Sefaria’s Impact – Reflections and Insights from Users
Sefaria literally has changed my life - no exaggeration. I am not a trained educator, just a mom of four who enjoys learning through whatever means I can, as well as teaching when given the opportunities... Sefaria makes me feel like I am part of a community of learners, and when I am inspired by the source sheets of others I feel like I am connecting to like minded souls. Without Sefaria, I would feel lost. Taking on teaching projects would feel too daunting. Sefaria was the transformation that I didn't even know I needed until I suddenly cannot live without it.
I use Sefaria with my Hebrew students of all ages. I don’t want to teach without it.
Sefaria opened a whole world for me. I grew up in Ukraine and never had a Jewish education. For many years, I heard about Talmud, Books of Prophets, Writings but did not know what they were about. Now that they are accessible through Sefaria, the world of wisdom has opened to me. My next goal is to learn Hebrew to read these texts in the original. Thank you Sefaria for what you do.
I am a middle school Tanach teacher and every year Sefaria is an invaluable tool for me inside and outside of the classroom. This year however, I decided it was just as important that my students learn how to use Sefaria and access it's texts and commentaries. It's been amazing! They're able to work so much more independently, looking for commentators, tracking down a more obscure source, etc. It's become such an important tool in my curriculum! Thanks Sefaria!
Three times each week I use Sefaria to study with my grandchildren. I live in Denver, CO. On Sunday, I study the Mussar text Orchot Tzaddikim with a grandson in London, England. On Thursday morning, I study Pirke Avot with a grandson in Ranana, Israel, and on Thursday afternoon, I study Masechet Magillah with a grandson in Gush Etzion, Israel. Whatsapp and Sefaria are as essential tools to promoting Torah learning as Xerox was 50 years ago.
I don't know where I would be without Sefaria! I was raised a secular Jew and have recently begun exploring my roots. Sefaria was an invaluable tool in doing so, since it gave me a window into Talmud. I am unfamiliar with Hebrew, much less Aramaic and without Sefaria I would have been completely shut out of Gemara...Gd bless you guys at Sefaria!"
This app has changed world. A simple concept but utterly unprecedented and well executed. I'm already starting to find it amazing that there was Jewish learning before Sefaria. I use the app everyday—always with joy.
Anonymous User (iOS App Review)
I am an old-school, low tech, "aol" rabbi, who is more apt to go for the book than the computer. For years, I have watched my younger colleagues use the disks to generate material for classes or sermons. For me, cut and paste meant scissors and tape. Sefaria has encouraged and allowed me to step into the new world of research and creation of materials.
Rabbi Steven Lindemann, Temple Beth Shalom, Cherry Hill, NJ
I use Sefaria all the time - prepping for class, learning on the go, in the middle of a conversation and want to find a source...It has been an amazing Torah tool in my life. When I got a new phone I gladly didn't download some of my previous apps but I knew I needed to have Sefaria right away. Thank you!
I use Sefaria in every aspect of my rabbinate. You provide an amazing resource – thank you!
Rabbi Jonathan Freirich, Temple Beth El, Charlotte, NC
My main Sefaria usage comes from my daf yomi study. When I’m out and about, standing in line at the post office or the grocery store, or riding on public transit, I can keep up with the current daf on my phone. It’s also helpful for quick screenshots; I enjoy posting about my study using the #dafyomi hashtag. Thank you so much for this fantastic tool.
Caroline Musin Berkowitz
I am the dean of Jewish Studies at the Ottawa Jewish Community School in Ottawa, Canada where the students of grades 6-8 use Sefaria exclusively as their sefarim of choice in the study of Torah, Talmud and Halachah. The students eagerly look forward to the use of Sefaria, invariably asking on any given day if we are using Sefaria today. They especially like going to brand new sources.
Rabbi Howard Finkelstein, The Ottawa Jewish Community School, Ottawa, Canada
I began to use Sefaria as a graduate student. I was studying Bible and Jewish education, and I often needed to make worksheets for students. Your tools helped me to create these worksheets. Now, I am in my first teaching job, and one of the first skills I taught my students was how to use this site. They all continue to benefit from the commentaries, translations, and everything else you have to offer.
