Sunday, 9 February 2014

What's available for distant Jews and other interested people?

From Woomargarma NSW

Is there a way that “remote” interested parties can participate in any of the “educational” type programs?  We live over 3.5 hours from Melbourne and thus “tripping” to the big city is out of the question.  Are any of the presentations taped/recorded and can be distributed.  Skype may be difficult given speed of wireless, but I can check if such an option was available.

Thank you so much for your enquiry.

I think the basic answer to your question is 'not really and not consistently - yet'.

However there are various things to say in more detail.

First, I supervise the 'On-line Introduction to Judaism course' which allows students across our region to study a fairly comprehensive course about Judaism - and where Progressive Judaism differs, and is very suitable both for those with a  Jewish background who are looking for such information, and for interested non-Jews who might or might not be interested in becoming Jewish in due course.

The two core texts for the course are both available both as books and e-books: Rabbi Dosick's 'Living Judaism' and a book by Rabbi Pete Tobias which I have revised for our region, entitled 'A Judaism for the Twenty-First Century'.  

In addition, our Prayer book, Mishkan T'filah World Union Edition' is a valuable prayer and study text for any Progressive Jewish home.

They can all be obtained from

The on-line course basically uses the internet to communicate with, and submit work to, the allocated tutor, and to download and view supplementary materials etc.

We consider that simply filming spoken lectures is not usually a satisfying nor educationally effective exercise.  However there area  range of powerpoint presentations available as part of the on-line course supplementary material, and these are added to from time to time.

During Limmud 2012 Jewish Australia Internet Radio recorded various lectures and these were available as podcasts - as far as I can see they are no longer on their site but certainly you should be aware that has a growing grid of Jewish pogramming and music (which of course you can access), and will shortly include the 'Progressive Perspective' weekly radio show including our Melbourne Rabbis and various visitors from other states and overseas.

Cantor Michel Laloum has various 'illustrated lectures', some of which were recorded by Limmud and which he may have available, so I am including him on this response.

The Leo Baeck Centre has the facility for live streaming (and seeing on podcast) our regular services as well as occasional lectures, and the next one should be Mark Dreyfus MP giving the annual Leo Baeck Lecture at 7.30 on the evening of 30th March and thereafter.  I understand that Temple Beth Israel and other communities are currently exploring similar possibilities.

The Centre for Living Judaism has a wonderful website at full of useful resources and information.

We also have a colleague who specialises in on-line seminars and learning.  Her name is Rabbi Sheryl Nosan-Lantzke and you can contact her at rabbisheryl(at)

You can see, therefore that things are beginning to develop.  I was at a day conference just yesterday, in part about 'virtual community' and how to connect and support 'far-flung Jews' who are not within easy reach of conventional congregations, and I am certain that this is an area in which provision will accelerate.

Having said all this, there is a practical reality - it all costs money - and if we found someone to make a substantial (tax deductible) contribution, it would move things forward all the sooner!

I hope this is of use, and invite you to contact me if I can be of further assistance.


Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black - rabbi(at)

No comments:

Post a Comment