Sailing To Understand Talmud and Torah

Published: 
October 4, 2014

Source: The Jewish Daily Forward

 

Every Friday, a small group of congregants attends Rabbi Greg Wall’s class, “Adrift in a Sea of Talmud,” aboard a 23-foot sailboat named Enough, which is owned by a member of the Beit Chaverim Synagogue of Westport/Norwalk. The synagogue prides itself in welcoming Jews, no matter what their level of observance is. The notion of holding a floating Talmud class is consistent with Wall’s past efforts to find new ways to connect Jews with Judaism. It’s an approach that involved many music events during his tenure at the Sixth Street Community Synagogue, in Manhattan’s East Village, from 2009 to 2012.

 

Combining learning content with direct experience, also known as experiential education, is a practice more common in Reform and Conservative Judaism, but some in the Modern Orthodox world are beginning to embrace it as well, according to Wall — because of a realization that Jewish literacy must be increased.

 

On a sunny afternoon in mid-September, the talmudic discussion focused on the mitzvah of hearing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah and identifying its requisite sounds. Wall speaks about the number of shofar blasts, the different kinds of blasts and in what order they are to be made on Rosh Hashanah. He explains that the Talmud discusses the shofar sounding like human crying by using examples of a slow sobbing and a faster-paced wailing.

 

For Joyce Singer, a Beit Chaverim congregant, the Talmud class on the sailboat was the first time she had studied Talmud in a formal setting.

 

Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University, had not previously heard about Jews going out on a boat to study Talmud. “But I am not surprised,” he said. “This is just a modern version of the rabbinical dictum to make set times for studying Torah.”

 

Read more at The Forward.

Updated: Oct. 22, 2014
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