Due to Hurricane Harvey in 2017 I lost about half of my library. While some of the lost seforim have been replaced, I do not have the physical space to have access to them. I have relied on the amazing Sefaria library to make up for the books that I am missing or cannot get to. I use Sefaria on a daily basis and there are some days that it is open on my computer all day long. Sefaria and I spend extra time together on Friday when it is Drasha preparation time. I am grateful for the regular updates and additions Sefaria makes to the library.
Rabbi Barry Gelman, United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston, Houston, TX
I use Sefaria almost every day. Taking a bird’s eye view of the open access of our sacred texts over our long history, I consider this a miracle.
Sefaria is the best thing to happen for me in a long time. I came to observance in college, and did not have the study background that I wish I would have. Here's where I felt inadequate. I prepare for each week by reading the Parsha, reading Rabbi Sacks' drash, and listening to R Yehoshua Gordon's class by podcast. But all I could ever do was quote the ideas that they brought up. I could rarely find their sources in a reachable and digestible location. Then came Sefaria. I use it every week. I am able to study the Parsha and devour the Rashi, check into the Talmud, the Gemara, and even check into what Chasidut might have to say about it…. Most importantly, Sefaria allows me, as a lay leader in a small community, to introduce our congregation to the 'Be'er Mayim Chayim' that is Jewish thought, in a way that I would never be able to afford if I had to purchase these books myself. Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for the service that you provide to the Jewish People especially in small communities like mine.
I’ve got bad eyes. For a number of years they had been ok, but in December 2016 my left cornea was rejected. I couldn’t drive and I couldn’t read for almost a year. About the most devastating impact of this was that I couldn’t learn Torah. I continued to attend my daf hashavua shiurim 4 times a week, but all I could do is listen and hope to remember what was going on. After a few weeks, I realized that I was able to read a tablet computer with the text set to white on black. Sefaria was my first app. I could see the gemara! We were up to Beitza, and I was able to see the Hebrew, English and Rashis to follow along. So, in addition to all the uses of Sefaria people know about, you should add one more – opening up Jewish texts to visually impaired people.
There are five of us, classmates from HUC '77, who are now all retired but, of course, we have not retired from text study, which remains a monthly ’Zoom’ activity. And a true taste of the עולם הבא. Having Sefaria available to help us find and gather the texts that make up our חומר opens up new study opportunities and saves time in our preparation and organizing of topics. תודה רבה
Rabbi Norman Cohen
When I saw your email I had to tell you how you have impacted me and the small town I live in! I am 15 and I live in Northern California. The Jewish population is super small here and, with no other option, I go to a public high school. But, I started a Jewish club with about 6 Jewish students. I always read your resources and I share the source sheets with the Jewish Club because they are so perfect! Often when I need to be strong in school, I think about the wisdom you share and it makes me prouder and stronger as a Jew. Thank you so much for creating such a beautiful website and for adding so much light into my world and the entire world! With deep appreciation.
I would not be able to run my class without Sefaria
Danny Weininger, Adas Israel
The accessibility of primary Jewish texts like the Talmud in an excellent digital format helps spread the words of our Sages across time and space so that they can live more profoundly and more closely within us. Sefaria has done so much to help Jewish texts travel and have meaningful impact. As an educator and a lifelong student, I am most grateful.
Dr. Erica Brown
Without Sefaria I would be stuck as I literally cannot afford many sefarim and do not live close to a Beit Midrash I can easily access as a woman. It is brilliant and more translations and more texts are always welcomed by those of us who do not have top notch Hebrew and Aramaic.
