Courses 2017

Courses are a central part of the Institute experience. Each Institute participant may enroll in two courses, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Courses meet Tuesday through Friday for 1.5 hour sessions. Each course has a maximum of 20 students and is led by a teacher who is also an Institute participant, presenting material that they love in an inclusive style that encourages everyone to participate.

Note that the first day of courses this year coincides with Tisha b’Av, when many people refrain from Torah study or other joyous activities. Courses whose first sessions are appropriate for those with this practice (or otherwise related to the theme of Tisha b’Av) are marked with an asterisk.

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Morning Courses

(Skip to Afternoon Courses)

AM-01 Visual Literacy and the Art of Photography*

Bill Aron (Timbrel Artist-in-Residence)

Photographs are all around us, yet there is very little sense of visual literacy, particularly outside of artists’ circles. This course will teach not only how to recognize the elements of an impactful photograph, but also how to make a photograph which is more interesting than the thing photographed. We will then apply those principles to photographing Jewish life around us. Participants are encouraged to bring their own cameras (including smartphones).

Photo of Bill Aron (Timbrel Artist-in-Residence) Bill Aron first gained international recognition for his book, From The Corners Of The Earth, which chronicles Jewish communities in Russia, Cuba, Jerusalem, New York and Los Angeles. A second volume followed, Shalom Y’all: Images of Jewish Life in the American South. His latest book, New Beginnings: The Triumph of 120 Cancer Survivors, focuses on people whose diagnosis of cancer led to profoundly positive life altering experiences. Lately, Bill has been working on large-scale multi-image panoramas of Israel by stitching together numerous frames into one photograph. Many of the photographs taken throughout his 40-year career have been exhibited in major museums and galleries throughout the United States and Israel. Bill lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons, where he is most likely the only professional photographer with a Ph.D. in sociology.

AM-02 Yoga & The Jewish Play of Opposites*

Jonah Boyarin

Some forms of yoga and south Asian philosophies highlight a balanced play of opposites as a means of more vibrantly experiencing reality both in its most concrete and its most transcendent forms. This balanced and non-hierarchical view of the world has a strong resonance with a number of Jewish ideas and practices. This course will explore possibilities for embodying Torah and engaging with the Jewish play of opposites. Each class meeting will be organized around a different paired Jewish theme (for example, “creation and rest,” or “quiet and song”). Each day will begin with a concise piece of Jewish textual learning on a given theme, continue with a vigorous 60-minute hatha flow practice that embodies that theme, and end with a reflection on the play between our textual and physical asana approaches. Note that the Tisha b’Av session will be appropriate for individuals who observe Tisha b’Av restrictions; its physical practice will be restorative (with minimal active exertion) and will explore the paired theme of exile and redemption.

Photo of Jonah Boyarin Jonah Sampson Boyarin has served as an educator-leader in a number of capacities. In 2016, he cofounded the country’s first Diversity & Equity program at a Jewish day school, at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay in San Francisco. Jonah recently embarked on a year of study and adventure, completing his yoga teacher training in Singapore, two terms at Mechon Hadar’s yeshiva program, and an Emerging Translator Fellowship at the National Yiddish Book Center. Yoga has been a grounding, joyful, healing force in Jonah’s life, and he is honored by the opportunity to share Jewish yoga with the NHC community.

AM-03 Jewish Memoir: The Art of Mining the Past in Service of the Future*

Carol Conaway

Is there a particular memory that has influenced your life as a Jew, or as a non-Jew in your relationships with Jews? All of us have histories that are individual and collective, and Remembrances are a very important facet of Jewish life and Judaism. When we think about what particular memory may have been the most important one that continues to influence our lives as Jews, or our relationships with and understanding of Jews, it is an opportune moment to dig into past memories, select the most notable memory, develop it for ourselves or into a project such as a written piece, a song, photographs, poetry, and so forth. We will “mine the Jewish memories” and produce brief memoirs for ourselves individually, or to share, and discern how this process may have influenced our lives as Jews (or non-Jews) in learning from the past, experiencing the present, and in identifying and pursuing paths toward hope for the future.

