Rabbi-Hacking IV: Hacking Our Teaching
One of our colleagues wrote a humorous and thoughtful “rabbi’s” version of the ahl cheyt. One of them was “for the sins we have committed by relying on ‘Rabbi Google’ rather than the sacred texts in our study.” I can relate. The extent of Jewish teaching resources available online is extraordinary. Websites for texts, commentaries, and community continue to grow. A contemporary Kohelet could say, “Of the making of websites there is no end.”
How do we separate the wheat from the chaff? Personal preferences play a role. So denomination and ideology, along with usability and relevance. We all know of the excellent URJ site. What follows are some of my favorites. Please leave some of your favorite resources in the comments section so we can all benefit.
1. rabbisacks.org: Jonathan Sacks recently retired as Chief Rabbi of Great Britain. Yet, he has maintained a website filled with Torah commentaries, essays and lectures, and it is filled with wonderful ideas and chomer l’drush.
2. sefaria.org: A lay leader brought this to my attention. It gathers texts from the Tanach to Maimonides to Midrash Rabbah in Hebrew and English, in a format where one is able to create a teaching source sheet. The site is still developing, and the available texts are a bit haphazard. Yet, this site is beginning to prove eminently useful.
3. on1foot.com: Maintained by the American Jewish World Service, this site has a similar concept as Sefariah, but is more developed and focused on social justice. It also has the benefit of providing users with access to source sheets put together by others.
4. jta.org: JTA is a great source for Jewish news, opinion and blogs.
5. huffingtonpost.com/religion: I am biased, as I blog regularly for the Huffington Post, but the range of writers and topics is phenomenal. I’ve found many good ideas for lunch and learn and other adult education classes on the site.
6. mosaicmagazine.com: Mosaic is the successor the Jewish Ideas Daily. Though its selection has a clear conservative bent, Mosaic offers articles on topics in Jewish thought and history difficult to find elsewhere. Its articles lend themselves to good discussion.
7. tabletmag.com: Tablet is a bit more pop-culture orientated than Mosaic, but it also offers excellent essays on Jewish life and thought, and it is frequently updated.
8. michaelhyatt.com: This site has nothing to do with Judaism or Jewish life. In fact, its author is a devout Christian and former head of a major Christian-orientated publisher. But the insights on leadership and productivity are better than can be found anywhere else. He gives insights into blogging, organizational leadership, and how to get more done in less time. That’ something we can all use.
Rabbi Evan Moffic is the rabbi of Congregation Solel in Highland Park, IL.