Three Reasons You Should Use Sefaria for the New School Year

September 4, 2016

Source: Tech Rav Blog


I have always admired Sefaria, the online platform for Jewish text. I wholeheartedly subscribe to their vision of creating freely available, high-quality online Jewish text both in Hebrew and translation. I love their start-up feel with a team of dedicated coders incrementally improving Sefaria on a regular basis, supplemented by thousands of contributors who through crowdsourced translations and public worksheets have augmented the product. Their commitment to the open and free use of their digital text and source code has allowed an ecosystem of Jewish apps to be built using Sefaria.

I am so ecstatic about Sefaria's improvements in the past 3 months which have not been of the incremental kind but have been ground-breaking. They have created a whole new Sefaria which has made the platform a must-have addition to any Judaic classroom for the new school year.

Sefaria's Completed Redesigned Interface

Sefaria has replaced the scrolling sidebar of textual connections with an organized listing of various commentaries and other connected sources. This addition alone has transformed the usability of Sefaria in the classroom with all of the gems included in Sefaria now easily available at one's fingertips.

But this is not the only noteworthy addition in the new interface. Sefaria has also added a series of Tools for each text. These include sharing text on social media or email, adding notes to any text while logged into Sefaria either privately or publicly to share with others, and even comparing two different texts from Sefaria side by side.

Sefaria's Google Drive Export

Sefaria's new Export to Google Drive function is truly a game changer. One can create a full worksheet in Sefaria and then, if intended for printing in class, one could first export the sheet to Google Drive which allows for more sophisticated word processing tools to design it to perfectly format to the printed page.

Sefaria's Assignments Tool

Assignments allows the teacher to create an unlimited number of copies of any sheet for the student to digitally fill in with their account and hand in to the teacher. This is similar to Google classroom but built into the Sefaria platform so it is much easier for most teachers, especially those who do not use a Learning Management System or who use one different than Google Classroom. All the teacher needs to do is create a worksheet in Sefaria with some comment blocks for teacher questions, then click on Assignments, and Assign this Sheet.

Then a link is generated which the teacher can now share with all of her students. When each student opens the link, it creates a new version of the sheet using the student's account. The teacher merely needs to find her original sheet in Sefaria and she will see the student's Saved Assignments together with her original version. When the assignment is done, she clicks Stop Collecting Assignments and the students are no longer able to submit responses. This assignments feature has made the dream of the paperless classroom with an easy student workflow within reach of any teacher.

These three upgrades to Sefaria's already powerful platform, the redesigned, user-friendly interface, the export to Google Drive, and the Assignments feature are why I am so excited about using Sefaria for the coming school year.

If you are already a Sefaria user but have not checked it over the summer, give it another look. Besides the features listed above, Sefaria has added so many enhancements, I am sure it will not disappoint. And if you are new to Sefaria, give it a try. It might just transform your students ability to engage with high-level Torah texts, make connections throughout the corpus of Tanakh and Torah She Baal Peh and begin to develop and share their own Chiddushei Torah, original interpretations.

Read the entire post at Tech Rav Blog.

Updated: Sep. 11, 2016