The Hebrew Bible is Our Mission
The Hebrew Bible is the fundamental authoritative work in Judaism. The Jewish tradition teaches that the Hebrew Bible lays the foundation for all Jewish religious interpretation. The Singing Torah’s mission is to connect Jewish young adults to their Judaism and promote a lifelong engagement with their Jewish communities, through teaching them to chant the Hebrew Bible, using modern technology to bring the Hebrew Bible to life.
Your Cantor’s Voice Can Teach Hebrew Bible
The Singing Torah is an integrated bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah learning system. With The Singing Torah, Jewish cantors and bar mitzvah tutors more effectively and efficiently teach the next generation of Jewish young adults. The Singing Torah provides modern tools to the Jewish community to assist b’nai mitzvah children in achieving their potential as responsible adults. We provide online resources to aid rabbis, synagogue cantors, and bar mitzvah tutors in preparing their students for their bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah. Students with ADHD or dyslexia learn more effectively by seeing the Hebrew Bible verses while hearing the familiar voice of the child’s synagogue’s cantor. The Singing Torah creates tools for bar mitzvah tutors and b’nai mitzvah students to interact during the bar mitzvah preparation process without limitations of time and/or space. The Singing Torah creates curricula and tools for bar mitzvah tutors and students to facilitate learning the literal meaning of each word of the Hebrew Bible: 1. in the context of its meaning as would be understood by a Jewish person who lived during the Hebrew Biblical period and 2. as interpreted by Rabbi Akiva Ben Joseph who learns the meaning of a word of the Hebrew Bible in one context from its usage in another context within the Hebrew Bible.
The Singing Torah creates software that records a Jewish cantor chanting the Hebrew Bible whether a Torah portion or a Haftorah portion, aligns the synagogue cantor’s voice recording with the Hebrew Bible text, providing a multimodal interactive playback. The software handles both Ashkenazic and Sephardic pronunciation.
The Singing Torah creates web-mediated time-shifted two-way communication between b’nai mitzvah students and their tutors, allowing students and tutors to interact on their own schedules and at their own locations of choice.
The Singing Torah creates web-based tools to aid synagogue cantors in managing their bar mitzvah tutors, and tutors in keeping track of their students’ progress.
We Transliterated the Hebrew Bible
Our team completed an original transliteration of the entire Hebrew Bible. This transliteration includes all the Torah portions and Haftorah portions.
Jonathan Stiebel Executive Director
Jonathan Stiebel is the founder and executive director. He is an educator with an academic background in teaching the Hebrew Bible. A Conservative Jew born in Silicon Valley, he moved to Israel to learn from the greatest scholars in Hebrew Bible since Rabbi Akiva ben Joseph. He learned the language, anthropology, archeology, and geography of the Hebrew Bible.
Jonathan’s business experience includes building a team that placed as a semifinalist in the prestigious MIT $100k Business Plan Competition. His team’s business plan placed as a distinguished finalist at Harvard Business School and won in category of web-based innovation. Through this victory, his team became known to many top-tier Venture Capital firms which has positioned this non-profit to receive valuable connections with mentors and donors. He earned a Master of Computer Science from Weizmann Institute in Rechovot.
Mike Speciner Chief Technology Officer
Mike Speciner is a co-founder and our Chief Technology Officer and an MIT-trained technologist specializing in Hebrew cantillated speech recognition. He serves on our management team drawing from his breadth and depth of expertise including non-profit expertise gained from his service on the grants committee of the council for the arts at MIT. He has an extensive background writing software that mostly works.
Norman Abramovitz Board of Directors
Norman Abramovitz is a co-founder and chair of our Board of Directors. Norm was a member of Oracle’s early software development team that wrote the first commercial version of Oracle. He was instrumental in developing reliable, scalable, and predictable software at Oracle and performed an important role in bringing the first stable version to market. Norm has been a partner in a software consulting business with an excellent reputation for quality throughout Silicon Valley, for over 15 years. He teaches bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah students as well as post bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah students. He serves as Vice President of Education for Congregation Beth David. He studied Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Champagne Urbana. He is excited to be part of building The Singing Torah software to transform bar mitzvah lessons and bat mitzvah lessons.
Our Rabbinical Advisory Board showed me how every letter of the Hebrew Bible has meaning and shares a lesson for generations. Expert Israeli rabbis trust our RAB to teach the true meaning of Hebrew Bible.
Background on our founder:
We serve the cantors at synagogues together with rabbis. His connection began very early when he studied to be a teacher of Hebrew Bible at Herzog College in Israel. He learned how to teach Hebrew Bible in classes given to Israeli rabbis. He was the only American or non-rabbi present. That provided me close collegial contact with teaching rabbis over the course of many years. While the challenges in North America are far greater than in Israel, the Israeli rabbis had much more powerful tools than many American rabbis or cantors. He consciously used these tools in designing The Singing Torah.
He taught rabbinical students the Hebrew Bible in Hebrew. He was studying with hundreds of the most elite Israeli rabbis who came to that college to deepen their understanding of how to teach the Hebrew Bible. So, he heard their concerns and needs both in class and during breaks over the course of many years of his study. He recorded 18 full-semester classes on the Hebrew Bible each semester and shared them widely with his classmates as a friend. By recording the lectures on the Hebrew Bible and sharing them he became a valuable and known resource. So, he has a network of Israeli educators who often themselves taught American rabbis.