Why Mechon Hadar’s New Website is a Big Deal

November 14, 2014

Source: eJewish Philanthropy


Founded less than a decade ago, Mechon Hadar, or Hadar for short, is the umbrella institution of the celebrated halakhic egalitarian Yeshivat Hadar. Hadar just updated its website and it’s not just another institutional facelift. After eight years of growth, Hadar has created a treasure trove of Torah resources, and now it has chosen to share them, intentionally. With very few exceptions, all of Hadar‘s resources are now shared with an Open Content license.


Keeping Torah open is a longstanding pursuit in Rabbinic Judaism. In one famous story in the Talmud (Yoma 35b), Hillel the Elder nearly froze to death while prevented from entering the study hall. The rule of Hillel’s grandson, the sage Gamaliel, was overthrown by colleagues who intended to improve access and participation in it. In the 16th century, the MaHaRaL of Prague explained that we make the infinite Torah *finite* when we learn but refuse to teach. Mechon Hadar has engaged on a project of enlarging its virtual yeshiva, and as a matter of course, it’s employing Open Content licenses to achieve this longstanding rabbinic Jewish ideal of making the beit midrash as open as possible.


Mechon Hadar‘s website contains a vast and growing curated database of divrei torah, translations of sourcetexts, and audio recordings of lectures and music, all available for download. This sets Mechon Hadar on par with a number of other websites of productive Yeshivot. What distinguishes Hadar from them is Hadar‘s adoption of the Attribution (CC BY) 4.0 International license, the Open Content license authored and maintained by the Creative Commons organization, that makes all of this content available for adaptive reuse.


The CC BY license tells the teacher who downloads a Hadar sourcesheet that they’re welcome and encouraged to remix it into their curriculum. It lets the gabbai of an independent minyan know they can make copies of Jewish liturgy and remix it into their siddur. It lets chavruta partners around the world know they can integrate translations from sourcesheets into their own and copy audio files of Hadar shiurim and lectures onto their portable media players. It tells innovative projects like the Open Siddur Project and Sefaria to please copy and integrate Hadar‘s creative efforts into their own open source Torah Databases.

Read more at eJewish Philanthropy.

Updated: Nov. 24, 2014