By Stephanie Burton
iPods are ubiquitous on college campuses as students listen to their favorite songs between classes, during a workout and at the library. But don't let appearances fool you – at Syracuse University, those white earbuds may be delivering the words of Torah as well.
Rabbi David Levy, the director of Jewish education at Syracuse University Hillel, is using the popular music players to his advantage by producing a weekly podcast (an audio broadcast specifically for digital music players) called "Jewish Moments with Rabbi Dave." In just three minutes per week, students can learn how the concepts and values in the Torah are relevant in their daily lives.
"My hope is to create a message that's clear and short and will provide students a piece of Jewish content and inspiration for their week," he said.
According to Levy, Syracuse University Hillel is the first to facilitate Jewish study via podcasting. With the help of a technologically hip Hillel student, he turns his office into a recording studio to record lessons such as "The Impact of a Smile," which discusses the effect that one person can have on another, and "Making The Most of Every Moment," in which Levy compared the television show "24" to time in a college student's everyday life.
According to Joel Miller, the executive director of Syracuse University Hillel, the podcasting is a welcome and fitting addition to the numerous ways Syracuse Hillel reaches out to Jewish students on campus.
"We try to figure out ways in which we can touch Jewish students, involving the various media they're most comfortable with. Graphically enriched e-mails every week have been good, the Facebook this year has been good, and we've latched onto this new podcast idea, and it's been great. There's a good buzz in the community, and we hope the momentum stays," Miller said.
More than 600 people downloaded the latest free podcast, and Levy has made contacts with other universities, offering any student the opportunity to listen to the podcasts. Downloading the podcasts to an iPod is as simple as running a search on the iTunes Web site under podcasts for "Jewish Moments with Rabbi Dave."
Stephanie Burton is a senior at The George Washington University and an intern in Hillel's communications department.