Photo of Carol Conaway Carol Conaway is an African American lesbian Jew by choice who is writing a memoir about her journey to Judaism and life afterward. She is a member emerita of the University of New Hampshire's Women's Studies Program. Some of her research has dealt with peoplehood and territory in rabbinic midrashim; press rhetoric in the Crown Heights conflict between blacks and Hasidim; black intellectual women; etc. Interactive classes with engaged students are those that she prefers the most.

AM-04 Jews and Ethnonationalism, Past and Present*

Liora Halperin

The White Nationalist ideologies in the US that have come to light in the wake of the Trump election have been correlated both with the support of right-wing Israeli politics and with antisemitic incidents in the US. These developments have prompted new and often challenging conversations in the Jewish community about Jews’ role as a minority group in America, Jews as a majority population in the ethnonational state of Israel, and the promise and limits of liberal politics in both societies. But debates about both liberalism and ethnonationalism have a long lineage in Jewish history that is worth studying as we consider the present moment. In this course, we’ll use a range of primary sources to consider Jews’ place as historical minorities in European and Middle Eastern societies debating liberalism and ethnonationalism; Jews’ divergent responses to the pressures and, at times, the antisemitism that emerged as a product of these debates; the formation of Israel and debates within Israel and regarding the Israeli state’s liberal vs. ethnonational character; and Jewish community conversations today both about our commitments to liberalism and our relationships to the substance and the policies of the Israeli state.

Photo of Liora Halperin Liora Halperin is a historian focusing on Jewish history and the history of Israel/Palestine. In the fall, she will begin a new job teaching at the University of Washington in Seattle after spending four years at the University of Colorado Boulder. She enjoys bringing the sources and perspectives offered by modern Jewish history into conversation with our contemporary community conversations. When not thinking about the past and wondering how to think about the present, she spends her time concocting and sharing the cleverest puns she can think up, doing crossword puzzles, and hiking in the mountains.

AM-05 Jubilee: Texts of Yovel Speak to Fifty Years of Occupation

Emma Kippley-Ogman

Yovel, the cyclic fiftieth year of biblical and rabbinic tradition, requires that all slaves be released and all land be returned to its original owners. This practice would cultivate in the people a particular set of values throughout the fifty year cycle – of sanctifying cycles of time, of liberation, and of the land belonging to God. We will study biblical and rabbinic texts about yovel, investigating how entering yovel-consciousness might shape our own understandings of the fiftieth anniversary of 1967, even as we recognize that there are no straightforward ancient prescriptions for contemporary political challenges. This course is text study to mine for values and to ask how each of us might enact them, not debate about history or potential political futures. Each participant will receive a copy of Yovel: A Sourcebook for Fifty Years, published by T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, with texts and questions prepared by the course presenter. All texts will be provided in the original and in English translation.

Photo of Emma Kippley-Ogman Emma Kippley-Ogman is a rabbi, teacher, and chaplain in St. Paul, MN, where she lives with her partner Benj Kamm and their two children. She has served congregations in Massachusetts and Minnesota, and most recently completed a residency in hospital chaplaincy. She has a passion for bringing our voices in dialogue with the ancients through shared text learning that gives us new perspectives on our contemporary realities. Emma spent last summer collecting and organizing Jewish texts on yovel for T’ruah’s Yovel: A Sourcebook for Fifty Years.  

