Sephardi rabbi of­fers quick take on key top­ics

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY - BY SANDY RASHTY

TRA­DI­TIONAL METH­ODS of Jewish learn­ing are not as pop­u­lar nowa­days. Peo­ple­lead­hec­ti­clivesand­lack­thetime, or­per­hap­s­thein­cli­na­tion,tospendtheir free hours at shi­urim or sem­i­nars.

That’s why Joseph Dweck, se­nior rabbi of the Span­ish and Por­tuguese Jews’ Con­gre­ga­tion in the UK, is plac­ing his faith in a se­ries of on­line videos offering quick­fire ex­pla­na­tions of key con­cepts in Ju­daism.

Per­spec­tives, be­inglaunched­nex­tweek, fea­turestwo-min­ute­clip­sof Rab­biDweck discussing is­sues in­clud­ing life, prayer, char­ity and God. “I wanted to keep the videos short be­cause of peo­ple’s at­ten­tion spans,” the min­is­ter ex­plains.

“Peo­ple have a lot of mis­un­der­stand­ings about Jewish ideas. They work on as­sump­tions. The dan­ger of not ex­plain­ing th­ese ideas is that peo­ple will con­tinue to pass [mis­un­der­stand­ings] on to their chil­dren.”

To make the videos ac­ces­si­ble and en­gag­ing, he col­lab­o­rated on the pro­gramme with young film-maker Adam Baroukh. “Peo­ple can watch the clips on their iPad on a com­mute,” Rabbi Dweck points out and are for all view­ers, “ir­re­spec­tive of ed­u­ca­tional back­ground and Jewish knowl­edge”.

But with sub­jects cov­ered in rapid time, Rabbi Dweck has avoided con­tro­ver­sial is­sues such as the role of women in Ju­daism, which “I would never ex­plore in a two-minute video. Th­ese are more like short def­i­ni­tions.”

As an ex­am­ple of the cho­sen top­ics, he says that “peo­ple ask me about prayer all the time. They think it’s about a clas­sic for­mula that has to be re­cited in a cer­tain way. But that’s not what prayer was orig­i­nally meant to be about. It’s not meant to be stress­ful.”

He adds: “Th­ese clips are meant to be tasters to prompt fur­ther ex­plo­ration. We are all busy but I do think it is im­por­tant to main­tain some level of con­nec­tion to Jewish life. So, if you’re not go­ing to a shiur, are you watch­ing YouTube?”

Mr Baroukh, 28, a Laud­erdale Road Syn­a­gogue mem­ber, says he “wanted the films to feel like an in­ti­mate chat with the rabbi, so we shot ev­ery­thing in his of­fice us­ing nat­u­ral light and a hand-held cam­era.

“Rab­biDweck­s­peakscle­arlyand­in­tu­itively on ques­tions that my friends and I have of­ten asked in a way that makes you want to know more. I wanted to doc­u­ment this to en­sure that oth­ers could also ben­e­fit.”

The mu­sic for Per­spec­tives was com­posed by 17-year-old Has­monean stu­dent Josh Daniel, who wanted to con­vey an in­spi­ra­tional theme for sub­jects such as prayer and a darker tone for is­sues like suf­fer­ing. “I tried to keep the mu­sic as min­i­mal­is­tic as pos­si­ble to keep the fo­cus on the speaker.”


Clock­wise from left: Rabbi Joseph Dweck, mu­sic man Josh Daniel and film-maker Adam Baroukh

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