OU Women’s Initiative launches Nach Yomi program, ‘Torah Imecha’

OU Women’s Initiative launches Nach Yomi program, ‘Torah Imecha’

Rachel Besser, left, Shira Schiowitz, and Dr. Adina Shmidman
Rachel Besser, left, Shira Schiowitz, and Dr. Adina Shmidman

You’ve heard of Daf Yomi, the worldwide page-a-day Talmud study regimen. About 95,000 people attended the January 1 mega-event at MetLife Stadium to celebrate the completion of another seven-and-a-half-year cycle of learning all 2,711 pages of the Babylonian Talmud.

For several years, the Orthodox Union has offered a daily regimen for Bible study as well. It’s called Nach Yomi. “Nach” is the Hebrew acronym for Nevi’im and Ketuvim — Prophets and Writings — the second two-thirds of the Jewish biblical canon known as Tanach. (The T’s for Torah.) The learning cycle for the 742 Nach chapters is two years.

Based on that program’s popularity, on January 9 the OU Women’s Initiative launched a new Nach Yomi program consisting of daily podcast lessons on the chapter of the day presented by female scholars. An introductory video for each book in Nach is given by Rabbanit Shani Taragin of Israel.

The program is dubbed “Torat Imecha,” or “the teaching of your mother,” a phrase taken from Proverbs 1:8: “Hear, my son, the instruction of your father and do not abandon the teaching of your mother.”

“We are creating Nach Yomi content by women to engage and inspire the community in a powerful way,” the OU Women’s Initiative’s founding director, Rebbetzin Dr. Adina Shmidman, said.

She reported that in the first 48 hours after the program was announced through an ad campaign, 1,000 people from several countries already had signed up. Some of the participants — mostly women and also a few men — live in such unexpected places as Germany, Hong Kong, Nebraska, and Kansas.

Among the 20 teachers so far preparing podcasts for the program are five noted Torah educators from northern New Jersey: Rachel Besser, chair of the Nach department at the Frisch School in Paramus; Shira Schiowitz, rebbetzin of Congregation Shaare Tefillah in Teaneck; Peshi Neuburger, rebbetzin of Congregation Beth Abraham in Bergenfield; Marcy Stern of Passaic, formerly principal of Bruriah High School in Elizabeth; and Rebecca Belizon, rebbetzin of the Young Israel of Fair Lawn.

(Fun fact: Ms. Besser and Ms. Schiowitz are the daughters of Rabbi Menachem Genack, spiritual leader of Congregation Shomrei Emunah of Englewood and head of the OU’s Kosher Division.)

Ms. Belizon said she will be teaching lessons on the book of Judges — Shoftim, in Hebrew. She noted a saying of the Jewish sages that “Nevuah shehutzricha l’dorot nichteva” — “Prophecy that is necessary for future generations is written down.”

“I look forward to highlighting important and relevant messages from the times of the Shoftim,” she said. “I feel privileged to be involved in such a wonderful initiative. Torat Imecha provides women so many points of connection,” revolving around not only the biblical tradition and text but also around interpersonal relationships.

“It connects and unifies women from around the world who are looking to learn and grow,” Ms. Belizon said.

Ms. Shmidman said that the lessons are geared to people at all levels of familiarity with the Bible. The text is presented in Hebrew and in English. “We’re trying to make it as welcoming as we can for as broad a tent of learners as possible,” she said.

Torat Imecha fills a demand for woman-to-woman learning, she continued. “There was a definite interest in creating Nach Yomi materials by women with a relatability factor — someone who can be a role model for other women.

“We went from school to school speaking with administrators, with women running programs on high school and college levels in the United States and Israel and London, trying to find out who are the expert teachers and good communicators, able to relate to listeners. It is important that you feel the speaker is speaking to you.”

The podcast format, she added, “is an exciting opportunity to capitalize on technology to create a global community. This is building on an existing Nach Yomi program at the OU and we’re hopeful it will be popular with the community.”

Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane commented, “Torat Imecha is another terrific program from our Women’s Initiative. When OU Torah Initiatives started the Nach Yomi cycle two years ago, there was a desire from the community to have Nach presented by women. We’re excited to offer this program as the new cycle begins.”

To subscribe to the daily Torat Imecha Shiur and to access more content, go to www.ou.org/women/torat-imecha-sign-up.

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