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Sefaria for Educators

This past year, Sefaria’s education team visited schools in Los Angeles, Boston, New York, New Jersey, Detroit, Toronto, and Chicago, and spoke with educators in many other cities. The questions we hear over and over are:

  • How can I use Sefaria in my classroom?
  • How are other educators using Sefaria to teach?
  • How can I connect to the community of Sefaria educators?

Welcome to the education channel on our blog, where we’ll post answers to these questions, and any others that you suggest. We look forward to sharing the creativity and experience of educators who have been experimenting with Sefaria.

Bat Sheva Miller, a participant in our Partnership Initiative, used Sefaria as the basis for the final project assignment for a class on teshuva (repentance) for middle school students at the Oakland Hebrew Day School OHDS).

OHDS students created source sheets on Sefaria that required them to to personally engage with the texts. Below is the assignment the students received:

Your source sheets should have:

At least two sources we have looked at during the class

  • Your final art interpretative project on Teshuva
  • One additional source/media of your choice
  • At least one set of questions for one of your sources

 

The result:  a set of beautiful digital source sheets, which were shared within the school community. You can see examples here and here.

Can you imagine adapting this assignment to your classroom or context? What questions do you have about teaching with Sefaria? Let us know how we can help you use this platform to serve your teaching needs. Get in touch!

Masoret haShas (and haMidrash)

If you’ve ever studied Talmud from the traditional Vilna Shas layout, you’ve probably noticed or taken advantage of the Masoret haShas in the margins. Originally compiled by Joshua Boaz ben Simon Baruch in the sixteenth century, Masoret haShas are notes and cross references on the side of the page, directing readers to related passages found elsewhere in the Talmud. It was an immense work that religious scholars have added to over the centuries.

The William Davidson Talmud has our own take on Masoret haShas, finding and building over 50,000 textual links. And while the standard Masoret haShas connects different Talmudic texts, ours takes advantage of Sefaria’s library to create something new: connections between the Talmud and other texts as well, including nine major Midrashic works.

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Sefaria for the Visually Impaired

Sefaria is all about making the texts of the Jewish tradition accessible to everybody. So far we’ve been accomplishing this by making texts and translations available on our website, in our mobile apps, and as data that people can download in a variety of formats.

But could a blind or visually impaired person access these resources? Unfortunately, until recently, most of us on the Sefaria team hadn’t spent enough time thinking about this question.

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Setting the Talmud Free

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More than fifty years ago, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel took it upon himself to make the Talmud, the central text of Jewish life, available to all. In 1965, he began translating the 37 tractates of the Talmud from ancient Aramaic into Modern Hebrew, with an English translation published in the Koren Talmud Bavli Noé Edition. Ninety percent of the world’s Jewish population speaks English or Hebrew as a first language, so making the Talmud intelligible in these two languages is a colossal achievement, but until now, this precious content was only available to those with access to a physical volume.

Today, Sefaria is excited and humbled to announce the release of The William Davidson Talmud, a free digital edition of the Babylonian Talmud with parallel translations, interlinked to major commentaries, biblical citations, Midrash, Kabbalah, Halakhah, and an ever-growing library of Jewish texts.

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