The second Global Day of Jewish Learning took place on Sunday, November 13th at Mechon Hadar. We had over 250 participants coming to learn with teachers representing almost 30 institutions from around New York City.
The Global Day of Jewish Learning unites Jewish communities around the globe to celebrate our foundational Jewish texts through community based learning. Last year’s inaugural event celebrated the completion of the Steinsaltz Talmud and counted over 400 communities in 48 countries and on six continents – clear evidence of the importance that Jews everywhere place on the shared experience of study.
New Perspectives on the Binding of Isaac By Rabbi David Silber We all read this story on Rosh Hashannah, but how much do we really understand about the story? Come examine the deeper meaning of this classic Biblical drama.
David Silber is the Founder and Dean of Drisha Institute for Jewish Education. He received ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He received the Covenant Award in 2000.
One Divided By Many = One: Reflections on Divine Unity in Shema Israel By Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky "God is One" is not a mathematical formula, says the Zohar, but a metaphysical assertion. How have Jewish spiritual sages understood divine oneness over the ages? Join us to seek insights from philosophers, poets and mystics.
Jeremy Kalmanofsky serves as rabbi of Congregation Ansche Chesed.
"The nation demands social justice": Who's ultimately responsible? By Dyonna Ginsburg Inspired by Israel's recent tent protest movement, we will take a midrashic look at the question of individual versus societal / state responsibility. What happens when communal leaders shirk responsibility for social ills?
Dyonna Ginsburg is the Director of Jewish Service Learning at the Jewish Agency. Previously, she headed the Israeli social change organization, Bema'aglei Tzedek, and was one of the founders of Siach, an international network of Jewish social justice and environmental professionals.
Egalitarian Judaism: Not for Ritual Only By Rabbi Joanna Samuels Many communities have taken important steps forward to create egalitarian practices within ritual and study. How can we use these practices to infuse Jewish communal life with an ongoing lived commitment to shared leadership and gender equity? Using rabbinic responsa literature, as well as contemporary organizational theory, we will examine how to live out the values of egalitarianism in all of the arenas of Jewish life.
Rabbi Joanna Samuels serves as the Director of Strategic Initiatives for Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community. In this capacity, she serves as an advocate, strategist, and mentor for women's advancement and gender equity in the Jewish community. Prior to assuming this position, she served as Rabbi of Congregation Habonim in New York City, where her leadership is widely credited with revitalizing the synagogue community.
When Enough Isn't Enough: Judaism’s obligation to share the wealth By Rachel Rosenthal In a world in which our food system is increasingly interconnected and interdependent, nearly a billion people face hunger each day while others have more than they could ever need. How does Judaism understand these inequalities and obligate us to eradicate them? Join us to examine classic texts that explore the Jewish understanding of and responses to hunger so that we might realize a world where everyone can experience blessing and bounty.
Rachel Rosenthal is an AJWS Kol Tzedek speaking fellow and a third year student in the Drisha Scholars Circle. She has worked on curriculum development and programming for a number of organizations and has taught throughout the east coast. She has a BA in Religious Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.
Zakhor: Mitzvah and Memory By Rabbi William Plevan Several important mitzvot of the Torah command acts of memory. In this session we will look at the mitzvot of Shabbat and Amalek and discuss the role of collective intergenerational memory in Jewish religious life.
Rabbi William Plevan was ordained at JTS and serves as the rabbi of Congregation Shaare Zedek on West 93rd Street. He is a doctoral candidate in Religion at Princeton University, where he writing a dissertation on the thought of Martin Buber. He is also the President of MATAN: Jewish Learning is For Every Child, an organization dedicated to opening the doors of Jewish education to children with special learning needs.
"When In Doubt...": Paradox and Uncertainly in Spiritual Practice Taught by Rabbi David Ingber This class will briefly explore the role of doubt, paradox and uncertainty play in our religious lives. We will explore classic Rabbinic and Chassidic texts that aim to not only incorporate these realities within a larger spiritual framework but to elevate them to the necessary stages in our lived spiritual lives. All are welcome and no prior textual or Judaic knowledge is required.
The Artists' Way--Choosing the Difficult By Adam Roffman What can the poet Rainer Maria Rilke and some good old fashioned musical theatre tell us through verse and song about how Jews make choices? A lot! But their message, as is usually the case with all good art, is not a snappy one liner, but a beautifully complex, challenging and surprisingly Jewish call to action. These texts will help us see Judaism through the eyes of an artist--you may be surprised what you learn about both.
Adam Roffman, a fourth year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, serves as the Rabbinic Fellow at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in Manhattan. Adam is also an alum of Amherst College, Circle in the Square Theatre School, the Conservative Yeshiva and spent a summer as a Fellow at Yeshivat Hadar.
Liturgical Agglomeration: Heaping Blessings Upon Blessings Upon Blessings… By Michael Friedman Most Jewish actions have a blessing associated with them. But some have two. Or three. Or even six. Why? What is the purpose of these “extra” blessings? How did our liturgy come to be this way? And what do these blessings teach us about the nature of mitzvot, prayer and community?
Michael S. Friedman has served as associate rabbi at Central Synagogue in New York City since 2008. He holds a B.A. in history from Yale University and was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2004.
Eretz Israel, Bavel, and Their Talmuds: Did the Story Ever End? By Prof. Alyssa Gray The Talmud Bavli and the rabbinic literatures of Eretz Israel portray a rather complicated relationship between the two rabbinic subcultures of Eretz Israel and Bavel. We’ll delve into the complicated relationship, and look as well at the role of the Talmud Yerushalmi in later halakhic decision-making. Finally, we’ll look at contemporary interest in the Yerushalmi, especially recent attempts to portray it as a “road not taken” in Jewish religious culture.
Alyssa Gray is Associate Professor of Codes and Responsa Literature at HUC-JIR/New York, where she has taught since 2000. She has also taught in many other academic and non-academic settings. Her teaching and research interests center around the Talmuds, the history of the halakhah, and the application of contemporary legal theory to halakhic texts. Her current major project is a study of wealth, poverty, and charity in rabbinic literature of late antiquity.
Getting Pure, or Getting Jewish? Immersion, Conversion, and Rabbinic Ideas about Jews and Non-Jews By Rabbi Micha'el Rosenberg Part of the conversion process--indeed, one of, if not the central parts--is immersion in a kosher mikveh. What did the rabbis of the Talmud intend by this requirement? Does it imply some sort of assumed impurity on the part of non-Jews? Or is it merely a ritual marker of transitioning between two identities?
Rabbi Micha'el Rosenberg is the rabbi of the Fort Tryon Jewish Center. He received his rabbinical ordination from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, and a PhD in Talmud and Rabbinics from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He has taught Bible, Talmud, halakhah, and Jewish thought in a variety of contexts, including the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education, JTS, the National Havurah Committee Institute, the Northwoods Kollel, and Yeshivat Hadar.
Finding Your Bullseye By Naomi Less An introduction to one of the key steps in Storahtelling’s Maven Methodology – FOCUS. Finding Your Bullseye teaches tools for taking any story (we will work with ancient Torah texts) and find the core message or value you want learners to engage with – and how to help them find their own bullseyes for themselves – using multiple perspectives, whole person learning and ultimately a newfound accessibility around ancient texts.
Naomi is a founding company member of Storahtelling and serves as its Director of Education and Training. Hailed by PresenTense Magazine as the “Ultimate Jewish Chick Rocker”, she breaks gender stereotypes with her faith-driven, edgy, pop-rock riffs, soaring melodies and uplifting messages. Naomi's passion for education, Judaism and music motivated her to founded Jewish Chicks Rock, an initiative to encourage young girls to pick up instruments and express themselves. Her strong character and unique voice amplify a powerful message: be who you are, no apologies. Naomi tours, trains and delivers inspiring, custom-made rock-shops around the world. Naomi is a spiritual musician in residence in NYC at the SAJ, Cong. Mt. Sinai, SAVIV / Cong. Emanu-El and Temple Sholom (Greenwich, CT). In April 2011, Naomi released her new cd “The Real Me” available itunes and www.cdbaby.com. Naomi's Shavuot contribution to g-dcast.com (an animated cartoon single entitled “Shout ‘em Out”) can be viewed at www.g-dcast.com/tencommandments
How Do We Pray and What Should We Be Thinking? By Rabbi Michael Paley This will be a consideration of Talmud Berakot 30b. What should our mindset be when we get ready to pray and what can we expect from prayer? Special attention will be given to the Biblical models of prayer and prayers.
Rabbi Michael Paley is the Pearl and Ira Meyer Scholar in Residence at UJA-Federation of NY. He is a former University Chaplain at Columbia University and the founding Director of the Bronfman Youth Fellowship in Israel.
Why should I trouble myself with the people’s voices of protest? Let my soul dwell in peace!: Tent cities, protests, and working for change through a Jewish lens Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster
Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster is Director of North American Programs for Rabbis for Human Rights-North America. Ordained in 2008 from the Jewish Theological Seminary, she is a noted teacher and writer on Judaism and human rights, and was named one of the New York Jewish Week's 2011 "36 under 36." A member of the boards of Hazon and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, she lives in Teaneck, New Jersey, with her husband and daughters.
Finding Yourself in the Siddur Rabbi Marc Margolius One may understand the siddur as an anthology of poetry expressing the deepest human experiences. How might we connect our own lives with the lives of those who authored these prayers? In this workshop, we will explore the link between spiritual autobiography, the siddur, and cultivating one’s Jewish prayer life.
Rabbi Marc Margolius is spiritual leader of West End Synagogue and Director of Alumni Programs for the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. He is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Yale Law School.
Understanding the Talmudic Principle Ha-peh she-asar Hu Ha-peh She-hitir Rabbi Judith Hauptman A close reading of Bavli Ketubot 23a and how the principle applies to cases in which a woman is kidnaped but later claims she was NOT raped in captivity. Is she believed? May she marry a kohen?
