Four international Jewish organizations have partnered to launch an online platform of specially-curated content revolving around the Binding of Isaac story from the Bible that is central to the holiday of Rosh Hashanah.
The online platform, known as "The Akedah Project", features short videos in which prominent scholars, artists and teachers offer a wide variety of perspectives on this most confounding of Biblical stories, in which Abraham is asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. The videos will include contributions by rabbis and academic scholars, as well as perspectives drawn from Israeli poetry, LGBTQ+ experiences, music and comedy.
The project was jointly created by BINA: The Jewish Movement for Social Change, 929 English, JewishLIVE/Judaism Unbound and the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto.
"We see the Jewish message, 'Lay not your hand upon the lad,' which appears in the Akedah story, as central. We are told to treat each person with dignity and respect regardless of their religion, race or sex, for we are all created in the image of God," said Nir Braudo, deputy director of BINA.
"The Akedah Project is also a proof of concept for something much bigger," says Dan Libenson, the founder and executive director of jewishLIVE and Judaism Unbound. "Most Jews don't understand why the Binding of Isaac plays a central role in the Rosh Hashanah service," he says. "There isn't a single answer, and a highly accessible learning portal like this makes it possible for people to engage with a difficult text and come to their own conclusions." The Akedah Project is hosted on jewishLIVE, an online platform for digital Jewish content, learning, and experiences that launched as the global pandemic began. So far, 7,000 people have visited the Akedah Project's main page and videos have been viewed more than 20,000 times.
"Jews come together over a shared text, and offer dialogue, discussion, debate, and criticism—always within the context of a community. For us, this is what the Jewish people is all about, and partnering to produce 30 interpretations of a single text is a great expression of that," said Shira Hecht-Koller, director of education at 929 English, a co-creator of the project.