Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum, Dial-a-Daf Creator, 68

By Anthony Weiss

Published March 27, 2008, issue of April 04, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum, an ultra-Orthodox educator and innovator who created a series of dial-in phone lines with lectures on sacred texts, died March 23 at the age of 68.

TEITELBAUM: Created phone service offering lectures on sacred texts.
TEITELBAUM: Created phone service offering lectures on sacred texts.

Teitelbaum pioneered the now-popular concept of a subscription phone service that allowed users to listen over the phone to lectures on the Talmud with his Dial-a-Daf service, founded over 20 years ago. Since the system was computerized 15 years ago, it has handled more than 5 million calls.

“Eli Teitelbaum believed that technology was created for a reason, and he wanted to see it maximized,” said Binyamin Jolkovsky, editor in chief of the Jewish World Review Web site and a friend of Teitelbaum’s. “His goal was to take that divine spark that could be used toward spreading Torah.”

Teitelbaum grew up in Queens, the son of Rabbi Avraham Yaakov Teitelbaum, and later moved to the Boro Park section of Brooklyn. He taught sacred texts for nearly 40 years in the primary school of the Yeshiva-Mesivta Torah Temimah in Brooklyn, where he was also director of curriculum. Teitelbaum founded and ran Camp S’dei Chemed International summer camp in Israel.

Friends described Teitelbaum as relentlessly energetic and constantly writing articles, developing new projects and dispensing advice. He even learned judo. He wrote on subjects ranging from fraud and Ponzi schemes to Intelligent Design (in which he believed) and modern technology. A family member said that Teitelbaum would often bring a pen and paper along to weddings so that he could write in his spare moments.

He was also outspoken about controversial issues in the Orthodox world. Most recently, he decried a ban placed on a concert by ultra-Orthodox musician Lipa Schmeltzer, likening the concert’s opponents to the Taliban.

Teitelbaum developed the Dial-a-Daf system to make Talmud study accessible to people who were too busy or too unwell to attend a lecture series. Subscribers to the service could listen to prerecorded lectures by rabbis on that day’s page of Talmud. The program proved wildly successful and expanded rapidly to include a number of other offerings, but Teitelbaum ran them as a not-for-profit and made no money from them.

In one of his articles, titled “Modern Technology,” Teitelbaum wrote that integrating technology into Orthodox life required both eliminating unacceptable material and providing attractive, kosher alternatives.

“Banning modern technology simply won’t work and is totally unrealistic,” he wrote.

Teitelbaum is survived by his wife, Toby; his children, Dovid and Shainda, and eight grandchildren.






Find us on Facebook!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.