Online Learning Opportunities During the Omer

It is customary to study Jewish texts – mostly commonly Pirkei Avot – during Sefirat Ha’Omer, the period of time between Passover and Shavuot. Many take the opportunity to occupy themselves with Torah study in the late Shabbat afternoons when the days are longer. The sages believed it was a worthwhile practice and would keep people focused on Sabbath observance.
Here are four opportunities for online study during this period.

TORAH DAILY

I launched the Torah Daily Facebook page after reading Jennifer Preston’s article in the New York Times about Jesus Daily. I was convinced that there was a need to provide spiritual and inspirational texts and quotes from Jewish wisdom. With the encouragement and assistance of the leadership of Clal’s Rabbi Irwin Kula, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield and Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu, I created the Facebook page and invited friends and colleagues to follow it. It quickly gained a following and then one of my colleagues in Clal’s Rabbi’s Without Borders fellowship program Rabbi Juan Mejia worked with me to create the Spanish language version called Torá Diaria. Torah Daily has close to 1,000 followers on Facebook, which is nothing close to the 17.5 million fans Jesus Daily has but it’s become a dependable source for inspiration. Several rabbis and Jewish educators contribute meaningful lessons to inspire Torah Daily’s followers. The almost daily posting of quotes from Jewish wisdom can be shared with friends on Facebook and discussed using the Torah Daily Facebook page as a forum. I described the need for Torah Daily in a Huffington Post article.

 

HuffPost-Rabbi-Jason-Omer

HUFFPOST OMER LIVEBLOG

Last year, Huffington Post’s Religion vertical associate editor Josh Fleet has put together a live blog that offers daily inspiration and learning during Sefirat Ha-Omer, the 49 day period of the Omer. He writes in the liveblog’s introduction, “On Passover, perhaps Judaism’s most widely observed holiday, secular and religious Jews alike recall the story of the Israelites’ exodus from slavery in Egypt. On Shavuot, perhaps Judaism’s most-important-least-observed festival, a smaller contingent of the Jewish people celebrates receiving the Torah. In between these joyous mile-markers of past desert wanderings, even fewer modern Jews observe the Counting of the Omer, a 49-day period of self-reflection and spiritual renewal. HuffPost Religion would like to change that. Here, throughout Sefirat HaOmer, as it’s called in Hebrew, we offer the opportunity to ascend the 49 levels of renewal as part of a virtual Omer community. Each day, we will update this liveblog with spiritual intentions, prayers, Scripture, poems, art and reflections from our bloggers and readers related to that day’s spiritual energy.” Those wishing to contribute their Omer inspirations can send an email to religion@huffingtonpost.com for possible inclusion.

TANAKH-CAST

Dan Mendelsohn Aviv’s TanakhCast. Mendelsohn Aviv’s motto for his Torah study session podcast is “Give us something like 18 minutes, and we’ll give you the WHOLE TANAKH! (But not all at once – obviously…).” With sound effects and a nice jazz tune, he offers an easy to understand lesson on a few chapters of the Bible. Funny at times, Mendelsohn Aviv makes the stories of the Torah interesting and fun. The short podcasts keep people’s attention and make them want to come back for the next podcast study session.

 

TWEET TORAH TO THE TOP

Jewish Twitter users are once again studying Torah and attempting to get the hashtag #Torah to top Twitter’s trending terms list. Originally launched in 2009 by Rabbi Shai Gluskin, Tweet #Torah to the Top is an effort to spread the teachings of the Torah and the discussions surrounding them to as many people as possible by organizing a collaborate effort to tweet on Erev Shavuot. Each year more Tweeps (Twitter people) seem to join the campaign by learning Torah and tweeting what they learn on the social networking site using the #Torah hashtag. As Rabbi Mark Hurvitz explained, “I think this is a great way to encourage awareness of Torah. I’m sure we each have many simple “Torah thoughts” that can be expressed in 133 characters (Hurvitz reminds participants to leave room in their tweets for the final space and #Torah). An example of a Torah-infused tweet is “Neither is #Torah beyond the sea, that you might say: Who shall go over the sea & bring it to us & make us hear it, that we may do it?” Hurvitz explained that the goal isn’t just to get #Torah to trend, but also to have this project serve as a global learning experience, to learn something, meet new people, and feel closer to the revelation at Sinai.

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Jewish Techs: The Jewish Technology Blog

This blog looks at how modern technology affects Jewish life, particularly the impact of the Internet on Jews across the globe. The Internet has made the Jewish community seem smaller. The Jewish Techs blog, written by blogger Rabbi Jason Miller (The Techie Rabbi), explores the places where Jewish culture, education and faith intersect with technology. Of course, like anything, Jews will continue to ask if technology is good or bad for the Jews – the age old question of our people. Good or bad, it is undisputed that technology has changed Jewish life. If you’re Jewish or interested in technology or both… you’ll enjoy the conversation. Thanks for reading the Jewish Techs blog.

The Techie Rabbi – Rabbi Jason Miller

Rabbi Jason Miller, the Techie RabbiJason Miller is NOT your typical rabbi. Known as the Techie Rabbi, he launched Access Computer Technology in 2010 and has grown it into a full-scale technology firm that provides social media marketing consulting and web design in addition to IT support. Ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary a decade ago, Rabbi Jason has made a name for himself as a popular blogger, social media expert, educator and entrepreneur. Based in Detroit, his congregation includes more than a million people who read his blog and follow him in Cyberspace. He began the Jewish Techs blog in January 2010 as the New York Jewish Week's technology expert.

An entrepreneurial rabbi and an alum of Clal's "Rabbi Without Borders" fellowship, Jason Miller is a rabbi and thought leader whose personal blog has been viewed by millions. The Detroit Free Press called him “the most tech-savvy Jewish leader" and the Huffington Post ranked him among the top Jewish Twitter users in the world. A social media expert, Rabbi Jason is a popular speaker and writer on technology and its effect on the Jewish world. He writes the "Jewish Techs" blog for The Jewish Week and the monthly "Jews in the Digital Age" column for the Detroit Jewish News.

Miller won the 2012 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce and is one of the winners of a Jewish Influencer award from the National Jewish Outreach Program.