“The Torah is a tree of life for those who grasp it.” - Proverbs 3:18
Each November, the Global Day of Jewish Learning brings the Jewish people together to celebrate their shared heritage and to study Jewish texts as a community. The day is intended to foster Jewish unity, empower individuals through Torah learning, and create meaningful shared experiences. In honor of this year’s Global Day of Jewish Learning on Sunday, November 15th, we’ve highlighted three great digital resources you can use to engage your students in a variety of Jewish texts. Read below to learn about the resources and how you can integrate them into your curriculum.
With audio, video, and illustrated, explanatory PDFs for every daf of Talmud, Daf Hachaim could definitely become a favorite resource of your Talmud students. With plenty of room for both individual and collaborative work there are a number of ways to use the website to support a blended classroom. For each daf, there’s an Daf Intro video, which students could watch at home to familiarize themselves with the content of the daf before coming to class, such as in a flipped model. The Full Video Shiur is highly interactive, enabling students to click on a specific line in the daf, which then activates the video to play and explain that particular section. Students could use this interactive platform at home, giving them the background necessary to bolster chevruta work later in class. The video explanations are especially helpful when studying a certain part of the text proves to be challenging. Another approach would be for students to first study the daf on their own with text only, and then check their work by using the Daf Review video. For students who need more support in their studies, the explanatory PDFs are well-organized and can provide an additional way to understand the concepts in each daf. To provide an extra challenge to advanced students, the teacher could task them with making Daf Hachaim-style videos and textual guides for younger students. Bonus: There's also a free Daf Hachaim app for the iPad!
The Zemirot Database
This website is the ultimate in communal participation, because the entire database is editable, resembling a wiki page. Teachers may want to begin with having students study particular zemirot. Each one can be found easily by either browsing the alphabetical list or searching by keyword. For students who learn better auditorily rather than through text, many songs are also accompanied by audio recordings or videos. Since the database is entirely editable, there is great potential for student involvement and project-based learning. Once students are comfortable with particular songs, they can add information to the page, improve the translation, upload their own recordings, and more. In this way, they’ll be able to make their own personal contributions to the collection of online Judaic resources. Knowing that other learners will be depending on them for accurate information will go a long way in engaging them to do their best work!
The Open Siddur Project
This open source siddur has a variety of features that you’ll be able to use in your classroom. At its most basic, the website is a simple digital siddur, with sections for various prayers like those you would see in a printed prayer book. However, Open Siddur is much more expansive than a printed siddur because it includes liturgies for a whole range of nusach as well as multiple iterations of the same prayers. The diversity of Open Siddur stems from the fact that it is a community-created siddur, meaning that prayers are present because they were submitted by individuals wishing to contribute their own liturgies to the project. This means students can both study traditional prayers like the traditional Kabbalat Shabbat, and also find numerous original prayers, kavannot, and artistic works that have been created by other participants of the project. At the beginning of a lesson on prayer, teachers might want their students to study the traditional prayers in a station as part of a blended learning rotation. Students can then begin to branch out from the familiar liturgy and investigate the kinds of content that make up an original prayer. Open Siddur will also provide a great platform to inspire project-based learning and increase student agency. Students can select a topic and then design an original prayer submission for the website that speaks to them. There are lots of different options for the kinds of materials that can be submitted, and the process of choosing an open content license will also tie in digital citizenship, teaching students about copyright and the various ways information is protected online. The fact that student submissions are published on the site rather than remaining in the classroom adds a real-world element for students, which speaks especially well to teens.