AM-07 Devastation to Consolation to Hope: Spiritual Practices for Thriving in These Times*

Malkah Binah Klein

The ancient rabbis understood the importance of honoring our pain for the world. Honoring our pain opens us to clarity, compassion, and courage; yet, it is often difficult in our contemporary culture to slow down and experience our pain, even as we witness so much brokenness all around. We are blessed to journey together this week of NHC from Tisha b’Av, our communal day of devastation, to Shabbat Nachamu, a day of comfort and consolation. Texts from this season (Lamentations and Isaiah) will guide our writing, movement, and Hebrew chant practices. We will also be guided by the groundbreaking work of Joanna Macy and her book Coming Back to Life. Come ready to take risks, to open your heart, to laugh and to cry, and to discover new insights and new energy for caring for one another and our common home.

Photo of Malkah Binah Klein Malkah Binah Klein has served as a congregational rabbi, a spiritual director, and a teacher of spiritual practice. She is a graduate of Shefa Gold’s Kol Zimra Chant Leader’s Training and is also a devoted student of Mussar (Jewish ethical practice) and Qi Gong (energy cultivation). She is the author of a chapter on “Jewish Rituals across the Life Cycle” in A Guide to Jewish Practice (RRC Press). She serves as co-chair of the Philadelphia Chapter of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light, an organization of communities of faith responding to climate change as an urgent moral issue. She was one of the Liturgists-in-Residence at the 2016 Summer Institute.

AM-08 Building Bridges through Poetry*

Herb Levine and Reena Spicehandler

Lyric poets sing the song of the self, and, in some remarkable cases, the song of their nations as well. In juxtaposing poems by Yehuda Amichai and Mahmoud Darwish, the two poets of Israel and Palestine most often recognized as “national poets” by their respective nations, this class will explore the intersection between their representations of themselves and of their nations. The class will also be an experiment in peace-building, allowing the poets’ diverse visions and common humanity to co-exist.

Photo of Herb Levine and Reena Spicehandler Herb Levine taught literature at Franklin and Marshall College and is a veteran Havurah Institute teacher. Reena Spicehandler, a first time Institute teacher, taught literature at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Together, they have a hevruta (study partnership) on Israeli literature. They jointly translated stories of Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Israel’s only winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, which recently appeared in A City in Its Fullness. Herb's book of bilingual Hebrew and English poems, Words for Blessing the World, is appearing in 2017.

AM-09 The Hand of Heaven: Divine Decrees in the Talmud

Neil Litt

The Talmud declares that four methods of execution were delegated to the court: stoning, burning, beheading, and strangulation. A fifth method, not delegated to “the hand of man” (sic), is considered the most lenient: death at “the hand of Heaven.” We will study talmudic texts in hevruta (study pairs) to uncover the answers to the following questions: How does Heaven come to be more lenient than humans? What role does the hand of Heaven play in adjudicating capital offenses? How might one distinguish death at the hand of Heaven from other premature deaths? What processes have an outcome that depend on the intervention of the hand of Heaven? This course can serve as an introduction to Talmud study for those who are new to it, as well as a space for fans of the Talmud to encounter the variations of a theme playing out through disparate texts in several tractates.

Photo of Neil Litt A devoted student of the Talmud as literature in translation for over 20 years, Neil Litt is an experienced NHC teacher and a long-time member of the Princeton Library Minyan, where he frequently facilitates study sessions. He is an Assistant Director of Princeton University Press, where he has been Director of Editing, Design and Production for 20 years.

AM-10 Jesus: Good Jew or Bad Jew?*

Adele Reinhartz

One of the best known Jews of all time was that first-century Jew, Jesus of Nazareth. Yet his Jewishness remains a matter of some uneasiness for Jews and Christians alike. In this course, we will study together the first-century evidence for Jesus’ Jewishness, primarily found in the New Testament Gospels, and consider the sources and reasons for both ancient and modern ambivalence regarding the Jewish Jesus. Throughout we will also address the ways in which views about Jesus’ Jewishness through the centuries have changed in tandem with the ebb and flow of anti-Semitism from late antiquity to the present.

Photo of Adele Reinhartz Adele Reinhartz is Professor in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa. Her main areas of research are New Testament, Second Temple Judaism, and Bible and Film. She is the author of numerous articles and books, including “Why Ask My Name?” Anonymity and Identity in Biblical Narrative (1998), Befriending the Beloved Disciple: A Jewish Reading of the Gospel of John (2001), Scripture on the Silver Screen (2003), Jesus of Hollywood (2007), and Bible and Cinema: An Introduction (2013). Adele and her family, in various combinations, have been attending the Havurah Institute since 1989.

AM-11 The Lifelong Torah of the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto

Jonah Steinberg

Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmish Shapira, of blessed memory, Rebbe of Piaseczno, is best known by the title given posthumously to the collection of his poignant sermons taught in the Warsaw Ghetto, Esh Kodesh, “Holy Fire” – but his oeuvre of Torah is much more extensive, addressing every stage of life, reflecting many phases of his own. In this participatory course, textually based and accessible to all, we will explore Rabbi Shapira’s teachings for school children, his precepts for yeshiva students, the theological daring of his “Royal Road” (Derekh HaMelekh), and, finally, his sermons of the Ghetto years before his martyrdom.

Photo of Jonah Steinberg Jonah C. Steinberg is Executive Director of Harvard Hillel and a Jewish Chaplain at Harvard. Born in Canada and raised in downtown Toronto and in Vienna, Austria, Jonah received his B.A. at Brown University and his M.A., M.Phil, and Ph.D. degrees at Columbia University. He taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of the American Jewish University, and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College before becoming Associate Dean of the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College, where he received rabbinic ordination. Jonah has received the New Scholar Award from Harvard's Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion.

AM-12 Joyful Seasons of Our Earth*

Arthur Waskow

All the “Seasons of Our Joy” (Jewish holidays) are deeply connected to the seasons of the Earth, but for only a few of them (e.g. Sukkot & Tu biShvat) are the connections apparent in the ritual. We will explore several other festivals, exploring two aspects of “earthy” celebration: (1) In shaping communal Jewish prayer for a festival, how might we change the framework, focus, and language of ritual if we put the sacred relationship between adamah and adam (Earth and humankind) at the center? (2) How can we make public action for healing Earth spiritually powerful by using one of the holidays as the framework? There will be a major element of practicum in this course — pairs of students will actually prepare the blueprint of ritual for a specific holiday, either as communal Jewish prayer or as public activism.

Photo of Arthur Waskow Arthur Waskow founded and directs The Shalom Center, a prophetic voice in the Jewish, multireligious, and American worlds for justice, peace, and healing of the Earth. After creating the Freedom Seder in 1969, he took part in the original inter-havurah retreats and was a founding member of NHC Board. He pioneered in shaping Eco-Judaism through such books as Seasons of Our Joy, Torah of the Earth, Down-to-Earth Judaism, and (with Phyllis Berman) Freedom Journeys, and through his essay, “Jewish Environmental Ethics: Adam and Adamah,” in Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics. In 2014 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award as Human Rights Hero from T’ruah. In 2015 the Forward named him one of America’s most inspiring rabbis. He has been arrested about 23 times in protest actions for peace, racial justice, and healing from the climate crisis.

AM-13 Is It Immoral to Have More Than You Need?

Ari Weisbard

Most people born lucky enough to have economic privilege know deep down that we have a duty not to just count our blessings, but to spend at least some of our time and money to pursue justice. Together, we’ll discuss the roles for charity, taxes, and political action in this work and try to figure out just how far our moral obligations extend, allowing us to take care of ourselves without being only for ourselves. We’ll get some help from biblical and medieval Jewish texts as well as from secular philosophers John Rawls and G.A. Cohen. The class will aim to embrace both rigorous text study and soul searching.

Photo of Ari Weisbard Ari Weisbard is a long-time havurahnik and third-time Summer Institute teacher. Ari has worked on local campaigns for increasing Washington D.C.’s minimum wage, progressive income taxes, and unemployment benefits and establishing a new universal paid family and medical leave program.


