Steinsaltz Portal launched to mark rabbi’s third ‘yahrzeit’

The Steinsaltz Portal is a comprehensive treasure trove of the rabbi’s books, classes, and articles, all fully digitized and preserved for future generations.

 The Steinsaltz Center portal. (photo credit: THE STEINSALTZ CENTER)
The Steinsaltz Center portal.

“Rabbi Steinsaltz was very similar to Rabbi Sacks – they both believed in spreading Torah to the masses to all four corners of the globe. This is precisely the goal of our new portal – to make Rabbi Steinsaltz’s works and writings accessible to all, with no effort, at the touch of a finger.” 

“Like Rabbi Sacks, Rabbi Steinsaltz was very much influenced by the Lubavitcher Rebbe – he was his mentor, who encouraged him to become a rabbi and share his knowledge and wisdom to the world. Both were great intellectuals, both had an ability to feel at home in both worlds – science and Torah – and both were men of intellect and emotion,” said Liza Even-Israel, daughter-in-law of Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz

Steinsaltz was awarded the Israel Prize in 1988 for producing his masterpiece – a translation and commentary on the Babylonian Talmud. His Talmud – The Steinsaltz Edition – was a pioneering work and made the Talmud accessible to the masses. 

In 2012, Steinsaltz was awarded the National Jewish Book Award by the Jewish Book Council for his commentary, translation, and notes in the Koren Babylonian Talmud. He also received the President’s Medal in 2012 for his contribution to the study of the Talmud, and the Yakir Yerushalayim prize in 2017 for his writing and translation work. 

Rabbi Steinsaltz passed away on August 7, 2020, aged 83. Since his death, there has been a proliferation of his books being published, in Hebrew, English, and French. The publishers plan to publish two books per year, as well as begin to produce the new edition of the Talmud in French. 

 Rabbi Steinsaltz with Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on his 75th birthday. (credit: THE STEINSALTZ CENTER)
Rabbi Steinsaltz with Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on his 75th birthday. (credit: THE STEINSALTZ CENTER)

What is on the Steinsaltz Portal?

The rabbi’s third yahrzeit (anniversary of death) was marked a few weeks ago, on the 17th of Av. To mark this date, the Steinsaltz Center, with the generous support of the Pershing Square Foundation, Bill Ackman, and Neri Oxman, launched a groundbreaking digital platform, the Jack Nash & Lou Bravmann Portal. 

This new platform offers unprecedented access to the entire Jewish canon, translated and elucidated by Steinsaltz. The Steinsaltz Portal is a comprehensive treasure trove of the rabbi’s books, classes, and articles, all fully digitized and preserved for future generations. The portal is very user-friendly and easy to navigate.

The new portal, with all his teachings, can be downloaded as an app on a smart phone, so there is no need for heavy books. 

They’ve had 30,000 downloads of the app, before it was even launched, and now the Steinsaltz Center is doing a big campaign to encourage people to download it. 

Researchers, educational institutions, educators, and students now have easy access to the multifaceted historical figure and the colossal volume of writings on Jewish thought authored by Rabbi Steinsaltz. The platform will provide a wealth of material, including articles, lectures, study materials, and pedagogical resources. 

To mark the third yahrzeit, the Steinsaltz Center also completed digitizing the entire Steinsaltz Library with 12 free daily learning cycles (access through membership), to make it more accessible to pass on to the next generation who get information digitally. 

The Jerusalem Report spoke with Liza Even-Israel about the portal and her memories of her father-in-law. 

“Rabbi Steinsaltz was a great mind. When he came to our house on Shabbat, he didn’t give divrei Torah [sermons on the Torah]. He came to us a lot and enjoyed being with us but was very quiet. He wasn’t a typical grandfather – he was very intellectual, very smart. 

“Yes, he engaged with kids, but, he wanted the time to be a learning experience. He spoke about the names of birds, trees, and animals he had been reading or writing about. 

“He told us about people he had met as part of his work and interactions he’d had. He was always interesting and often entertaining. He was very careful not to lecture or look down on us but rather to share and engage. His ideal was to interact with us via the intellect and sharing his experiences,” she stated. 

She said she remembered one story about her father-in-law that really typifies who he was and what he stood for.

“One rainy night, a man came to our office in Jerusalem. He asked if he could speak with the rabbi, Rabbi Steinsaltz. He came inside and was very emotional. 

“The secretary asked if she could get him some water. Who was this man? Well, there is a story here. He was a convict who had just been released from prison. While in prison, he was very low and depressed. 

“However, he did say that what kept him going in prison was the library there. He sat and learned the Talmud, which was written with a commentary he could understand. He actually finished Shas [the Talmud] in prison. Which Shas was it? The Steinsaltz Talmud. He became a knowledgeable and God-fearing Jew from that interaction with the Steinsaltz Talmud. Once he heard this story from the man, Rav Steinsaltz looked for the person who donated the Talmud to the prison, and he personally thanked him. 

“Rabbi Steinsaltz always wanted to share with us interesting things, what he had seen – from his travels and interactions seen- both with Jews and non-Jews. For instance, he went to an interfaith conference in Italy, and in the lobby of the hotel they were staying in, someone came up to him from Afghanistan and he went on to tell him about the history of the community in Afghanistan. 

“He cared for every Jew around the world and loved connecting people and interactions. His mission was to let Jews know or, as he put it, ‘Let my people know,’” she recounted.

About their new app, she said, “We want both Jews and non-Jews to download it and be involved, as Rabbi Steinsaltz wanted to open up Judaism to both Jews and non-Jews.

“On both the app and the portal, you can find material, with complete access to pictures and notes. The portal and the app are geared to everyone and anyone – adults, students, intellectuals – of all ages.

“Looking to the future, we are currently working on translating the Mishna and Rambam into English, the Prophets into Portuguese, and a special children’s version of Mishnayot,” concluded Even-Israel.  ■

For updates on what’s happening at the Steinsaltz Center, check out their portal at or download the Steinsaltz Daily Study app, available for Android and Apple devices.