I’m proud and grateful to invite the Wexner community — and those in your communities — to explore Hadar’s new website: www.mechonhadar.org.
This isn’t another brochure site: its heart is a pair of databases of durable, high-quality content. The site’s most ambitious and distinctive feature is a new tool for prayer-leaders, from beginner to experienced. At a glance, users can stream or download the standard (Ashkenazi) nusach for a prayer, communal melodies that have been written for it and melodies native to other parts of the service that work well here. And for power users — you can search melodies by their musical properties: need a fast, 4/4, minor melody for Adon Olam this Shabbat? You’ll get 35 options. The recordings are high-quality and diverse, and we’re adding more every month.
The new site’s other standout feature is its consolidation and organization of hundreds of courses in connected audio, video and text formats — navigable by questions you care about (“Israel and Diaspora”, “Hesed and Tzedakah”), not just by genre of Jewish literature. WGFA Rabbi Shai Held’s (Class 7) D’var Torah last week about Rebecca’s empathy and courage is about Hesed, and it’s also about Parashat Chayyei Sarah — so where would you find it? Where it belongs — in both places.
I haven’t yet written a book, and it’s unlikely that I’ll ever direct a movie. For now, I can point to this website as the most significant contribution I’ve made to Jewish thinking and living — a contribution (and a mode of leadership) less about my own voice than about using the blessings of technology to craft a framework where we encounter the voices of Torah and tefillah in new ways — and in so doing find our own voices as Jews in creative and life-giving ways.
Let me know how you use it.
And even more important — we’ve licensed almost all the content on the site to be shared, so I mean it when I say that I want to know how our organizations can collaborate going forward on this kind of work to maximize our shared impact.
Rabbi Jason Rubenstein is Dean of Students at Yeshivat Hadar, where he also teaches Talmud and Jewish thought. Jason was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in May of 2011 and also holds an MA in Talmud from JTS and a BA from Harvard College. An alumnus of the kollel of Yeshivat Ma’ale Gilboa, the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, the Legacy Heritage Rabbinic Fellows program at JTS, and the Graduate Fellowship in Jewish Law and Legal Theory of the Cardozo Center for Jewish Law, Jason has also led multiple programs for the Nesiya Institute. Most recently, Jason was featured by Tablet Magazine as one of the “15 American Rabbis You Haven’t Heard Of, But Should.” Rabbi Rubinstein can be reached for additional comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.