Rabbi Judith Hauptman is the founder and rabbi of Ohel Ayalah. She grew up in Brooklyn, NY, attended a Conservative synagogue, became Orthodox in her teen years at the Yeshivah of Flatbush, but returned to Conservative Judaism in college. She is the first woman ever to receive a PhD in Talmud. Since 1974, she has been teaching Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary and training future rabbis. Today she serves as the E. Billi Ivry Professor of Talmud and Rabbinic Culture. In 2003, she followed in her students’ footsteps and was herself ordained as a rabbi at the Academy for Jewish Religion. She currently serves as volunteer rabbi for the Jewish residents of a Catholic nursing home in Lower Manhattan. She lived in Israel for four years. Rabbi Hauptman visited the FSU in 1970 for a week and returned to the FSU in 2010, spending the month of May in Moscow while teaching Talmud at the Russian State University for the Humanities.
Rabbi Judith Hauptman has also been a pioneer in the area of equality of opportunity for women in Jewish life. She was a member of Ezrat Nashim, the group of women that issued in 1972 the first feminist critique of Judaism. Since then she has lectured widely on the subject and written many articles. Her most influential one is entitled, “Women and Prayer: An Attempt to Dispel Some Fallacies,” (JUDAISM, Winter 1993). In it she argues that women have always had an obligation to pray and for that reason can count in the quorum (the minyan) and even lead it in prayer. Her book, Rereading the Rabbis, A Woman’s Voice, has been called one of the founding works of the new Jewish feminism. In this volume she shows that the rabbis of the Talmud, some 1500 years ago, modified many legal institutions, such as marriage, to improve women’s legal and social status. As a result, by the end of the Talmudic period, women were no longer viewed as chattel but as second class citizens(!), a considerable accomplishment. Her other two books trace the evolution of the text of the Mishnah, the Tosefta, and the Gemara.
Reading for Diversity: A Midrashic Exploration of Eishet Hayil Aviva Richman
Aviva Richman is a faculty member at Yeshivat Hadar. She has taught at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, and she is a past Rosh Kollel of the Bet Midrash at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. She has also enjoyed teaching community-wide sessions for the Hadar Bet Midrash and at the National Havurah Institute. She studied in the Pardes Kollel and the Drisha Scholars' Circle and is currently completing semikhah studies with a private teacher. Particular interests include Halakhah, gender and sexuality in Judaism and niggunim. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Rabbinics at NYU.
Terrifying Zohar Rabbi Daniel Landes A narrative anime / manga : We shall focus on Yaakov Avinu’s strange transformation(s) that remain the human paradigm.
Rabbi Landes has been described as a "remarkable teacher who weaves the insights of his students together through a group process, in order to discover fascinating new meanings in age-old texts." As Director and Rosh HaYeshiva of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, he heads a team of outstanding scholars who are well-known for their use of unique educational methodology that combine independent thinking and deep understanding with sensitivity to contemporary relevance.
Rabbi Landes was a founding faculty member and Director of Educational Projects at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and a professor of Ethics and Values at Yeshiva University of Los Angeles. He taught Jewish Law at Loyola Law School, and was a faculty member at prominent think tanks such as The RAND Corporation, and major Jewish educational institutions such as the Brandeis-Bardin Institute and CLAL. Rabbi Landes remains a long-term faculty member of the Wexner Foundation and serves on the educational advisory committee of Taglit-birthright Israel.
Rabbi Landes has lectured at the rabbinic seminaries of all major denominations. He is well-known for his struggle to create Jewish unity. In America his synagogue in Los Angeles, Bane-David Judaea, was known for Jewish inclusiveness, feminism, social action, and Halakhic observance. Rabbi Landes has written widely in the area of social ethics, theology and mysticism, and is the Jewish law commentator for the recent series, My People's Prayerbook, a multi-denominational effort.
Democratic Daas Torah: Law as Wisdom Rabbi Elisha Anscelovits
Rabbi Ancselovits teaches Halakhah as Practical Philosophy in the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and in Yeshivat Maale Gilboa. He has taught and lectured at additional Orthodox and secular Israeli institutions and programs and in Shandong University (China). He has published a number of articles in Hebrew (and recently in English) on Halakhah as rigorous common sense. Elisha Ancselovits has advanced rabbinic ordination (Yadin Yadin), holds an MA in Modern Jewish Studies along with graduate training in Medieval Jewish Intellectual History, has taught critical Talmud and Bible, and is now awaiting a PhD for his dissertation “Towards a New Theory of Halakhic Development.”
The Impact of Ethics on Halakha Rabbi Jeffrey Fox We will try to understand the different factors that rabbinic decisors consider when answering Halakhik questions.
Rabbi Jeffrey S. Fox is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Maharat. He was the first graduate of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and upon graduation he served as the Rabbi of Kehilat Kesher: The Community Synagogue of Tenafly and Englewood for seven years. In Rabbi Fox's tenure at Kesher, the community grew three-fold from thirty families to nearly one hundred. During that time Rabbi Fox also taught at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah as well as the Florence Melton Adult Education School in Bergen County. He also served on the board of the Synagogue Leadership Initiative of the UJA of NNJ. Rabbi Fox is also a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute. He has also been a member of the faculty of the Drisha Institute, the Florence Melton Adult Education School in Westchester County as well as Yeshivat Hadar.