By Immanuel Shalev
Chief Operating Officer
Since it is Purim Katan this evening, we thought we’d celebrate this special occasion with you all by sharing a bit of exciting Aleph Beta history.
Purim is a very special holiday for us, because at this time last year, we took the first steps toward making our videos more engaging – shorter, more fun, and with powerful, relatable messages. The videos that you are now used to: 10 minute parsha videos, and 4-part series for a holiday, descended from 3 to 5 hour lectures and from hundreds of pages of notes in the mind of Rabbi David Fohrman.
Rabbi Fohrman isn’t just an incredible teacher of Torah – he is one of the most creative and tech-savvy Rabbis you will ever meet. A couple of years ago, after the rising success of Khan Academy, Rabbi Fohrman wondered if the visual medium might be perfect for his material. After all, describing chiasms and pointing to intertextual parallels relies on the student to take him at his word. That wasn’t good enough for Rabbi Fohrman. Armed with screencasting software and some tutorials, Rabbi Fohrman started to teach his Genesis material through illustrative video.
Rabbi Fohrman scribbled on the screen, picked out his own music and images, and spent hours putting together videos that added another dimension to his teachings. And he didn’t stop at one video – no, Rabbi Fohrman sat and created 60 videos to teach his Genesis material and worked through another 80 for “part 1” of his Yosef material.
At the beginning stages of Aleph Beta, our video editors merely cleaned up the videos that Rabbi Fohrman created. At Purim-time last year, in an effort to give Rabbi Fohrman more time to research, develop and teach his material, our incredibly talented video editors decided to take a crack at building videos from scratch, using only Rabbi Fohrman’s audio. The Purim video series was our first major success, taught in over 25 schools and viewed by over 14,000 people.
Our video editing team has been improving their game with each video, taking the words of Rabbi Fohrman’s lectures, capturing the main essence of his teaching, and creating the most powerful medium for its delivery. We now have an incredible team of excited young professionals working with Rabbi Fohrman on developing content, editing, producing videos, developing our web-offerings, and distributing the material to schools and adult-ed programs. Our material is being studied in more than 100 schools, and by 100,000 people throughout the world. We’re continuing our popular holiday and parsha series, and hope to expand our library of topics each month.
Ultimately, we’re still doing what we do because of you, our fans. We all love coming to work everyday because we think that Rabbi Fohrman’s methodology and Torah content is incredible. And it makes us even more excited when we get the kind of feedback that you all share with us each week.
So as Purim approaches, and in anticipation of this year’s new Purim course, take a walk down memory lane and enjoy last year’s course: The Hidden Story of Queen Esther.