Rabbi Yisroel Isaacs serves as a Rabbi in Phoenix, Arizona at Beth Joseph Congregation and is a Director of Kashruth at the Greater Phoenix Vaad Hakashruth. He writes a weekly Dvar Torah on the parasha at rabbiisaacs.wordpress.com. Connect with Rabbi Isaacs on twitter: @rabbieye.
You want to give a class about a pertinent but off-the-beaten-path topic that shows how the Torah relates to contemporary issues and might pique people’s interests. Where will you get the source material, and how will you prepare it within the short time you have available? Olamot.net has 266 solutions to this problem. Olamot.net is a website that publishes a new in-depth DIY (do it yourself) shiur package every week.
A project of Zvi Ryzman of Los Angeles, this all-Hebrew site is designed to provide a framework for yeshiva-educated laymen to tap back into the excitement of in-depth Torah study, but is also ideal for educators to adapt for teaching audiences of any level or background. Each of these 266 shiurim, which comes with a PDF scanned source packet and a teaching guidebook, covers all of the major issues surrounding an ethical, halachic, or hashkafic topic that is related to the parasha, upcoming holiday, or other current event.
Although some of the shiurim are centered around intricate and technical halachic topics (like using wine with kedushas Shevi’is for the arba kosos, muktzeh machmas chisaron kis, and panim chadashos), the vast majority can be used to prepare classes about fascinating topics like DNA in halacha, posing as an idolater in a life-threatening situation, and fulfilling mitzvos in space.
Some other great topics include soneh matanos yichyeh, the roles of Yishmael and Eisav, medical malpractice, Ayin Hara, and eating food you don’t like (Bal tishaktzu). Olamot.net is a free site which is well-organized according to parasha, holiday, and topic, and allows downloading of all materials after registering with a user-name and password.