Talmud Torah in the 21st Century

New Iteration of the YUTorah App Brings Jewish Learning to the World

Rabbi Yaakov Glasser
Rabbi Yaakov Glasser

On Sunday, March 3, 2019, over 250 people attended the official launch of the Marcos and Adina Katz YUTorah app in a special session of the Arbesfeld Yom Rishon program for men and women. Among those attending was Adina Katz along with members of the Katz family.

Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, David Mitzner Dean of the Center for the Jewish Future, opened the ceremonies by announcing that YUTorah now contained 182,997 shiurim [lectures], making it “the largest audio library of Torah learning in the world, connecting thousands of Jews worldwide.” He also gave thanks to the thousands of speakers who have donated freely of their time to share their learning.

Dr. Ari Berman
Dr. Ari Berman

In welcoming Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, Glasser noted that “leading the Torah world in harnessing technology to spread our tradition is very much an expression of the vision and the entrepreneurial spirit that Dr. Berman has brought to YU. As he said in his investiture address, we live in a rapidly changing world, and we have a mandate to engage that world with our values and ideas.”

In acknowledging Adina Katz and the Katz family for their enduring support of YUTorah, he called YUTorah “one of the great achievements of the Jewish people today” and a “force multiplier like nothing else in our world.” He went to say that the broad reach of YUTorah means that “nothing can stop the power of our Torah and the power of our ideas. YUTorah takes our ideas and broadcasts them to the leaders of the future of tomorrow and out to the broader Jewish community and to the world.”

Rabbi Hershel SchachterRabbi Hershel Schachter, rosh yeshiva [dean] and rosh kollel [head of the kollel] at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), gave the keynote address, which focused on the Jewish community’s obligation to learn Torah in order to teach Torah to the world. “We have an obligation to transmit the Torah to the maximum audience possible,” and YUTorah can do this well because it presents Torah learning in many different styles that can get people accustomed to learning in many different ways.

The keynote address was followed by “Talmud Torah in the 21st Century,” a panel discussion moderated by Rabbi Glasser. The panelists were Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz (incoming director of semicha [rabbinic ordination] at RIETS), Mrs. Chaya Batya Neugroschl (head of school for the Samuel H. Wang Yeshiva University High School for Girls), Rabbi Shai Schachter (rosh beis medrash [study hall leader] at Young Israel of Woodmere, New York) and Rabbi Moseh Tzvi Weinberg (rebbe and mashgiach ruchani [spiritual supervisor], Irving I. Stone Beit Midrash Program and mashpia [spiritual mentor] of Congregation Beth Abraham).

YUTorah update launch event for the app, featuring the Katz Family. Keynote address by Rabbi Herschel Schachter. Panelists included Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz, Mrs. Chaya Batya Neugroschl (CB Neugroschl), Rabbi Shay Schachter, and Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Weinberg.
(l-r): Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Weinberg, Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz, Mrs. Chaya Batya Neugroschl and Rabbi Shay Schachter

Their exchange focused on four questions posed by Rabbi Glasser: 1) There is a tremendous popularity on YUTorah for short shiurim, five to 20 minutes in length. What are the implications of this trend for Torah learning?; 2) Many communications to YUTorah are from those who have said they’ve completed their learning through YUTorah on their own. Is it necessary to have a rebbe?; 3) Given the popularity of online Torah learning, is there a way to integrate this technology into the classroom?; and 4) How has online access to Torah content change the way we have solicited halachic [according to Jewish law] guidance?

The Katz family was also honored at a special reception with Dr. Berman.

Reception for the Katz Family following the launch of the YUTorah App event in the President's office. Adina Katz and her family attended.
Adina Katz (fifth from left) stands next to Dr. Ari Berman along with members of the Katz and Portnoy families