Yemei Iyun B’Tanakh – Days and Nights of Learning

Over 5,000 people attended the Herzog College Yemei Iyun events in July 2023, including evening events in Jerusalem and Modi’in, and a special seminar in English for Jewish educators, with more watching from home around the world.

The July Tanakh Study Festival in Gush Etzion is in its 32nd year and drew bigger crowds than ever, despite the wealth of Tanakh material available today on every online platform, because of the shared excitement that it generates every year. This year’s program included 110 live lectures in Hebrew, 30 lectures in English, and five in French.

The speakers included internationally-renowned Bible scholars from Herzog College and Israel’s leading universities, teachers from Yeshivat Har Etzion, and visiting speakers from overseas, including Rabbi David Fohrman of Aleph Beta and Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter from Yeshiva University. Fifteen generous sponsors contributed to the cost of filming the lectures, so they could be livestreamed and uploaded for online viewing.

Five virtual video tours were recorded in English by top tour guides, with the Tanakh in their hands, following the pathways of the Avot – our forefathers – across Israel. Additional video material was created for watching on Tisha B’Av, reflecting on the experience of pilgrims visiting the Temple and the archeological record of its destruction, and considering why we still need to fast on Tisha B’Av following the creation of the State of Israel.

This year, evening Tanakh study programs were offered for the benefit of those who could not take time off work to attend the daytime conference. Large audiences came to Hechal Shlomo in Jerusalem and Kehillat Darchei Tzion in Modi’in to hear their choice of celebrity lecturers in Hebrew and English.

Rabbi Dr. Shalom Berger, who runs the English-language program at the Yemei Iyun, explained: “Even with the wealth of Tanakh material available today on every online platform, people attend these in-person events every year because of the shared excitement that they generate.” One of the lecturers at the event, Dr. Yosefa Fogel Wruble, described the experience as akin to Matan Torah – the gathering of thousands of Jews at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah!

Dr. Chaviva Speter launching "Tanakh Is Our Story"In another first, on the fourth day of at this year’s event, the international teacher education department of Herzog College – Herzog Global – hosted a Jewish Educators’ Day. It was attended by Tanakh teachers from yeshivot and midrashot in Israel, and by educators and school principals from overseas, including Yeshiva Torat Emet in Houston; Yeshivat Frisch in Bergen County; NJ; Yeshivat Har Torah in Queens; Berman Hebrew Academy, MD; Joe Dwek Ohr HaEmet Sephardic School in Toronto, Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto; the Prizmah Center for Jewish Day Schools; the Mayberg Foundation in Maryland; and Moriah College in Sydney, Australia.

There were workshops on teachers’ perceptions and classroom culture, empowering students as Tanakh learners, understanding the intellectual and emotional needs of our students, and different approaches to teaching Tanakh that make it more relevant to students’ Jewish identity. Herzog Global also launched their new curriculum for middle schools: “Tanakh Is Our Story”, developed together with UnitED. It is designed to make Bible study exciting for kids in Jewish community schools, by showing them that it is still relevant to their daily lives, and using stories from Tanakh to strengthen their Jewish identity. (Click here for more information about this curriculum.)

The seminar was organized in partnership with UnitED, Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School and Bar-Ilan’s Lookstein Center. The workshops were livestreamed and can be viewed online here.

Rabbi Berger explains: “We recognize that teachers need more than just inspiration to stay strong in the classroom. They need tips and tools for delivering their lessons in a relevant and engaging way. That’s why we brought together top pedagogues to share their experiences. 40 educators came from Israel and overseas to hear lectures and participate in workshops that highlighted teaching materials and methods developed here in Israel. We look forward to continuing these relationships throughout the year and to inviting teachers back to Israel for Yemei Iyun events in the future.”

If you missed the Yemei Iyun B’Tanakh, you can purchase an online pass to watch recorded lectures from the Yemei Iyun B’Tanakh at your own convenience. You can purchase 25 English lectures and five “Pathways of the Avot” Video Tours for 180 NIS, or the full program of 130 Hebrew and English lectures for 475 NIS. Click here to purchase.

Click here to read press coverage of the 2023 events:

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