In an effort to assist communities celebrating the holiday of Shavuot at home, the Orthodox Union, the nation’s oldest and largest umbrella organization for the North American Orthodox Jewish community, has created a unique online pre-Shavuot Torah learning platform. “Sinai At Home” will offer learning resources from world renowned Torah scholars on a variety of Torah topics with the aim of empowering people to learn at a high level on their own or with their families.
The holiday of Shavuot, normally celebrated with all-night learning in synagogues on its first eve, will be celebrated from sundown on May 28 through May 30. Similar to other Jewish holidays, its typical celebration includes large gatherings for prayers and meals with friends and family. Most communities also celebrate with widely attended learning programs like lectures and small group or paired learning.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is highly unlikely that most communities will have returned to their synagogues before Shavuot begins and even less likely that they will be able to return to the large-scale learning programs they previously experienced.
The Orthodox Union’s Department of Torah Initiatives has created “Sinai at Home” to empower learning in the home. The platform will host learning material and accompanying explanatory video, organized by categories like Tanach, Mussar, Gemara, etc. Site visitors will be able to then add shiurim to their “carts” which will allow them to print all the PDFs in one packet. Those interested in taking part in Sinai at Home can visit ou.org/sinai.
“We’re bringing the beis midrash to you through the Sinai at Home program. We will be virtually learning together online this Shavuot by enabling the community to tap into a rich treasure trove of shiurim that they can share with their families,” said Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane.
The speakers include: Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh, Rabbi David Fohrman, Rabbi Ahron Lopiansky, Rabbi Yitzchok Feldman, Rabbi Shmuel Silber, Rabbi Shalom Baum, Rabbi Philip Moskowitz, Rabbi Avraham Shmidman, Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, Rabbi Asher Brander, Rabbi Steven Weil, Rabbi Ariel Shoshan, Rabbi Moshe Hauer, Rabbi Ariel Rackovsky, Rabbi Andrew Markowitz, Rebbetzin Tzipora Weinberg, Rebbetzin Dr. Adina Shmidman, Professor Shoshana Schechter, Mrs. Michal Horowitz, Rabbanit Shani Taragin, Professor Smadar Rosensweig, Rabbi Daniel Feldman, Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz, Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rabbi Yaakov Neuburger, Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, Rabbi Ya’akov Trump, Rabbi Gil Student, Rabbi Zev Goldberg, Rabbi Moshe Benovitz, Rabbi Judah Mischel, Rabbi Menachem Leibtag, Rabbi Avraham Kahan, Rabbi Gideon Weitzman, Mrs. Nechama Price, Rabbi Bentzi Epstein, Rabbi Mordechai Willig, Rabbi David Aaron, Rabbi Shlomo Rosner, Rabbi Shaul Robinson, Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey R. Woolf, Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, Rabbi Yosef Zvi Rimon, Rabbi Menachem Genack, Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersch Weinreb, and Rabbi Elyada Goldvicht.
“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a surge of interest in online learning of all types. Sinai at Home is yet another innovation our Torah Initiatives Department has developed to empower our community with the tools to enrich their learning, one of the cornerstones of the celebration of Shavuot,” added Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Allen Fagin.
“A centerpiece of the Shavuot holiday is the all-night learning that usually takes place in shuls across the country. This year, Shavuot will be different as we celebrate at home. Our goal was to create a program which could help our community thrive in the current circumstances,” said Orthodox Union managing director of Torah Initiatives Rabbi David Pardo.
Founded in 1898, the Orthodox Union (OU) serves as the voice of American Orthodox Jewry, with over 400 congregations in its synagogue network. As the umbrella organization for American Orthodox Jewry, the OU is at the forefront of advocacy work on both state and federal levels, outreach to Jewish teens and young professionals through NCSY, Israel Free Spirit Birthright, Yachad, and OU Press, among many other divisions and programs. For more information, visit OU.org.