Teaching Torah In A Web 2.0 World

This piece was first published as “From Broadcast to ‘G-dcast’” on The Arty Semite blog of The Forward.

Sarah Lefton, G-dcast co-creator

Where would you go to learn Torah, not only from famous rabbis like Lawrence Kushner, but also feminist rapper Hesta Prynn and legal pundit Dahlia Lithwick? It wouldn’t be to any synagogue, JCC or school. In fact, you wouldn’t even have to leave your home. G-dcast, created by Jewish educational entrepreneur Sarah Lefton and writer Matthue Roth, brings commentary on the weekly Torah portion by Jewish artists, writers and public personalities directly to your computer via animated short films streamed on the Internet.

G-dcast, supported by funders including ROI, Natan, Righteous Persons Foundation, UpStart and the Joshua Venture Fellowship, has recently released a DVD of all 55 of its Torah portion videos (“the offline version of the online hit”), accompanied by a book of creative lessons written by educator Emily Shapiro Katz. In addition, an iPad and iPod G-dcast app is in development.

Matthue Roth, G-dcast co-creator

In just a few short years, Lefton, a graduate of NYU’s Masters in Interactive Telecommunications Program, went from pondering the use of Internet technology, to exposing non-traditional Jews to Jewish learning, to having made 65 short films. Indeed, it was Lefton’s original idea to produce weekly Torah portion commentaries aimed at a young audience — the same people to whom she had been marketing t-shirts through her (now defunct) jewishfashionconspiracy.com business. Her plan to reach this demographic by distributing animated shorts via YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook (in addition to the G-dcast.com website itself) was successful beyond her expectations.

Click here to read more and view G-dcast’s latest video, this one about Purim.

© 2011 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

 

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