This Sunday, November 7, Jewish communities across the globe will come together for one purpose – to study. The event, the first ever Global Day of Jewish Learning, was born out of a desire to commemorate the monumental completion of a translation of the entire Talmud (oral law). But it has snowballed into something much more accessible for those not accustomed to studying Jewish texts. It’s a day for Jewish communities to come together and celebrate all of the elements that bind us together, a day to transcend denominations and differences and instead focus on the core of who we are as a Jewish people. But it’s also a day that provides us with an amazing opportunity for outreach to those on the periphery of the Jewish community.
The unifying theme of the day is tied to the philosophy of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, who has spent the last five decades translating the Talmud. He believes that despite differences in thought, philosophy, and practice, we are all “bound together through our sacred sources and values.” To encourage folks to approach Judaism and the community, Jewish institutions and organizations all over the world are planning free activities throughout the day. Rabbi Kerry Olitzky, JOI’s Executive Director, will be among those leading a discussion as part of the global event at the Solomon Schechter Day School in East Brunswick, NJ (it’s free and begins at 10:30 am).
Opening up such doors to engagement in the Jewish community is a noble effort, but we can’t help but wonder what happens on November 8. How are communities going to turn their activities into more than a one-time meeting? What do they have planned for the rest of the year? The Global Day of Jewish Learning will draw out thousands of families who don’t normally participate in Jewish life. What are we doing to ensure they don’t slip through our fingers?
We hope all those hosting activities and events take advantage of this unique opportunity to share not only Jewish education, but also the value and meaning of being a part of the Jewish community.
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