‘Bright lights, shavuos night’ turns participants into lecturers for at home learning

NEW YORK – NCSY has launched an ambitious effort to virtually educate and empower teens and parents around the world in advance of the holiday of Shavuos. The program launched last week with the goal of preparing thousands of Jews worldwide in advance of the holiday, by creating online courses for this week which will prepare them to share that learning with their families during the Shavuos holiday likely celebrated at home this year.

The holiday of Shavuos, normally celebrated with all-night learning in synagogues on its first night, will be celebrated from sundown, May 28th through May 30th. Similar to other Jewish holidays, its typical celebration includes large gatherings for prayers and meals with friends and family. Most communities also celebrate with widely attended learning programs like lectures and small group or paired learning in bustling study halls.

This year, due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is highly unlikely that most communities will have returned to their synagogues before Shavuos begins and even less likely that they will be able to return to the large-scale learning programs they previously experienced.

In order to provide families with a taste of the learning they would normally experience over the holiday, NCSY and Orthodox Union educators put together close to 54 unique seminars focusing on different Torah lessons aimed at preparing participants to teach those ideas to their family members with whom they will be celebrating the holiday at home this year. The seminars are being held through 60-minute Zoom sessions and are capped at 20 participants each to allow for more intimate classes. For information on the educators and topics, please visit https://ncsy.org/shavuoslights/.

“A key component of Shavuos is the all-night learning which takes place in hundreds of Jewish communities around the world. This year will be different as many of our synagogues will still be closed,” said Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane. “NCSY’s ‘Bright Lights, Shavuos Night’ program will help teens and their parents create that same environment in the safety of their homes. Educators will teach before the holiday begins as well as provide the necessary tools for these teens and their parents to then relay the lessons during the holiday.”

“Part of the NCSY experience for teens has always been the leadership training. With Shavuos this year being celebrated at home without the classes and packed learning halls, NCSY is calling upon and training its teens and parents to be the source of Torah learning and beacons of inspiration for those with whom they will be celebrating,” added Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Allen Fagin.

“’Bright Lights, Shavuos Night’ draws teaching talent from our remarkable staff with the goal of empowering hundreds of NCSYers and their families in advance of the holiday,” said NCSY Managing Director Rabbi Moshe Benovitz. “We hope the program creates groundswell of Torah learning on Shavuos night, despite the inevitability that the vast majority of Orthodox Jews worldwide will go into the holiday without infrastructure and programming we normally take for granted.”