When Gitta Jaroslawicz-Neufeld won $50,000 on the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? TV game show, she decided to use the money to fly to Israel to attend the Yemei Iyun B’Tanakh – a religious Bible study conference held at Herzog College in Alon Shvut in Israel’s Gush Etzion region. There she discovered an exciting world of Tanakh lecturers and resolved to help Jewish Studies teachers from New York schools to study with them.

“In previous years, anyone interested in learning from the world’s top Tanakh teachers has had to cover the expense of travel to Israel for a week”, Gitta explains. “One of the thin silver linings on the big black COVID-19 cloud is that the 2020 Yemei Iyun B’Tanakh event will take place online, making its exciting lectures accessible to everyone this year!”

The Herzog College Yemei Iyun B’Tanakh event traditionally takes place during the week before Tisha B’Av. Last year Herzog College also partnered with local communities across America to provide suitable video lectures for Tisha B’Av. Recognizing that the annual day of mourning the Temple will be particularly difficult for many people this year, they have decided to run the Yemei Iyun B’Tanakh also on Tisha B’Av, so that people can watch inspiring lectures that are appropriate for this sad day. Modelling achdut (community unity), Herzog College is partnering with World Mizrachi for their Tisha B’Av lectures, and with Tanakh website 929 for their Daily Chapter of Tanakh program.

Among the speakers on the Yemei Iyun schedule during the last week of July will be several well-known lecturers from Israel who have spoken in communities across North America in previous years. Familiar names include Rabbi Menachem Leibtag, Dr. Yael Ziegler, Rav Yoni Grossman (speaking in Hebrew), and tour guide Shulie Mishkin. On the American team, you can hear Dr. Erica Brown, Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom, Rabbi Zvi Grumet and Rabbi Adam Mintz.  Their lectures will be broadcast online at accessible times for North American audiences to tune into, but you need to register to receive the links and source sheets.

Gitta is excited to share her Israeli adventure with friends stateside this year, and also to continue her partnership with Herzog College for the remote training of Jewish studies teachers working in New York schools. The first cohort of graduates from the Allegra Franco / Sephardic Rabbinical College Joint Program for Teacher Certification that she runs will complete their two-year training course this summer. They include teachers from the Yeshiva of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School, Brooklyn; the Sephardic Rabbinical College, Barkai Yeshivah, Brooklyn; Magen David Yeshivah, Brooklyn; Hillel Yeshiva School, Deal, NJ; and Yeshivat Noam, Paramus, NJ. These schools, and many others around the world, use Herzog College teaching resources, such as the HaTanakh.com website and Hayinu K’cholmim Tanakh learning app, to bring their lessons to life. They have been particularly useful for distance learning. The latest Herzog College venture is a weekly “Parsha Package” for grandparents to learn with their grandchildren on the phone or online.

Gitta loves and recommends all of these projects. “The stories in the Tanakh are so enthralling, and they can be understood at different levels by people of all ages. Reviewing them as adults with expert lecturers through the Yemei Iyun B’Tanakh allows us to discover hidden depths in these wonderful stories. Sharing them with our students and our own children and grandchildren gives us new ways to engage with our precious heritage, particularly in these difficult times.”

For more information about the Yemei Iyun B’Tanakh and other Herzog College programs in English, visit www.herzog.ac.il