OU Community Services and Project Sinai.org Offer Online, Interactive Classes

20 Mar 2009

The Orthodox Union’s Department of Community Services, in association with Project Sinai.org, have begun a series of free, live online interactive events with some of the most well-known names on the Jewish learning circuit. Somewhat of a hybrid between a seminar and a one-on-one chat, the events allow participants to ask the presenters questions and receive answers on the spot. Polls, quizzes and chatting with other participants are also all part of the experience.

The first class begins Sunday, March 23, 1:00 pm, and features Professor Lawrence Keleman, author and director of the International Organization of Mussar Vaadim, a network of Torah-based self-development groups across North America and Israel. Professor Keleman will present on “Extreme Parenting Makeover.” Classes will be ongoing, and are so far planned through April 1. The range in length from 45 minutes to an hour.

Professor Keleman; Lori Palatnik, author and Jewish educator who has appeared on television and radio; Dr. David Pelcovitz, Professor, Psychology and Jewish Education at Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration; and Judith Leventhal, co-author of the best-selling Small Miracles series, are among the group of scheduled speakers. Topics include: “How to Survive Our Adolescent Children”; “How to be Married to a Man”; “How to Know If This is the One You Should Marry”; “Finding your Own Small Miracle”; and “Managing Stress.” The site also hosts a daily daf yomi by Rabbi Shalom Rosner.

While the site’s content appeals to a broad range of tastes and interests, all visitors share an appreciation for the convenience of learning from home. “This will not replace people getting together in the same room, but offers our educators the chance to reach communities throughout the world,” declared Frank Buchweitz, National Director of Community Services and Special Projects.

“It’s amazing how I can get instantaneous feedback from the audience,” says Lori Palatnik, one of the presenters. In an event about marriage and relationships, visitors are asked what percentage of married couples are happy. “I was shocked by their very cynical answers,” she continued. In Ms. Palatnik’s upcoming event about dating and how to find the right one, participants will be asked to fill out a short questionnaire to help them clarify what they are looking for in a partner.

While the format of the sessions varies, participants can interact via a chat box below the video or, if they have a webcam, they can choose to interact on video as well. In some programs, participants can ask live questions via audio. Similar to an auditorium setting, a moderator can pass the microphone between members of the audience.

ProjectSinai.org has yet to begin marketing the site but there are already thousands of people from all over the world who have signed up.

To register and view the online series of events, visit ou.projectsinai.org.