November 26, 2013, New York, NY – The Union for Reform Judaism's (URJ) Ten Minutes of Torah reached a ten-year milestone this week. This email, sent Monday through Friday, is one of the most successful and innovative distance learning initiatives in the Jewish world. In 2003, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, then URJ president launched Ten Minutes of Torah at the URJ Biennial convention in Minneapolis.
"Desperate to keep up, insecure about what we don't know, we find time to stuff information of every kind into our heads. If we make time to answer our cell phones a dozen times a day and to check our email five times an hour, surely we can find 10 minutes to contemplate sacred words that nourish the soul," said Yoffie, who proclaimed that Reform Jews must study Torah on a regular basis and that even 10 minutes of study each day could transform lives.
Ten years later, each day more than 20,000 subscribers receive an email that brings the Jewish world to them. From Torah commentaries written by scholars to recipes for baking challah, Ten Minutes of Torah explores the great variety of Jewish life. Over the years, subscribers have studied the history of Jews in America, the lives of Jews in Israel, Mishnah, Jewish ethics, Hebrew, the weekly Torah portion and prayer (t'filah).
"Ten Minutes of Torah is a pioneer in reaching Jewish audiences electronically and may be the most successful adult education endeavor in the Jewish world today," said Rabbi Victor Appell URJ's congregational marketing director, who manages the Ten Minutes of Torah initiative, "few programs have reached as many people."
Through its editions, subscribers have learned by email from more than 500 of the top luminaries in Reform Jewish life. Ten Minutes of Torah has also spawned associate projects, such as audio Torah commentaries and educational webinars. Hundreds of congregations and educational programs have used Ten Minutes of Torah materials as the basis for their own adult education and Torah study programs.
The URJ will celebrate this milestone anniversary at the URJ Biennial convention in San Diego, CA, on Friday morning, December 13, with a special interactive Torah study session for the nearly 5,000 delegates in attendance. Torah text and commentary from Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff, Vice President for Special Projects at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and; Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Emanu-El, Westfield, NJ, will be posted on the large screens for all to see. Delegates will then break into small discussion groups to delve deeper into the meaning of the weekly Torah portion.
"What better way to commemorate Ten Minutes of Torah than by participating in a large-scale Torah study at the Biennial?" said Appell.
In 2014, there will be a weekly Ten Minutes of Torah edition devoted to youth and the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of NFTY, the Reform Jewish youth movement. There will also be a weekly email dedicated to Jewish arts and culture.
Anyone who is interested, may sign up to receive Ten Minutes of Torah.