Rabbi Akiva Goodman of Chicago, IL, combined modern technology and behavioral economics to encourage more anash to join the community-wide learning.
By Anash.org reporter
Every year on Yud Tes Kislev, Lubavitchers around the world participate in the customary chalukas hashas. Members of a community take upon themselves to learn a particular portion, with the goal of completing the entire gemara as a team.
Four years ago, Rabbi Akiva Goodman of Chicago, IL saw an opportunity to revolutionize the yearly division and learning of the gemara by incorporating technologies he used for business.
Working together with his chavrusa, Zev Shkolnikov, he developed an online sign up system with a large screen in the the lobby of Congregation Bnei Reuven, where each participant’s progress is displayed.
“The screen in shul tells us where everyone’s holding, and it encourages people to learn by giving them a weekly reminder of their commitment,” said Rabbi Moshe Markowitz. “We’ve also started to hold a siyum hashas each year.”
This year’s event was held on the Motzei Shabbos preceding 24 Teves and included a siyum made by Rabbi Menachem Posner followed by a melave malka and farbrengen.
Following Rabbi Boruch Hertz‘s welcoming remarks and the siyum, participants enjoyed a keynote address given by Rabbi Eli Silberstein, shliach to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.