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October 9, 2015 | 26th Tishrei 5776

Exploring the Jewish Internet: A Derech Torah Module

By Marcia Goldstein, RJE


By the end of this lesson you will have:

1. Become familiar with Shamash: The Jewish Internet Consortium and other major Jewish networks.
2. Used various search engines to discover Jewish sites available on the Internet.
3. Bookmarked numerous sites.


Let’s begin! (NOTE: If you have trouble accessing these sites go to and type in the site you wish to locate in the search box.)

Shamash, developed by the Board of Jewish Education of New York, is the “big daddy” of the Jewish Internet. You’ll find a clickable table of contents with every conceivable Jewish topic. Michael Levin in The Guide to the Jewish Internet says, “Visiting the Jewish Internet without going to Shamash is like visiting Israel and skipping Jerusalem.”

1. Shamash is where you should start.  After finding the Shamash home page, bookmark it. Then click on:

a) Search
How many times has the page been viewed since January 1, 1997?
Now use the Excite web browser. Choose any Jewish topic you want to explore.
I explored the topic: _________________________________
OK, now look into at least 2 articles/sites listed about your topic. You may print them and put them in this folder.

b) Jewish Resources on the Internet
Scroll through this intense list of resources. Explore at least 2 that sound interesting to you. List the 2 you explored.

2. Another way to explore Jewish topics is to go to a site with tons of Jewish links. Bookmark each of these sites after you visit them:

a) Judaism on the Web (type the words) Judaism on the Web in the Google search to find sites. The words do you mean Judaism on the Web will appear, click on that link and it will take you to many Jewish links. (Judaism on the Web is also available as a book. They’ve put the book on the Web and hyperlinked at least 90% of the sites they list!)

site bookmarked yes____ no____

b) Maven

site bookmarked yes____ no____

c) Jewish Community Network

site bookmarked yes____ no____

d) Jewish Family and Life

site bookmarked yes____ no____

3. Now two general search engines. (It’s a good idea to bookmark each of these!) In each, explore areas of interest, seeing what is available.

a) Yahoo
From the homepage click on “Society & Culture,” then on religion -- type in Judaism

site bookmarked yes____ no____

b) Web Crawler
At the home page type in “Judaism” -- they have 2,144 entries on that topic. Explore, explore, explore!

site bookmarked yes____ no____

4. If you’re on America On Line try this: Choose “Keyword” from the “go to” menu then type “Jewish” and press Return/Enter. A wealth of Jewish information and areas!

For those on CompuServe, choose “Go” in the service menu and type in “Israel” and/or “Jewish.”

5. Of the many networks and search engines you visited in this lesson, which ones did you like best?

Put a number (1-6) ranking these sites:

_____ Jewish Community Network

_____ Judaism on the Web

_____ Maven

_____ Shamash

_____ Web Crawler

_____ Yahoo

Why did you choose the site you ranked as 1st?


By the end of this lesson you will have:

1. Become familiar with the main sites representing Reform Judaism.
2. Located and looked at Web sites of other congregations.


1. Each of the major Jewish movements has a Web site. Let’s begin with our own, the Reform Movement. Open the home page for the Union for Reform Judaism.

Now link to at least two of the following:

  • What is Reform Judaism?
  • What’s new in the Reform Web
  • Ask the Rabbi (leave a question to be answered)

For each link, list at least two things you learned that you didn’t know before.

2. Click on “Congregations” under the directory section. Open one of the 739 congregational home pages. Are there things you think should be on this page that aren’t? List them below.

3. Suppose you are an adult and you just found out that you will be moving your family (2 children and a spouse) to New York City. Find the web sites of at least 3 Reform congregations in this city. Based on what you learn from the Web sites, which congregation do you think might be best for your family. Why?


By the end of this lesson you will have:

1. Chosen areas of interest to investigate.
2. Use a search engine to find appropriate sites within these chosen areas.
3. Completed research on the chosen topics.


