Herzog College’s Yemei Iyun B’Tanakh took place this year from Sunday July 16 – Wednesday, July 19 in Alon Shvut. Over 5,000 people attended the various events, including evening seminars in Jerusalem and Modi’in, and a special seminar in English for Jewish educators, with more watching from home around the world.
The July Tanakh Study Festival in Gush Etzion is in its 32nd year and drew bigger crowds than ever, despite the wealth of Tanakh material available today on every online platform, because of the shared excitement that it generates every year. This year’s program included 110 live lectures in Hebrew, 30 lectures in English, and five in French.
The speakers included internationally-renowned Bible scholars from Herzog College and Israel’s leading universities, teachers from Yeshivat Har Etzion, and visiting speakers from overseas, including Rabbi David Fohrman of Aleph Beta and Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter from Yeshiva University. Fifteen generous sponsors contributed to the cost of filming the lectures, so they could be livestreamed and uploaded for online viewing.
Five virtual video tours were recorded in English by top tour guides, with the Tanakh in their hands, following the pathways of the Avot – our forefathers – across Israel. Additional video material was created for watching on Tisha B’Av, reflecting on the experience of pilgrims visiting the Temple and the archeological record of its destruction, and considering why we still need to fast on Tisha B’Av following the creation of the State of Israel.
This year, evening Tanakh study programs were offered for the benefit of those who could not take time off work to attend the daytime conference. Large audiences came to Hechal Shlomo in Jerusalem and Kehillat Darchei Tzion in Modi’in to hear their choice of celebrity lecturers in Hebrew and English.
Rabbi Dr. Shalom Berger, who runs the English-language program at the Yemei Iyun, explained: “Even with the wealth of Tanakh material available today on every online platform, people attend these in-person events every year because of the shared excitement that they generate.” One of the lecturers at the event, Dr. Yosefa Fogel Wruble, described the experience as akin to Matan Torah – the gathering of thousands of Jews at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah!