Highlights From Our 2018 Program!
AND MORE TO COME!
(Trans)Gender In Judaism: From the Torah to Modernity
For generations most traditional Jews saw gender within Jewish culture as black and white, male and female, with no place for fluidity. Until today, Ultra Orthodox communities ignore the existence of gender diversity within Jewish tradition. However Judaism is rich and full with gender diversity. This session will explore different approaches within primary Jewish texts, from the creation story, the several genders of the Talmud, to transgender theory within Kabbalah, with real life examples. The session will also include a hands on guide to creating queer friendly rituals!
The Notorious RBG: I Love it When you call me Big Savta!
Thanks to the rap musical phenomenon “Hamilton” teens across the country are now learning about the complexities of America’s birth via incredible rap songs that tell the story of the unique personality of Alexander Hamilton.
Well America needs another hero-win! Hear about her story thru 6 new raps by Matt Bar. Imagine the raps on the big stage! The time is right for the rap musical, Notorious RBG, focusing on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If she ain’t as cool as Hamilton, then it’s the poet’s fault, not hers.
Not From Heaven:
If Humans Wrote the Torah
Rabbi Adam Chalom
A traditional Torah blessing describes its origins: "from the mouth of God, by the hand of Moses." But university Jewish studies programs and every non-Orthodox rabbinic seminary teach our earliest literature's historical origins very differently. This session will explore the basic reasons behind these conclusions, how the challenges of archaeology and critical scholarship were received in the past and are addressed today, and what this means for personal, congregational, and inspirational connection to these texts.
Your Health: The Jewish Connection
By presenting sources from Jewish liturgy and Torah, I will show how Judaism supports the importance of personal health. Then I will tie in my lay research, as well as what I have learned in treatment as a two time ovarian cancer survivor and volunteer (for Imerman Angels, Sharsheret, etc.) about how people can change their everyday health (by eating whole foods, certain types of exercise and prevention techniques). Tie-ins will include Jewish community statistics for certain cancers, mental illness, etc.
Schmoozing With God
Rabbi Neil Brill
This text-based session will look at our prayers and our conversations with God as we express our individual needs, wants, and desires. We will examine some of the prayers printed in the Siddur (prayer book) and the meaning that individuals might attach to those prayers. We will discuss how we can schmooze with God like the "BFF" that God is.
Why Does Pesach Get a Do-Over?
Pesach Sheni is the “make-up” festival for if one is unable to offer the Korban Pesach during the regular time of the holiday. We will be exploring the basis of this “second” opportunity festival, and what makes it tick and unique, through the lens of biblical and rabbinic texts.
"DO NO MANNER OF WORK": SHABBAT, REST, WORK, AND LABOR DAY
with Jonathan Wolf
In the week before America's annual holiday celebrating working people and their labors, we will study texts on how Jewish tradition defines rest & creative work, on how our sages viewed jobs & laboring, and on the rights & responsibilities of employees & of their bosses. How have Jews been central to organizing American workers and to building the trade union movement? How are labor unions faring in an era of ongoing governmental & judicial antagonism and amid the 'gig economy'? We will review the history & contributions of the Jewish Labor Committee and of unions historically led & populated by Jews. The Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy declare that our Sabbath is intended "...so that your male and female servants may rest as you do. That is why God commanded you to observe the Shabbat," How do we follow & apply that obligation today?
Bodies of Water: Exploring Mikvah, Mindful Eating and Jewish Yoga
Bodies of Water introduces Mikvah as a healthy, positive practice with which to experience the holiness of the body. In this session, we will do a "virtual" Mikvah immersion via a guided meditation, get a taste of Jewish yoga, and mindfully enjoy a snack with brachot. All ages and genders are welcome.
How Leonard Bernstein used the music of the S'lichot service to create West Side Story
In creating West Side Story, Leonard Bernstein transformed Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare's story about chance and fate into a story about choice and T'shuvah. In this presentation, Carl will show you how Leonard Bernstein used the musical modes of the S'lichot service (part of the High Holiday liturgy) to not only write the music but also to infuse the score with Jewish concepts of S'lichot and T'shuvah, forgiveness and repentance.
How can the Jewish State fully include non-Jews in the Zionist project?
Rabbi Asher Lopatin
Israel is the Jewish State. Yet 25% of its citizens are either Muslim, Christian or of no determined religion. How did the founding fathers of the State of Israel and subsequent thinkers - inside Israel and outside - imagine including this non-Jewish population - many of them Palestinians - in the project of building the Jewish State? Some surprising solutions.
Sound and Spirituality: Considering the Invisible
In this session, we will look at both biblical and academic sources about sound and faith to consider the invisible, immaterial relationship between two invisible, immaterial concepts: sound and spirituality. In what ways does sound rely on faith, but also how does it work to build faith and faith communities? This session will include a listening exercise as well as discussion.
New Approaches to Working with Anti-semites: From Stolen Wells to Abolitionism
Rabbi Asher Lopatin
In today's world many Jews find themselves eager to join forces - on the Right or on the Left - which are fighting for a cause they believe in, or against a cause they find deeply troubling. The problem is, that some of the leaders of these forces are tinged with anti-Semitism and/or anti-Zionism. Are there models within our tradition for moving forward?
Into The Depths
Mikvah is a powerful yet controversial Jewish practice. Join me for a discussion exploring how this ancient ritual is gaining relevance in progressive Judaism. Learn how we are removing “Purity” from the conversation about Mikvah, going back to its biblical roots and re-framing it as a ritual of transition. We will look at the development of Mikvah practices and Halacha outside of orthodoxy, and take note of trends that now extend far beyond the traditional uses around conversion, monthly usage, and kashrut. Many of us grew up with negative associations about Mikvah and have never imagined that it could be relevant to us. See how we are changing perceptions and practices so that a new generation of Jews grows up with positive feelings about ritual immersion. All ages and genders are welcome.
De- and Reconstructing Kabbalat Shabbat through Hip Hop
Eden Perlstein (ePRYHME)
Eden Pearlstein, in collaboration with renowned world-soul singer Basya Schechter, has recently released an exciting new musical album called RAZA. RAZA, which is Aramaic for secret, is a radical re-imagining of the traditional prayers and mystical poetry recited on Friday night to welcome the Sabbath Bride. Come learn about the creative processes of 16th century Kabbalists that led to the Kabbalat Shabbat liturgy that we use today. And see how this creative approach to Jewish life and practice is being applied by contemporary artists today.
Mindfulness living includes walking in nature, (hitbodidut practice), chanting and sitting meditation. Being in the moment aligns us with our divine self and Source energy (God). As we are inspired, in-spirit, we tap into our intuitive self and create the world around us in a state of joy.
We will experience the stillness and practice staying present and focus on our good feeling thoughts. Through walking, chanting, and Meditation we will become clearer with who we are and our personal God connection.
Broadway and the American Jewish experience
The American Jewish experience of the early to mid 20th century was reflected, and also influenced by, the Golden Age of musical theater, a thoroughly American genre. We will be looking at the backgrounds of major lyricists of that time, looking at their lyrics and connect them to major social themes and events, how these men were affected by American Jewish life, and how their lyrics were impacted by it. Be prepared to sing along!
The Multiple Marriages of Kabbalat Shabbat
In this session we will uncover the roots of possibly the most popular contemporary Jewish prayer service: Kabbalat Shabbat. Underneath the beautiful music we sing each week, there are multiple mystical-unions that our prayer facilitates. From the love poetry of Yedid Nefesh to the celestial wedding of L'cha Dodi, we'll see where these famous poems derive their source texts, how they describe the moment of Shabbat beginning, and find out which parties are betrothed each week.
Each Person Is a Torah
From Talmud to Rabbi Max Ticktin, traditional and contemporary Jewish sources have taught that each one of us is like a Torah. We will explore some of these sources together and consider the question: "If each of us is a Torah, how should we treat each other?"
In Memoriam: Elie Wiesel
Elie Wiesel was the voice and face of Holocaust literature and education for two generations. He is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Wiesel is known for his stark and powerful focus on life in Nazi death camps. Wiesel is also recognized for his focus on questions and questioning, as well as his emphasis on wonder, and imagination. He speaks to the abiding value of stories and storytelling. Wiesel helped us retain the ability to celebrate life and to maintain a sense of hope despite tragedy and loss. Wiesel experiments with new ways of using language and silence, song and story as tools of understanding. We will read selections from Wiesel’s vast corpus of published work, focusing on a range of stories/tales/creative midrash, and look at characters from Tanakh, Talmud, and Hasidic legends. We will examine how his dual emphasis on questions and stories enriches our teaching and learning.
Hasidic Storytelling - Outside the Box
Hasidic folktales are full of imagination and intrigue. However they also give an inside view at the Hasidic life in Eastern Europe, which is full of attributes that Modern Hasidim would consider taboo at best. This session will explore these tales from the 1760's to WWII.
Equal Citizens of the Halakhic Nation
This session will look at the tension between being a religious Jew and a Feminist. What do our ancient rabbinic texts say about the roles of women in prayer and leadership through the time bound commandments (ie tallit)? Is egalitarianism contradictory to Judaism or perhaps quite the opposite: a vision of being created in the Divine Image? By studying and discussing both rabbinic texts and contemporary experiences, we will make these important questions come alive in our own lives and communities and look at creating a more equal and inclusive Judaism.
Going South: Israel's Future in the Negev
Come learn about the developments in Israel’s Negev desert, an area that makes up 60% of the land but has less than 10% of its population. Find out more about the prophetic vision of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, and the epicenter of the Silicon Wadi.