Torah took the mound at Citi Field as the Orthodox Union fielded a team of 29 internationally renowned scholars, who led classes on a wide array of 31 subjects for around 2,500 participants, at its third annual Torah New York event last weekend.
The classes ranged from more traditional approaches on how to prepare spiritually for the Jewish High Holidays to more modern issues like repentance in a time of social media and the effects that artificial intelligence will have on Shabbat observance in the future.
In addition to lectures, the Semichat Chaver Program and siyyum (celebration of the completion of any unit of Torah study, or book of the Mishnah or Talmud) attracted 400 people from 23 North American communities. NCSY teen programming and a parallel interactive program took place for children ages 5 to 12.
Also previewed was an app for daily Talmud study called “ALL DAF.”
The app is expected to transform the way Daf Yomi is studied in the future with its interactive statistics, graphs, charts, video, maps and biographies. It is expected to launch with the new seven-year learning cycle that starts in early January 2020.
Sivan Rahav Meir, a political reporter for Israel’s Channel 2, told a packed audience of the dangers of wealth, privilege and unbridled access to social media.
“It is no longer good enough to have Amazon, now you need Amazon Prime. We can’t even wait a week for a package to arrive; it has to be that day or at least the next. What does that say about our culture? This is the crisis of our generation. How do we learn to use social media for the good, but turn it off and away from things that distract us and our children?” she posed.
Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon, an internationally acclaimed posek (“decisor”), author, educator and lecturer on helping shape the contemporary Jewish world, welcomed how artificial intelligence could benefit halachic observance in the future. While he cautioned about the impact robots might have on Shabbat in the home, there could be many other benefits that would enhance life for observant Jews in the future.
The event also featured a first-ever recording of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik teaching one of his famed annual Teshuva Drashas.
“It is so exciting to observe the eagerness of our community to connect to Torah study and to a deeper understanding of their relationship to God,” said Orthodox Union president Moishe Bane. “In these days immediately before the High Holidays, I cannot imagine a more profound message to God of our eagerness to connect.” JN