Revolutionary New Approach to Teaching Talmud is Being Promoted in Israel
Miami, FL) August 23, 2010—Gemara Berura, a learning tool developed by the organization Torah Through Technology, is a radically new, exciting, and effective approach to teaching Gemara, one that combines cutting-edge software with management consulting’s analytical and problem-solving approach. Targum Shlishi is helping support a pilot program for Gemara Berura to partner with the Israeli government’s Department of Education to bring Gemara Berura to Israeli day schools.
Gemara learning has long been a “problem” subject—it is central to Jewish education and critical to fully understanding Judaic issues and values, yet it is rarely taught effectively. Gemara Berura is changing the approach to teaching Talmud but not the content. The end goal is to help students learn how to learn. In terms of content, Gemara Berura adheres to the methods of interpretation that have been developed over thousands of years, making this a learning tool that has been accepted by all denominations of Judaism, including the most traditional.
The innovation has to do with the way it is taught. Instead of frontal lectures, where the students learn passively, the Gemara Berura approach is interactive and remarkably effective, due largely to the fact that it encourages active learning and allows for differentiated instruction. “We are changing the way Talmud education is being conducted by teaching the learning methodology as the core skill. In the past, Talmud has been taught by teaching cases or content, not methods. This is a paradigm shift in Jewish education,” explains Matty Monheit, the developer of Gemara Berura.
Monheit is a Raanana-based management consultant who felt that the motivational and learning tools he routinely uses in business could be applied to teaching Gemara. To develop Gemara Berura, he worked with a team of rabbis, educators, teachers, computer programmers, and others over the course of six years.
Gemara Berura has been developed, tested, implemented, and evaluated over the past ten years with remarkable results—overall motivation, learning skills, grades, and teacher satisfaction have significantly increased.
Gemara Berura is being used in middle and high schools in more than forty day schools in the United States and was introduced to the UK last year. The initiative, spearheaded by Rabbi Meir Fachler, is now expanding its presence in Israel. Targum Shlishi is helping support the Israeli pilot program’s marketing efforts.
In the past, Targum Shlishi spearheaded a fundraising effort for Gemara Berura and helped bring the program to the Miami Jewish community. “We’ve seen that Gemara Berura has the ability to revolutionize Talmud teaching in the schools where it is being used in the U.S. Now we are looking forward to bringing the program to a wider audience in Israel and to the benefit that students there will receive from using this innovative method,” says Aryeh Rubin. “This initiative is an inspiring example of the way that technology can be applied to Jewish education.”
About Gemara Berura
Gemara Berura works with the original Gemara text, and can be used to study any sugiya contained in the Shas. Gemara Berura also provides access to a growing data-bank of specific sugiot and lesson plans prepared by the program’s development team. The program can be used not only in the classroom but by individual learners, chevrutot, and study groups. Using Gemara Berura helps learners acquire the skills necessary for understanding the text and its structure. The central aim of Gemara Berura is to help learners analyze the unique structure of the Gemara text. A clear understanding of the structure of the text forms a solid basis which enables students to progress towards the deeper meaning and significance of the sugiya. For more information about Gemara Berura, visit its website at www.gemaraberura.com.
About Targum Shlishi
Targum Shlishi, a Raquel and Aryeh Rubin Foundation, is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi’s initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish. For more information on the foundation, visit its website at www.targumshlishi.org.