Online Course Teaches Rabbis Art of Public Speaking

YU Continuing Education Webinar Series for Rabbis Explores Advanced Methodologies for Research, Content and Delivery 

Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) and YU-affiliate Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) announced today the launch of “Drashas and Shiurim: From Good to Great,” a continuing rabbinic education course that aims to provide communal, campus and outreach rabbis with the tools they need to prepare for and deliver timely, engaging and inspiring drashas [sermons] and shiurim [Torah classes].

The 11-part online lecture series will leverage the communication expertise of longtime community rabbis, experienced educators, acclaimed authors and storytellers, successful entrepreneurs, and award-winning producers and entertainers to explore methodologies for research, content development and delivery, as well as best practices for adding depth and dimension to all public speeches by weaving in historical facts, current events, psychology, pop culture, humor, business knowledge and personal experiences.  Presenters will also share tips for perfecting storytelling techniques and locating interesting and relevant materials for inclusion in sermons and lectures.

The course, which boasts more than 50 participants from around the world, including rabbis in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa and Israel, is scheduled to begin on January 7 with an in-depth look at the ultimate goal of giving sermons, lectures and Torah classes.

“Public speaking is one of the most important skills for every rabbi to develop, and their abilities to craft and deliver powerful and informative drashas and shiurim will determine their impact in the communities they serve,” said Rabbi Naphtali Lavenda, director of online rabbinic programming at the CJF. “This webinar series was developed to equip rabbis with the tools they need to maximize every speaking opportunity as a vehicle for connecting with and inspiring their audiences.”

Throughout the course, participants will receive a thorough selection of reference materials and related articles. In between classes, participants will interact with one another via the course’s dedicated online forum and schedule offline conversations with the instructors and experts in the fields of communications and entertainment.

“We live in a world in which a rabbi must compete for their congregant’s attention with an array of highly developed technological devices,” said Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, David Mitzner Dean of the CJF. “In order to pierce the distractions of the modern world and hold people’s focus, drashas and shiurim must be substantive, creative and highly engaging. This course will elevate a rabbi’s capacity to serve as an educational and inspirational force of religious and spiritual transformation in people’s lives.”

The course’s impressive lineup of instructors includes David Sacks, Emmy Award-winning Hollywood screenwriter; Ashley Blaker, internationally acclaimed comedian and award-winning comedy writer and producer for radio and TV in the UK; Charlie Harary, noted motivational speaker; Lior Arussy, prolific author and president and CEO of Strativity Group Inc.; Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin, director of education for International NCSY; Rabbi Binny Freedman, rosh yeshiva of Orayta and director of Isralight in Jerusalem; Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz, of the popular “10 Minute Halacha” series on YUTorah and rabbi at Beis Haknesses of North Woodmere; Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, dean and Rabbi of Yavneh Hebrew Academy and author of Judaism Alive;as well as numerous members of the Yeshiva University and RIETS faculties.

“Drashas and Shiurim: From Good to Great” was cultivated by Rabbi Lavenda and Rabbi Glasser with input and guidance from Rabbi Menachem Penner, Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS, and Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, senior rabbi at Boca Raton Synagogue. The course is the eighth virtual continuing rabbinic education course organized and run by the CJF in coordination with RIETS. In previous years, CJF ran online courses on the issues surrounding infertility, rabbinic marriage counseling on a range of pastoral issues, child abuse, end of life issues, the fundamentals of fundraising and cultivating lasting relationships with congregants, chosson [groom] teacher training, and confronting mental health issues. Some of these past courses are available on demand at