Afternoon Courses

(Skip to Morning Courses)

PM-01 Seeing Torah: The Making of Visual Midrash*

Sarah Zell Young (Timbrel Artist-in-Residence)

What do you see when you read the Torah (or any Jewish text)? For centuries artists have been inspired by our holy books and created masterpieces with divine inspiration. Now it’s your turn! We will begin by examining images inspired by Lamentations (Eicha) to fulfill the custom of studying this book on Tisha b’Av and start to develop our visual vocabulary for creating our own visual midrashim. We will then study this week’s Torah portion, Va’etchanan, and look at how artists have responded to the text through the lenses of literal meaning (p’shat), allegorical meaning (remez), interpretations (d’rash), and esoteric hidden meanings (sod). We will then create our own visual midrashim on parchment, the original material of the Torah. This hands-on arts workshop will teach different techniques for working with parchment as an artistic material and presenting ideas visually across all platforms. The class will culminate with a creative presentation of our work to the Institute community. No previous artistic experience necessary. (Accessibility note: Although this is a workshop based on visual art, if you have vision impairment you are welcome; we will work in tactile mediums instead. Fine motor skills are also not required.)

Photo of Sarah Zell Young (Timbrel Artist-in-Residence) Sarah Zell Young lives and works in Jerusalem. She earned her MFA in visual art from Hunter College and is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. Sarah has exhibited her work and given talks about her work internationally including the United States, Mexico, Hungary, and Israel. She was the inaugural arts fellow at Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. Sarah has created experiential artist projects for the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, Jewish Theological Seminary, and others. She has been an artist in residence at numerous Jewish institutions including Brandeis University and American Jewish University. Her artwork appears in many publications including The Forward and, most recently, the cover of Hadassah Magazine.

PM-02 Tragedy into Hope: Self-Portraiture in Past-and-Future Masks*

Yavni Bar-Yam

We will be creating self-portrait masks that represent ourselves as transforming tragedy into hope. We begin in Tisha b’Av, acknowledging and mourning the negative by studying accounts of catastrophe, including Eicha (Lamentations). Over the following days, we will process this grief into a hopeful vision through artistic creation. The first step is collecting frightening images that resonated with us. Then we will look for comfort in physically working clay into molds with our hands, and meditatively crafting the masks with papier mache. We will process the images collected by collaging them onto the inside of the mask formed, and then transform them by making a parallel collage on the outside of how we feel the damage should be repaired. We will thus each explore and express our own potential to be agents of change.

Photo of Yavni Bar-Yam Yavni Bar-Yam is a puppeteer, which means he doesn’t have to choose between being a performing, visual, and literary artist. He has performed traditional Italian masked comedy in Bangkok, Czech revolutionary theater in New York, and street clowning in Israel. He has created rod puppetry accompaniments to contemporary classical song cycles, and (as one of the Timbrel Artists-in-Residence at last year’s Institute) built a shadow puppet tale using a sukkah as the shadow screen. As a writer, his plays have been staged in New York and Boston, and his poetry has been printed in the U.S. and South Africa. Originally from Boston, Yavni recently moved to Israel, where he is studying toward a master’s degree in stories, as well as teaching and getting to know the artistic scene. 

PM-03 “But You Can’t Be Buried in a Jewish Cemetery!”: Body Modification through a Jewish Lens*

Uel Bergey

Body modification is the practice of permanently altering the body for artistic, religious, or cultural reasons. Many of the world’s cultures and religions have laws and practices regarding body modification, and, though we may not think about it often, Judaism is no different. But what does Judaism really say about tattoos and piercings? How have the body modification practices of Judaism changed over the centuries? How do different Jewish communities interpret these laws in the modern world? Will having a tattoo really prevent me from being buried in a Jewish cemetery? (Spoiler: No.) By reading biblical, rabbinic, and contemporary texts, and discussing them as a class, we will explore these questions and more in an open, safe environment.