Choose at least 3 of the 6 areas below. Bookmark areas you find especially interesting. Follow the instructions given with each.

1. Holidays, holidays and more holidays!

The internet is a wonderful place to learn about Jewish holidays -- their history, meaning and celebrations. Using Yahoo!, Web Crawler, or other major search engines (go back to Lesson 2 for suggestions) find as much as you can about one or more of these holidays:

Rosh Hashanah
Yom Kippur
Passover (Pesach)

Print at least 3 articles about the holidays you choose. Use a highlighter (or pen) to note any information you didn’t know before reading the articles.

2. Food -- Jewish Style

Wherever Jews are, food is a major topic. There are many sites that provide interesting information about keeping kosher.
Start with:

Cuisine, Laws and Traditions --
As the title says, the laws and traditions of Jewish food are featured here. Philip Goldwasser has included many recipes. Print some out to try for Shabbat or a holiday celebration.

3. Being Jewish in College

Hillel is a presence on most college campuses, offering a center of Judaism including holiday and Shabbat services, social programs and educational opportunities. The Hillel site not only explains the organization but also lets you know which campuses have a Hillel House (and therefore a Jewish population). Then go to Local Hillels. The Guide to Jewish life on Campus should appear – type in your state in the U.S. Search box - a list of schools should come up.

Which schools have a Hillel? List at least 3 schools with a Hillel, the Jewish enrollment at these schools and any Jewish programs they have. Is there one specific school which surprised you that it even had a Hillel?

4. Jewish Belonging

Jews are great belongers, with most Jews belonging to a Jewish organization in addition to a synagogue. Open and read at least 3 of the following:

American-Israel Political Action Committee
B?nai Brith
World Zionist Organization
Anti-Defamation League

Which organization(s) would you consider joining as an adult? Why?

5. Jewish Study

Jews are often called “the people of the Book,” which is fitting because studying and learning are an integral part of living Judaism. Visit the URJ website and click on Learning or go back to the Shamash home page at and click on “Tanach.”

As you mature in Jewish learning, you may have the opportunity to present a d'var Torah for the portion or parashah for that given week. The following Web site can help you in your preparation for that honor.

Of course, you can always skip all the commentary and go to “Ask the Rabbi: Answers to Jewish Questions
You can search the FAQ’s or submit a question to be answered.

What new piece of Jewish information did you learn?

Now that we are in the learning mode, take a look at:

Did you gain any new Biblical insights?

6. Making a difference in the World

Go to the “Search” area of the Shamash homepage (you should have bookmarked it in Lesson 1). Type in Tikkun Olam (To Repair the World) or Social Action. Investigate at least 5 links. What is the most interesting site you found?

7. Proud to be Jewish

Jews have always made an impact on the world. Learn about at least 3 famous Jews by visiting and typing in famous Jewish people and International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. List the 3 people you learned about and something interesting about each one.

Person 1

Person 2

Person 3

8. Halls of Jewish History

For a fascinating look at American Jewish history, visit the site maintained by the National Museum of American Jewish History


By the end of this lesson you will have:

1. Taken a cyberspace trip to some Jewish sites in the U.S. and throughout the world.
2. Visited Israel by planning a trip based on information gleaned from Internet sites.
3. Learned about teen trips to Israel.


Jewish travel is a great way to connect with Klal Yisrael. You’ve already done some traveling in Lesson 2 when you located web sites of Congregations in other cities. In this lesson you’ll travel the world.


Mazel Tov! You just won a 2 week paid vacation to anyplace in the world that has significant Jewish interest. A new internet site is a good place to start. Look at:
Jewish Travel: Meaningful Vacations

1. Choose at least 3 cities to visit on your vacation.

2. Now see what you can learn about each city. What Jewish sites would you visit in each?

3. Since you’d like to attend Shabbat services on your vacation, go to the World Synagogue Directory -

Are there congregations listed in each city you want to visit?


