The Longest Shiur: Yavneh Hebrew Academy Promotes Torah throughout the World
On Lag B’Omer, Yavneh Hebrew Academy hosted a unique event that served both educational and fundraising purposes. Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, Dean of Yavneh, gave “the longest shiur” – he taught Torah for 19 hours straight, beating his own record of 18 hours in 2015. The shiur was live-streamed through a Charidy campaign, raising half a million dollars in scholarship funds for Yavneh students.
“The main goal was to promote Torah,” says Rabbi Einhorn, adding that today, one aspect of promoting Torah is helping parents with tuition for Jewish schools. “Torah is more than its words or ideas,” explains Rabbi Einhorn. “Torah is what it represents to our people and our legacy.”
The number 19 was chosen because there are 19 books in the Tanach, and each hour was parallel to a book. A month before the campaign, Yavneh Hebrew Academy embarked on a study of the Tanach, engaging the students in fun educational activities. The school produced “Jewish hero cards” – a set of 19 colorful, beautifully illustrated cards. Each card represents a book from the Tanach and features a Jewish hero from that book. The students earned these cards with exemplary behavior and good middos. The cards generated a lot of excitement; children collected and traded the cards, trying to complete their sets.
Yavneh students also had the opportunity to listen to parts of the shiur that took place during school hours, in addition to the special Lag B’Omer program at school. In the last hour of the shiur, students joined Rabbi Einhorn and sang for the listeners.
The 19-hour shiur, where the topics switched every hour, began with the importance of Torah learning, and this theme was emphasized throughout the lectures. Among the topics were the mystery of time, great Jewish conspiracies, Daf Yomi, gun control, and the Book of Ruth. The program was interactive, with listeners sending in questions via email, and included appearances by special guests. For example, in the middle of the night, Rabbi Einhorn discussed haunted houses with a guest who works the graveyard shift. For his lecture on vaccinations in halachah, Rabbi Einhorn invited a doctor, Dr. Ronald Nagel, who brought the medical perspective on vaccinations to the shiur.
Another exciting part of the shiur was the “Torah roulette,” where a random page from a random sefer was chosen and studied. One of the random picks turned out to be from a 17th century esoteric mussar sefer. Another was from a sefer by Rav Yoel Schwartz, a contemporary writer who lives in Meah Shearim.
Rabbi Einhorn’s favorite lecture was held in the 18th hour. Entitled Entering the Garden: The Rebbe’s Life Changing Baati Legani Lectures, the lecture was an analysis of a Chassidic discourse “from a YU background,” says Rabbi Einhorn, who enjoys “bringing together different worlds” when it comes to Torah learning.
The longest shiur reached all over the world, with 30,000 people listening over the internet and 414 people donating to the campaign. The goal of $500,000 was reached right before the end of the 19 hours. All donations will be doubled by the matching sponsors.