YU's Center for the Jewish Future’s #EmpoweredLearning Program Aims to Engage and Inspire Torah Learners

May 13, 2014

Source: YU Blogs 


Rabbi Ari Sytner, director of Community Initiatives at Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future has designed and recently launched #EmpoweredLearning, where different YU scholars introduce profound and intriguing questions in a 10-minute video presentation, leaving viewers with sources and texts which will empower them to discover their own answers. During the week, participants can discuss the questions in an open online forum, until the following week when the presenter’s answer is revealed in three-minute video, followed by a new presenter posing a fresh set of questions. The project is centered on the Jewish holidays and it is only fitting that the first few installments are being released in the three weeks leading up to Shavuot.


The first video—by Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, senior scholar at the CJF and professor of Jewish history and Jewish thought—went live on Sunday with some 500 participants from 24 countries, including Chile, Hong Kong, Kenya and Venezuela. Rabbi Schacter presented two questions about Kabbalat HaTorah, which immediately sparked conversation in the online discussion forum.


“The juicier a question is, the more exciting the learning becomes,” said 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.”


In addition to the online component, #EmpoweredLearning is also offered as a blended learning experience for synagogues and schools to watch and discuss in person. For one viewer, Rabbi Nevo Zuckerman of Ontario, the video was a novel way to share Torah with 45 members of his congregation at a “lunch and learn” event.


Two more videos will be shown in the weeks preceding Shavuot. Smadar Rosensweig, professor of Bible at Stern College for Women, will speak about the message of Megillat Ruth, and Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Weinberg, mashgiach ruchani at YU’s Irving I. Stone Beit Midrash Program, will discuss why the Torah was given to the Jewish people.


To register for #EmpoweredLearning, visit the web page.

Updated: May. 27, 2014