abbis, educators, and lecturers have become keen marketing mavens when it comes to publicizing their topics. The answer to “what’s it about?” can either fill up a normally empty room or empty out a normally packed audience. Here are my Top 5 clichéd techniques most frequently used for conference sessions, shiurim, and lectures.


Help me complete this Top-10 list. I’ll start with the first 5.


1. Alliteration

Are you puzzled by the “Curious Conundrum of Quinoa’s Kashrus”? Well, even if you’re not, maybe this alluring alliteration will pique your interest. Even if you’re too lazy to rhyme, you can still corner the market for people who like hearing the same sound or seeing the same letter repeated over again. With this strategy, the attendance will be, no doubt, repletely robust with ripe representation. 


2. Make It Personal and Provocative

Shoot. You got stuck with an unsensational topic, and no one is going to want to come. Fear not. Just include some overly personal or provocative information in the title and you should be set. Of course, people want to hear “What Having Excessive Dandruff Taught Me About the Weekly Haftarah.” The only decision people will have to make is whether to attend your class or the concurrent classes on “Russian Collusion: The White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” and the “Din of Maaser Sheini Bizman Hazeh.”


3. Making It Count

No one is quite sure who was the first person to title his Sefirah shiur “Making Sefirah Count.” Some historians identify an early 19th-century rabbi who, after giving the class, was forced into retirement due to complications from a wrist contusion caused by getting all those high-fives from his rabbinic colleagues. Since that first shiur, many Orthodox rabbinical schools have insisted their musmachim sign a contract ensuring they do not serve in synagogues without a mechitzah, and that all future Sefirah shiurim must include counting puns.


4. Spoiler Alert

While shiur titles often build suspense, nothing takes the air out of an intriguing title like an overly explicit subtitle. “Does the Torah Care About Politics? Yes, Politics Is at the Center of Torah!” Umm, spoiler alert, please? Your title should whet the appetite, but make sure the subtitle isn’t subtly serving a five-course meal.


5. How Many Opinions?

If you have two Jews, guess how many opinions they’ll have. If you guessed three, then you have been to your fair share of shiurim. Nothing makes a more versatile albeit overused shiur title than sticking in the old phrase “Two Jews, Three Opinions.” It works for pretty much any topic because, let’s be honest, there’s almost always some dispute involved in our conclusions. But next time, just resist the urge to include the Jew-to-opinion ratio in your title. I think that’s something we can all agree upon.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 711)