Rabbi Ron-Ami Meyers, a leading live online Torah educator, is the founder of Talmid-Chaver. Talmid-Chaver is an innovative online program that gives aspiring students of Talmud the tools to independently tackle a classic “sugyah” of Talmud.
Why did you create Talmid-Chaver?
After graduating college at the age of 22, I made my way to Jerusalem to make up for lost time: Though I was raised in a traditional home, I lacked the skills necessary to understand classical Jewish texts, including Chumash and Talmud.
That year in Israel, 1983-84, and in the years that followed, I had my eyes opened by master educators, teachers who understood the need to explicitly teach the logic and underlying concepts of Gemara to motivated “late starters.”
Talmid-Chaver is the fusion of the effective skill-building method I acquired from my teachers with modern technology. In my over twenty-five years as a rabbi and Jewish educator, I’ve drawn one basic conclusion about high school Gemara study in North America:
I believe that students would often be better served with a curriculum of learning units drawn from a variety of tractates. Keeping the learning fresh has more of a chance of fostering a love of Torah study.
For many of our kids, spending a whole semester digging deeply into three folios of a particular “perek” of Gemara is simply not engaging. Some Jewish educators have responded by developing curricula which are unfortunately light on actual Gemara skill development.
Highly motivated adults face a different challenge: while synagogues and Kollels offer many shiurim, classes tend to be frontal, with a focus on content. But attendees are not necessarily any closer to knowing how to piece together a “sugyah” on their own.
I created Talmid-Chaver’s online, self-paced Gemara courses to help support high school teachers and their students and to encourage laymen to strive for more independence in their Talmud learning.
Someone who visits your site – what can they expect?
At present we offer fourteen courses, each featuring between eight and ten video classes. These text-based classes, averaging about twelve minutes in length, are built around classic “sugyot” in Gemara.
After each shiur, a student can take a self-grading multiple-choice quiz and vocabulary review. Anyone who logs on can access our free mini-course and previews of each of our courses.
Why did you choose this format for the Talmid-Chaver program?
In short, accessibility and affordability. Since the format is that of asynchronous courses, you learn at a time that’s personally convenient. The format also allows us to charge a low monthly or yearly subscription fee for access to all courses.
Anyone who registers is free to contact me by email with questions on the course material and can request an exam – that I will personally grade – at the conclusion of the course.
What was the hardest part of this journey? How did you overcome it?
I’m in the thick of it. My greatest challenge is getting the word out. Appreciative past students have shown interest and shared this option with friends and relatives.
They know how navigating the Gemara using this method has enabled their independence and takes the sweetness of learning to a new level.
What are your goals for the future?
We’ll be adding one course per month to our expanding library. As the program grows, I plan to continue to have a personal connection with our students.
Over the long term, I hope to network with educators and entrepreneurs to expand the text-based asynchronous course model to Mishna, Jewish Law, Tanach and Machshevet Yisrael.