Five stars. I'm not one to give five stars, but this is worthy of it. Thank you for making so much available and downloadable to be read at offline mode, I will never be bored in my life as long as I have battery on the phone haha
Anonymous Google User (Android App Review)
27 open tabs on my web browser. 23 have the Sefaria icon. #WhatTheInternetWasMadeFor
Last week I was working with a congregant, a woman in her 70s, and I realized it would be helpful to pull up a text to show her, so I opened Sefaria and showed her the text. She had no idea what Sefaria was or how I could find a text so easily online... and as I showed her around the website, tears came into her eyes. She was astounded that someone like her could have such easy access to the Jewish textual library. She doesn't read Hebrew, but just what is available in English opens worlds for her. Thanks for making this available, for her as a student relatively new to Torah study, and for me as a teacher whose life is so much easier when I can find and use your source material.
Rabbi Shahar Colt, Congregation Dorshei Tzedek, Newton, MA
When Brooklyn Beit Midrash first started two years ago, we immediately began relying on Sefaria for all of our source sheet needs. Two years and about 50 source sheets later, we've helped fill our borough with meaningful grassroots Torah!
Jeremy Borovitz, Brooklyn Beit Midrash
Thank you, you have made long distant Chavruta possible.
Thank you so much for developing Sefaria. I do not attend a Jewish college, and for the first time in my life I am without formalized Jewish education. Sefaria has played a huge role in my continued effort to devote non-school time to serious Torash study. It is helpful, accessible, and truly impactful.
Sefaria is making a major contribution to Jewish learning by placing the Jewish bookshelf freely online in an open source format. Thanks to Sefaria, students of all kinds and all levels, Jews and non-Jews, wherever they happen to live, can explore the richness of the Jewish textual tradition. Unlike other endeavors of this kind, Sefaria is free of all restrictions and fees and is also multi-lingual. It embodies the democratic spirit of the internet and will hopefully have the same transformative impact.
Jonathan D. Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University
I teach middle school, and I use Sefaria nearly every day. The connections feature is wonderful, and my colleagues make fun of me for my constant refrain: “Well, let’s check Sefaria!
Sefaria did not only expand my knowledge and passion for Torah, but also gave me the confidence to prepare and teach Torah to others.
Shoshana Lehman, student at The Frisch School, Paramus, New Jersey
Throughout the centuries, Jews have always been the people of the book. With the wonderful development of the new National Library in Jerusalem, our people has a physical home for the book. The Sefaria project has the potential to become the digital home of the book for the people of the book. The digitalisation of our books, manuscripts and journals, is not just creating a vital online resource, but is opening up our ancient heritage to a new generation on a global scale in a digital age. I commend all those involved in this initiative and wish it every blessing and success.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
A Beit Midrash in your pocket! This is an amazing resource.
I was leading a Masa for Ramah in the Rockies summer 2017, which was a backpacking trip in Northern Colorado, in Rocky Mountain National Park. I forgot the source sheets at camp, and only realized when we stopped for our first snack break on the trail. Luckily, I had my Sefaria app and found the pesukim I needed. I took a screenshot, and promptly turned my phone off. When we came to the big river crossing, we learned Parshanut from Shirat HaYam. It was this beautiful fusion of technology making this remote experiential education accessible...and Sefaria made it happen
Dave Yedid, Rabbinical Student
About three years ago I began podcasting Mishnayot, Monday through Friday. Every morning those signed up receive an audio file and a Sefaria link to a page with the day’s Mishnayot in Hebrew and English. Our subscribers literally span the globe. Most are from New York and New Jersey but we have had hits from Europe and Asia as well.The podcasts and links have been used over breakfast tables in Long Branch, New Jersey, in cars and trains on the way to work and at work. They have been used on vacation and work trips throughout the world. I have had people come back from Cancun, Aruba, China, and so many other places saying – I took you with me on vacation. The ability to simply send a Sefaria link has enabled learning day in and day out in multiple environments throughout the world.
Thank you for such a wonderful resource! It would be very hard to do my job as a teaching assistant without Sefaria.
I don't yet have my own books to study from so the ability to look at the text and ALL of the commentary side by side as needed has been invaluable. It's a very clean, organized site with no distractions which is exactly what I need during study. Thank you so much!
