The Covenant Grants

A Rabbinics Lab and Online Bet-Midrash

Organization: Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston, Newton, MA

Grant Year: 1997

Project Director: Mr. Jeffrey Spitzer

Type of Grant: Signature

Grant Amount: $150,000 (3 years)


Informal Education

To support the creation of a Rabbinics Lab, which would allow students to converse electronically with rabbis and rabbinic tradition.

The lab is equipped with seven networked computers and a server, plus software and a library of printed material that spans the full range of Rabbinic literature (Talmud, Bible commentary, Midrash, Siddur, Halakhah). Working in hevrutot (small study groups), students research a topic and then produce their own texts and commentaries. Students are also matched with Rabbis and Rabbinical students throughout the country who assist them in their research and engage them in online conversations on topics in Rabbinic literature chosen by students.

The “RabLab” succeeded in its core goal of engaging students in studying Rabbinic literature and empowering them to create their own commentaries and interpretations. Students learned to use a multilingual word processor, search through databases of Rabbinic literature, and use Web-based resources to access Rabbinic literature. Working in small groups of 2-3 students, they used the results of their research and their knowledge of Torah to produce pages of new Cyber-Torah on specific topics.