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January 25, 1985 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-01-25

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Friday, January 25, 1985

Joseph Hirsch of Oak Park
studies a page from the
Talmud with Dial-A-Dal



A new service

helps Detroiters

bring the

ancient practice

of Talmud study

into their

fast-paced, 20th

Century lives.


Staff Writer

By climbing into his car every day
for the one-hour trip from his home or
office to the hospital in Howell, Dr.
Joel Zacks has become a more learned
Dr. Zacks, a Southfield ophthal-
mologist, is one ofabout two dozen De-
troiters making use of a new program
that adapts the ancient art of Talmud
study to the instant-on, on-the-move
lifestyle of most 20th Century Ameri-
cans Jews. The program, labeled
Dial-A-Daf (Page) by its New York
creators, allows those who take part to
study a page of the Talmud daily from
a commentary over the telephone, or,
in Dr. Zacks' case, on his can cassette
"It's a great way to spend the
drive," Dr. Zacks says of his preference
for the Mishnah and Gainara over
Beethoven or the Beach Boys. Because
his hectic schedule does not allow him
the 60-minute block of time required
to study via phone, Dr. Zacks tape re-
cords the lecture each morning for
playback during his lengthy commute.
Dial-A-Daf has been available in
the Detroit area since last June, ac-
cording to Rabbi Reuven Drucker, the
program's local administrator. While
the project has no official ties to the
Daf Yomi (Page per Day) concept of
Talmud study in vogue for more than
half-a-century, Dial-A-Daf developer
Torah Communications Network, of
Brooklyn, felt that the program would
open up that particular avenue of
Talmud study to more people.
"In almost every city with a size-

able Jewish population, including De-
troit, there are classes given in Daf
Yomi," according to Rabbi Drucker.
"But many people who would like to
take such classes find themselves un-
able to because the classes don't meet
at convenient times for them." The
project is one way in which we can
have a program of Talmud study that
conforms to the people rather than
having people conform to the program,
he added.
Dial-A-Daf users know that they
are making a long-term commitment.
With the Daf Yomi technique it will
take some seven years before they will
have studied every page of the Tal-
In Detroit, the merging of Talmud
with modern technology is accom-
plished with a phalanx of electronic
-equipment that sits behind Rabbi
Drucker's desk in his Young Israel of
Greenfield 'office. There are three
stereo tape decks, modified for use in
the Dial-A-Daf program, a telephone
answering machine capable of han-
dling up to 24 calls at a time and a
computerized clock. The commen-
taries, which are anywhere from 45 to
57 minutes long, are repeated at the
top of each hour, Rabbi Drucker said.
The service is operational 24 hours a
day with a new lecture available each
day, except Saturdays, beginning at 5
The system automatically shuts
down for Shabbat and on major Jewish
holidays, according to the rabbi.
Area subscribers pay $6 per


month to tap in to the Dial-A-Daf serv-
ice and any zone charges they might
incur in calling the local Dial-A-Daf
number,. "The subscriber fees offset
the cost of running the program,"
Rabbi Drucker said, "but no one is
making any profit from this."
The peak hours of operation, ac-
cording to Rabbi Drucker, are in the
early morning, around noon and late
at night. "Many of our users split their
study session in half, calling in at 7
a.m. for a half-hour and then catching
the second 30 minutes of that day's
lecture later on.
"The essence of the system, and
the reason for the computerized tim-
ing, is so that a person can call in at
any time of the day and know exactly
what to expect."
For Joseph Hirsch, Dial-A-Daf
"provides me with the opportunity to
study at a time that is convenient to
me, usually in the evening after I get
home from work."
Hirsch added that he, as well as
many other users of the program, find
that the system makes an excellent
supplement to Talmud study in the
Since Dial-A-Daf was launched in
1982, 15 cities in the United States
and Canada have implemented the
Talmud-by-telephone program. In
addition to Detroit, Talmudists can
study through Dial-A-Daf in Chicago,
Los Angeles, Cleveland, Toronto,
Montreal, Miami, Baltimore,
Philadelphia, Boston, Denver and four

on Page 36
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441%6 Jar to" WA 11111, 41/06

•0.416 IF.

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