser and Foer have identified about 1,000 texts as “core” — and the fact that many translations are protected by copyright, it’s also a massive undertaking…


While Sefaria currently houses a small fraction of the world’s Judaica, Lockspeiser and Foer are looking to take the project to the next level, enlisting the battalions of volunteers, recruiting an advisory board of scholars and raising the hundreds of thousands of dollars required to bring all the content online and manage it."


Read Wiener's article in the Jewish Week.

Updated: Jun. 25, 2013