How to make Shavuos All-Night Learning Come to Life

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Rabbi Einhorn’s SynaBlog is a new innovative blog that shares tips, tactics, strategies and best practices that enable Shul growth and promote Shul vitality.

For many communities, Shavuos night serves as a great opportunity to offer some serious Torah and draw a nice size crowd. We have heard of Shuls that do a midnight BBQ and an end of the evening Omelet Bar, but how do we offer up our Torah content in a way that commands attention and maximizes a pedagogical moment.

Idea #1 – Moshiach

The may be no greater topic to keep men and women up all night than the mysterious and elusive subject of Moshiach. It can be a class on “Who is eligible to be the Moshiach”, or “How is ‘Days of Moshiach’ different than ‘Olam Habaah’?, or “Will life be different with the Moshiach?”. Threading one theme throughout the night creates a cohesive feeling to the program and enables participants walk away with a nice hefty subject in their pocket. ‘Moshiach’ is just one example, but there are numerous other topics that lend itself well to a engaging evening.

Idea #2 –  Unsolved Mysteries

I saw this program run successfully by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of the Boca Raton Synagogue. There are numerous hot button subjects such as the “Shape of the Luchos” or “Where is Noah’s Ark”, etc that have notoriously left off in a quagmire. The truth is that we love mystery, so why not embrace it? Once you go down this road there is no end to the class selections. I tried pushing the envelope on this one with a class on the Bermuda Triangle, Alien Life, and Werewolves.

Idea #3 – A Night of Machlokes (Disagreements)

Invite local speakers for high level and engaging dialogue and debate. Every year in my own community I try to debate at least one speaker per Shavuos night. Great topics for debate could be “Hallel on Yom Ha’atzmaut” or “Abortion” or “Going to the Bar Mitzvah of a Reform Cousin”.

Idea #4 – Simulated Conversations

This year I plan on doing a night of simulated conversations. Meaning: imagine if two gedolim, who never had a chance to have a conversation, sat down to hash things out. I will be playing both sides of the dialogue. Satmar Rav and Rav Kook, Rav Goren and Rav Eliyashiv, Rav Shach and The Lubavitcher Rebbe, etc.

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Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn is a Musmach of Yeshiva University. He has served as the founder of WINGS a Synagogue Consulting group. Prior to moving to Los Angeles, Rabbi Einhorn was the Rabbi of Manhattan’s West Side Institutional Synagogue where he helped grow the membership by 70% over 4 years. Currently, he is the Rav and Dean of Yeshivat Yavneh.