BOSTON & TEL AVIV, Israel--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and eTeacher Group announced a unique program that enables students throughout the world to participate in their joint Biblical Hebrew program, which teaches students to read the Bible in its original Language. Through the joint venture, Biblical Hebrew students learn in virtual classes conducted via live video conferencing from anywhere in the world. A certified instructor presents lesson materials via a fully-interactive multimedia application running on each student’s computer screen through which students can speak with the teacher and other class members. Course materials include a blend of classic and online content developed specifically for online learning.
“This ability to connect our world-class teachers of Biblical Hebrew with any person in any location is actually quite profound,” says Prof. Ruven Amitai, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “21st century technology gives our students this wonderful ability to study a language used more than 2000 years before electricity was even invented.”
The result, says Dr. Ohad Cohen, director of the online Biblical Hebrew program at the Hebrew University and eTeacher, is that “studying the Bible in any language other than Hebrew is like reading it through a veil of a translator’s whim, and of a Western mindset, and there is an increase of interest in reading the Bible directly and in its original language".
eTeacher co-CEO Boaz Binnun agrees, observing that enrollment in the program has significantly increased over the last year. “Our surveys shows that 95 percent of respondents are either not affiliated with an organized religion or have ties with various denominations of Christian-based entities. “It’s quite interesting that a course of study previously reserved mostly for serious scholars or rabbinical students within a university setting has gained strong momentum among everyday people,” Binnun says. “By closely mimicking the best possible learning style – face to face with university-level teachers in the classroom – this contemporary technology has eliminated longstanding barriers for students including money, age, time and geography.”
Josephine “Birdie” Cutair of Darlington, Maryland, has completed three Biblical Hebrew classes in three years with eTeacher. Birdie decided that she needed to know more about the Bible – particularly the Old Testament – as she was considering starting a Bible Study group. “There are layers and layers of learning in the Bible and the course was great because you could talk to the teacher and the teacher could talk to you. It wasn’t just listening to a lesson. It was very interactive.”
Echoing Birdie’s comments are Michael Burstein, a Massachusetts-based former professor of engineering and management at Yale and Dartmouth. A non-observant Jew for many years, Burstein met and married an orthodox Jewish woman a few years ago and started attending local services. “I felt as if my grandfather and father were all around me but I’m also a scientist and wanted to do some serious reading,” he said. After several eTeacher Biblical classes, Burstein says he wants to make the study of the Torah active and is now studying with several rabbis. I might even get bar mitzvahed,” the retired teacher said.
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