Love your website and app. Your content is awesome and revolutionary. I learn daf yomi with a split screen: Gemara (English and Hebrew) at the top, and Steinsaltz at the bottom. As I move down to the next passage in the text, Steinsaltz commentary refreshes to match. What a graceful and brilliant way to study. Thank you!
Thank God I go to rabbinical school in the age of Sefaria! I don't know how I would get on without it with the amount of sources I see every day.
I LOVE Sefaria.org. It allows me to engage with the text online beyond anything I have been able to do in the past. When our tradition says the Torah belongs to each generation, Sefaria.org makes that wisdom tangible. Searching for word frequency, connections, and commentary all allow me to fully analyze text in a way I only thought possible after years of rabbinic or yeshiva training.
I’m already using Sefaria in the classroom - not only do I use it to create sheets but my (mostly not Jewish, mostly not reading Hebrew) undergraduate and graduate students are using Sefaria for their own research. It has made teaching Jewish texts to non-experts infinitely easier and has made researching those texts accessible in a meaningful way for the first time for those students who study Jewish topics as beginners.
Dr. Deidre Butler. Director, Zelikovitz Centre for Jewish Studies Associate Professor, Religion program; College of Humanities, Carleton University
My wife and I, in retirement, have become passionate about Talmud Torah and your site is becoming more and more useful as we expand our sources.
Thank you for everything you do! A few years ago, on the night before the funeral of my father ע"ה, I found myself in a hotel lobby without access to my books and trying to prepare a fitting הספד. Sefaria was a Godsend! It was very comforting to me to find a puzzling midrash from that week's Parasha and spend several hours engaged with it, looking up sources, asking questions, and gaining insights. I ended up sharing the first part of what I figured out at his funeral, and I wrote up the rest as a supplement to my remarks. To this day, when I think about the experience of his funeral, I am moved by that Midrash and the way my pshat brings me closer to my father's memory. Thank you for enabling that memory and for increasing our Torah knowledge!
The great task of Jewish educators in our generation is to help people enter the richly layered textual tradition that is our legacy as contemporary Jews, to welcome people into the complexity, beauty, and depth of a conversation that has been carried on for millennia – not simply as passive observers, but as active and creative participants. The significance of Sefaria’s contribution to this effort – by making Jewish texts widely available in responsible and accessible translations – cannot be overstated.
Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, President of Hebrew College
I’ve been using Sefaria for about a year. It’s so helpful for me because I don’t own/have access to a lot of sefarim and none really with translations.
Sarit Charli Shull
As an educator, I have come to appreciate Sefaria more and more. I now make sure to expose all of my students to what Sefaria has to offer. I show them how to use Sefaria to make sourcesheets. I love hearing their excitement as they realize how easy it is to make a sheet on Sefaria and how organized their final products look. They also are impressed at how Sefaria helps them do research by finding sources that connect to their topic. I am grateful that Sefaria is there to provide Torah resources to my students after they complete their formal Jewish education.
We made a grade-wide Siyum @frischschool on all of Sedar Nezikin on the shloshim for the father of one of our students. In 40 minutes the entire grade finished the Sedar of Mishna, learning in groups using @SefariaProject sheets. It was very meaningful & touching.
Rabbi Tzvi Pittinsky, the Frisch School, via Twitter
Amazing. Thousands of dollars of authoritative classical Jewish texts. Well organized, and improving all the time. The donors and workers behind this effort absolutely deserve the highest praise. They have my enduring gratitude.
I was just unexpectedly stuck waiting for a train. I opened @SefariaProject and learned an omud gemora (with some rishonim)! Thank you, Sefaria! Incredible!!
Shaul Wertheimer, @RabbiShaul via Twitter
Sefaria’s commitment to digital text access for all who seek to take hold of Torah played a pivotal and unparalleled role in my rabbinical school journey. As the first blind woman in the world to become a rabbi, Sefaria’s digital library enabled me to access rabbinic texts with ease for both educational as well as Torah lishma purposes. With much hakarat hatov do I thank Sefaria for the incredible and holy work you are doing.
Rabbi Lauren Tuchman