Sometimes reality almost matches the hype. Case in point on the World Wide Web is the proliferation of sites intended to enhance Jewish education. Here’s a sampling. Parents and teachers should check out the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education (www.caje.org). CAJE’s attractive site doesn’t offer much free content, but it provides a handy way to order a wealth of Jewish educational materials aimed at kids. But you have to join CAJE to order from the packed “curriculum bank.”
The Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York site (www. bjeny.org) offers useful resources for educators, especially material dealing with Jewish holidays.
Looking for a good Jewish school? Stop by the Orthodox Union’s Torah Education Network (www.ou.org/education), which has links to a host of Jewish day schools,
colleges and other institutions.
Home schooling is a growing underground movement in the Jewish world, and parents who have chosen this route will find support and information at the appealing home page of Beit HaChatulim (www.Geocities.Com/Heartland/Hills/ 1259) — the work of Jewish parents who are home schooling their kids and want to share what they’ve learned.
The Bnos Henya Project site (BnosHenya.org/friends. html) features a “friendship network” to put parents in touch with other home schoolers.
For adults, an expanding wealth of educational materials is available, from individual lectures and monographs to complete on-line courses. A good source for the latter: the Jewish Theological Seminary’s “Learn Online” page (www.jtsa.edu/index.html). There are JTS-moderated e-mail discussion lists, special mini-lessons on Jewish topics and the organization’s Distance Learning Project, which offers an assortment of on-line courses.
Or try Bar-Ilan University’s “Virtual Jewish University” (www.bar-ilan.edu). Offerings include courses on the Dead Sea Scrolls and “War and Peace in the Bible.”
Bar-Ilan’s courses aren’t cheap — a “Jerusalem Through the Ages” class will set you back $360 for four credits — but they closely replicate what you would expect as a resident student, complete with “real-time professor-student interaction.” Check out the catalog and look at course demos at the site.
Project Genesis (www.torah.org), the pioneer in Jewish learning on the Web, is at the opposite end of the cost spectrum: its e-mail courses are free. Dozens of offerings with an Orthodox perspective are available for beginning, intermediate and advanced learners. These folks are real Internet pros, so service is good.
Judaism 101 (www.jewfaq.org) takes a different approach: Its home page, aimed at beginners, features the basics of Jewish learning in a breezy, conversational style.
Kolel (www.kolel.org/pages/lobby.html), the “Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning,” has a modest collection of learning materials from a progressive, egalitarian perspective, including a weekly “Torah Exploration” and a nice “ask the Reb” feature.
Do your own search for Jewish education resources by visiting the major Jewish portals: Maven, at www.maven. co.il, or the Internet outpost of AOL’s Jewish Community Online at www.Jewish.com. From the main index, work your way to the education links.