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Educational Tech & Judaism

Ed Tech and Judaism

About 2000 years ago there existed a fascinating and motivated people. A people, inspired by their G-d given guide book, who looked to live as role models for society and to infect humanity with positive moral living to create the perfect world. They encouraged mass education and as a culture, they emboldened the concepts of family values, justice for all and social responsibility.

Tragically, the world around them advanced and found ways to communicate knowledge that simply didn’t lend itself to the traditional methods of this unique people. Their youth were attracted by these new and captivating methods and as a result, they would choose only to educate themselves with information that was delivered with the revolutionised approach to learning.

As you can imagine, the elders and traditionalists of this once inspired people were greatly pained and troubled. They questioned “We have such a rich and unique culture. We teach life skills and values that are integral to creating a utopian society, why would our young look elsewhere?”

These people were called the Hebrews and you can find many ancient relics of this magnificent culture in many museums today.

G-d forbid! This certainly is not the case. Judaism has thrived through the centuries and made a tremendous impact on society.

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John Adams and Winston Churchill acknowledged the impact of Jews to ‘civilize’ and create ‘a system of ethics’ for greater society, so it’s clear that Judaism has an immense reputation.

We have, however, reached the Tech revolution which has as much potential to distract Jews from Judaism as it has to engage them with it.

Social media, Youtube and gaming applications can fill our time with nonsense or be used as a platform to keep in touch with family overseas, fundraise for a charity or absorb a Torah education in a stimulating and energising fashion.

Jewish Education and Technology

Judaism is not an ancient culture with old fashioned ideas, it’s principles are eternal and the only thing that needs to change is the mode in which to communicate its powerful lessons, ideas and ethics. Ji Tap is a great example of this. 

When discussing the items that needed to be made for the Mishkan- Tabernacle, the Torah says ‘Make for yourself two silver trumpets - make them hammered out, and they shall be yours for the summoning of the Assembly and to cause the camps to journey. (10:2)

The Peninim the Torah (Translated by Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum) explains; the Talmud Menachos 28b states: "All the vessels which Moshe made were valid for him and (remained) valid for future generations. (This is exclusive of) the Chatzotzrots, silver trumpets, which were valid for him and invalid for future generations."

All the other special vessels could be made to last for future generations but the silver trumpets were different. They were made by Moshe for his own use; no one else could use Moshe's trumpets. They would have to fashion their own.

The rationale behind the trumpets' exclusiveness is simple. The trumpets were used to rally the people; to call them together; to initiate forward movement. Every generation has its unique manner of communication. What was novel last century might be considered primitive by contemporary standards. Likewise, the masses respond differently today than they did one hundred years ago. How we respond to the call of our leadership defines us; how our leadership conveys their message will somehow reflect upon them.

While it is important that, with the changing times, the method of communication must change to placate the level of and attitude concerning the art of listening - the message must be the same. The call to Torah has not changed in three thousand years. We might resort to a different presentation or manner of expression, but the message is unchanging. Truth is immutable.

The Aron HaKodesh, the Shulchan and the Menorah could be handed down from one generation to the next, because they each, in its own way, represent a timeless valued aspect of Judaism. Their message is a constant and absolute. How their message is conveyed depends on the lifestyle and culture of the people of that generation. Someone living in an age of materialism must be spoken to in "his" language. At times the "volume" must be lowered, and, at times, it must be raised. It all depends on the generation's ability to hear and acquiesce, to listen and accept.

Today's language is certainly for many of us technology such as Ji Tap.

Our challenge is to jump on the wild stallion of technology, grab the reins tightly and use its prodigious and mammoth capabilities to motivate, empower and engage the next generation to not just connect with their Judaism but to learn how to ride the stallion themselves.

At Jewish Interactive we believe that technology is the new set of silver trumpets. We want to guarantee that our children are ‘listening’ to the meaningful melodies of The Al-mighty's wisdom and to continue to be engaged and inspired via Ji Tap.

Download Ji Tap now:

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Sammy Morhaim

Written by Sammy Morhaim

Sammy Morhaim is the UK and European manager of Jewish Interactive. Sammy was recently Head of Jewish Studies at the King David School Manchester, an outstanding school, where he also led training on using iPads in education. An innovative and energetic Jewish educator, his passion is in keeping Judaism relevant and he often lectures on the subject. He is an expert in combining educational pedagogy with technology and has developed many digital games for Jewish learning. He has had practical experience implementing technology in his classroom and in many other school settings. Sammy has two BA degrees, in Humanities and Education respectively and he is a Qualified Teacher. Sammy studied in Yeshivot Ohr Sameach, Kerem B'Yavneh and Aish HaTorah.

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