The NHC’s flagship program, the week-long Summer Institute, July 31 – Aug 6 at the University of Hartford, is a unique opportunity for serious study, moving prayer, spirited conversation, late-night jam sessions, singing, dancing, and meditation – all in the company of more than 300 people from a wide range of backgrounds. Each year, participants leave the Institute reinvigorated and excited to return to their home communities to share new ideas, skills, and experiences.
At the Summer Institute, every teacher is also a student and every student is a teacher. People who are usually called “rabbi” or “professor” throughout the year go by their first names here. And people who rarely take active leadership roles in their communities discover that they, too, can teach and contribute to the community.
One of the NHC Summer Institute’s greatest strengths is the diversity of its participants. We are musicians, doctors, students, furniture makers, retirees, Jewish professionals, homemakers, teachers, activists, and just about everything else:
Intergenerational: At the 2015 Summer Institute, the youngest participant was five months old, and our oldest was over 80, with many participants from all age groups in between.
Pluralistic and Inclusive:The NHC Summer Institute includes Jews from birth, Jews by choice, people committed to various forms of traditional and non-traditional Jewish practice, non-Jews, and people exploring Judaism.
Diverse backgrounds and lives: NHC Summer Institute participants hold a variety of identities including LGBTQ and straight; people of color, Sephardi, Mizrachi and Ashkenazi; urban, rural, and suburban; Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Reform, Renewal, secular, and Jewish without labels.
Learning for Everyone: NHC Summer Institute participants also have a variety of Jewish learning backgrounds, from those with no formal Jewish education to those with Ph.D.s in Talmud.
The dynamic process of exploring together what Judaism and Jewishness means in our lives is a highlight of the Summer Institute.
7:00 – Traditional Egalitarian Shaharit/Morning services
8:00 – Breakfast
8:30 – Yoga
9:25 – Workshop: A History of Klezmer
10:35 – Class: Radicals and Robber Barons
12:30 – Lunch
1:40 – Class: Dancing in the House of God
3:20 – Workshop: Kippah Crocheting
4:30 – Free time (Swim in the lake, play with kids, work out, take a nap)
6:15 – Dinner
7:15 – Mincha /Ma’ariv Evening Services
8:00 – Artist-in-Residence performance
10:00 – Late Night Hike
Every day at the Summer Institute offers a different menu of spirited prayer options. There will be prayer in many styles, including daily traditional egalitarian morning services in Hebrew and English, plus meditative, movement, and musical services, with and without instruments, both indoors and outdoors, as well as daily mincha (afternoon) and maariv (evening) services.
Is there a service you’d like to lead, or a davening experiment you want to try? Please indicate on the registration form if you would like to lead a service (or alternative activity) in any style. All davening is intended to be family friendly. All minyanim organized and sponsored by the NHC are fully egalitarian, with equal participation regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Individual participants who wish to organize minyanim in which eligibility for leading or participation is differentiated by gender may contact the NHC office to arrange a meeting space.
We look forward to creating community together at this year’s Institute!