1. Start by visiting some US museums of Jewish interest. Visit the web pages of at least 2 of the following:

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Semitic Museum at Harvard University 
The Jewish Museum, New York
Lower East side Tenement Museum, New York
Ellis Island, New York

Which of these museums would you like to visit in person? Why?


Now get out your virtual passport and plan a trip to Israel! Note on the next pages places you want to visit, things you want to do.

1. Start with: Israeli Ministry of Tourism

Almost everything you want to know about traveling in Israel is on this site. Click on Virtual Tour. Then investigate the regions of Israel by clicking on each picture. Now choose at least 5 cities to visit. List them below:






Explore the picture gallery and enjoy the 5 areas listed. Which site looked most inviting to you and why?

2. Since you’re planning on visiting Jerusalem go to and type in Jerusalem. Select Frommer’s Jerusalem, Israel, then explore the Frommer's Guide.

3. Israel is full of “must see” places. Visitthese Web sites:

a. The Western Wall (also called the Kotel or Wailing Wall). To actually view the wall live visit the Virtual Jerusalem site. Go to and type in wailing wall.

b. Dig Israel by joining archeologists through
List the sights you visited.

What did you learn?

c. The Chagall Windows, Hadassah Hospital Jerusalem
Which window do you like best? Why

d. Yad Vashem, Jerusalem (The Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority)
Which specific articles interested you?

Why is it important to have a museum like Yad Vashem?

e. The Israel Museum Jerusalem (which maintains the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit)
What area of the museum interests you the most?

4. Excited about your cyber visit to Israel? Now see what trips are available for teens at:
Teen Israel Experience

Which trip sounds the most exciting? Why?

5. Time to pack - but don’t forget your money! In the US we use dollars but in Israel they use shekels. Suppose you are planning on taking $1,000. To convert your dollars into shekels, visit: the yahoo currency converter

$1,000 = ______________shekels as of (today's date)_________________


By the end of this lesson you will have:

1. Reviewed previous lessons.
2. Identified special sites to share.


Now it’s time to go through what you’ve found.

1. Find at least 5 sites you especially enjoyed visiting. List the site, site address and a little about each below.

2. What did you learn? List at least 10 things you learned.



Global “network of networks” that connects more than 3 million computers. The Internet is the virtual “space” in which users send and receive e-mail, login to remote computers (telnet), browse databases of information (gopher, World Wide Web, WAIS), and send and receive files (ftp).


To mark a site for easy access at a later date. Each Internet browser has its own way to accomplish this task.


To transfer files from one computer to another. When the file is coming to your computer, you’re downloading it. When it’s moving from your computer to someone else’s, you’re uploading it.


Stands for electronic mail. A system by which people send and receive messages using their computers over a network (such as the Internet).


Stands for Frequently Asked Questions. A document about a given topic in a question/answer form.


Stands for File Transfer Protocol. A method by which files are transferred over the Internet.


Stands for “Hyper-Text Media Language.” It’s a simple programming language used in creating Web pages.


A system by which users can jump from site to site around the Internet by means of hyperlinks. Using these links, a user can hop around the Internet connecting to a variety of sites around a topic of interest. The World Wide Web is the Internet’s best example of a hypertext based system.


When you have a connection to another computer, you are said to be online.

search engine

Internet areas used to help locate specific areas of the Internet. Excite, Yahoo and Webcrawler are all search engines.

World Wide Web (www)

A system of navigating the Internet via pre-established links. The Web operates on a series of Home Pages set up by academic, governmental and commercial entities, and individuals around the world. These pages include links to other Internet sites and resources.

References Used:
Student’s Guide to the Internet , David Clark, Alpha Books, 1995.
Integrating the Internet Into Your Curriculum Resource Guide , Classroom Connect, 1996.

Written by Marcia Goldstein, RJE
Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation
Revised 6/2003

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