by Karen Klieger Sponder
I recently Skyped with a rabbi in Uruguay, had a Google Hangout with an educator in Israel, and emailed with a rabbi in Australia. The Internet brings us virtually into the same room, enabling us to connect in ways that distance used to make impossible (or at least very difficult). We are collaborating on a new project, “24×24.”
On November 17th, Google Hangouts On Air will allow thousands of Jews around the world to study together with 24×24. 24×24 will bring 24 speakers from around the world – live, in real time – into homes for 24 hours of study, free of charge and broadcast on YouTube. This is the first time ever that Google Hangouts On Air will be used for Jewish learning on this scale.
24×24 is the capstone of this year’s Global Day of Jewish Learning. Over 400 communities in 40 countries and six continents will be united in a day of study. This year’s theme is “Creating Together: Jewish Approaches to Creativity and Collaboration.” The Global Day of Jewish Learning is sponsored by the Aleph Society, under the aegis of world renowned scholar, Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz.
According to Rabbi Steinsalz, “The Talmud is not a divine gift given to people. The Jewish people created it. But on the other hand, it created the Jewish people.” Rabbi Steinsaltz’s mission is to “Let My People Know”, The Global Day of Jewish Learning realizes the Rabbi’s vision of a people united by Jewish learning. With the Global Day now in its fourth year, 24×24 propels this vision forward into the digital age. We are excited that by pairing the transporting power of the Internet with the meaningful act of community-based study, this initiative will create a new way for all of us to learn, together.
24×24 will begin at 00:00 GMT/UTC on Sunday, November 17th. Anyone can watch at www.theglobalday.com/24×24, on Google+ or YouTube. Rabbi Steinsaltz will speak at 18:00 GMT/UTC, addressing “Creating Together.”
Joining him in engaging with Creating Together will be rabbis, scholars, artists and professors around the globe. Speakers include: Dr. Norma Joseph (Montreal), Dr. Leo Mock (Amsterdam), Rabbi Marc-Alain Ouaknin (Paris), Yoram Taharlev (Tel Aviv), Rabbi David Wolpe (Los Angeles) and many more. Topics include: “Uprooting Mountains, Maintaining Sinai” (Maya Bernstein); “Of Roses and Prohibitions” (Rabbi Ari Ellis); and “The Theological Art of Storytelling” (Dara Horn). Classes will be in seven languages.
Several of the 24×24 speakers, in anticipation of their participation, commented on the power of Jewish learning to unite us. Hanan Harchol, the multi-media artist behind Jewish Food For Thought, pointed out that “The synergy created by learning together has always been a part of Judaism.”
Rabbi Ian Goodhardt of the Blake Street Congregation (Melbourne) said “Torah is the greatest thing that unifies the Jewish people and to be part of teaching Torah to a worldwide audience is a unique opportunity. For 24 hours we have the chance to be “am echad, b’lev echad (one people with one heart).” Rabbi Ariel Kleiner of Nueva Congregacion Israelita (Montevideo) is thrilled that he “can join with others and be One People, a People of the Book, a People of Learning.”
While our work on behalf of the Jewish community can often leave us thinking about the many things that divide us, 24×24 offers a chance to refocus on what unites us. Now you can also be in the same virtual room as these speakers; come sit in on lessons broadcast from in-person community events and individual speakers worldwide. Learn. Connect. Be Inspired. Join us!
Karen Klieger Sponder serves as the Project Director of the Global Day of Jewish Learning, a project of the Aleph Society furthering Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Stesinaltz’s mission – “Let my people know.”