Photo of Uel Bergey From an early age, Uel Bergey has been fascinated by the traditions of body art throughout the world and first began exploring body modification about a decade ago. For the last few years they have researched this interest through a Jewish lens and were excited to find that there was more on the subject than they first thought. This is Uel's 15th Institute.

PM-04 Movies as Midrash

Alexandra Bicks and Marisa Harford

Throughout the history of the silver screen, Hollywood filmmakers have mined the Bible for source material. From black-and-white silent shorts to big-budget blockbusters, there is no shortage of films that tackle some of our classic stories. This course will pick four particularly memorable movie moments and examine them as midrash alongside rabbinic midrashim related to those same stories from the Tanakh. What questions arise from the biblical text for the Rabbis and for contemporary filmmakers, and what answers do they develop in response? Or, in rabbinic language, “Mah kasheh l’Hollywood?” (“What’s bothering Hollywood?”) The course will be accessible for all and will aim to grapple seriously with our selected texts while also allowing us time to enjoy the high drama of these epic films.

Photo of Alexandra Bicks and Marisa Harford After serving on the core team for last year’s Institute, Alexandra Bicks is thrilled to be returning as a teacher. She teaches ESL (English as a second language) at a high school for international students in Braintree, MA. She is a longtime member of Cambridge Minyan, where she sponsors an annual kiddush in honor of James Joyce and Bloomsday (June 16th). This year marks Marisa Harford’s eleventh year teaching at NHC events. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner Russ and son Elijah. During her spare time, she is the director of Teacher Residency programs at a New York nonprofit educating teachers for the NYC public schools, and she loves to sing in community (and in the shower).

PM-05 Bringing in Sheaves: Jewish Homesteading for the 21st Century*

Sarah Shamirah Chandler

Sing, knead, pickle, heal. Bringing alive ancient teachings and tools of nourishment in the 21st century, we come together to learn, chant, and get our hands dirty making candles, pickles, elderberry tinctures, and challah dough. Each day features a Jewish ritual object or traditional food, plus text study and song. Join us to gain skills to revive do-it-yourself Jewish eco-crafts in your home community. (Note: This course will have a small fee for materials.)

Photo of Sarah Shamirah Chandler Sarah Shamirah Chandler is the C.C.O. (Chief Compassion Officer) and team leader for the Jewish Initiative for Animals, where she works to support Jewish institutions to establish meaningful food policies rooted in Jewish ethics and animal welfare. She was ordained as a Kohenet and recently served as the Director of Earth Based Spiritual Practice for Hazon’s Adamah Farm. She presents, consults, and writes on Judaism, earth-based spiritual practice, the environment, mindfulness, food values, and farming.  

PM-06 Jewish Fatherhood: From the Torah to Today*

Brian Fink

What does it mean to be a Jewish father? Is it the same as being a parent in general, or is there a uniquely gendered particularity? What role models exist for us? Whom should we be emulating? What do we want to avoid? During this course we will explore examples of Jewish fatherhood in biblical, rabbinic, and contemporary texts and in music, paintings, photography, television, and movies. The course will include hevruta (study partner) learning, large group discussion, and creative writing. During the final session, participants may create a Jewish Father’s Day ritual, a Jewish Fatherhood Manifesto, or a fatherhood-themed Jewish Ethical Will. Participants are encouraged to bring their full selves to the course, whether they are a father/grandfather, have/had a father/grandfather, or have meaningful relationships with fathers/grandfathers in their communities. (This course is open to people of all genders.)

Photo of Brian Fink Brian Fink directs UJA-Federation of New York's Engage Jewish Service Corps at JCC Manhattan, a volunteer and community-building initiative for people in their 50s, 60s, and beyond. Brian grew up in Cleveland, graduated from Tulane University, and was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He has worked at Cornell University Hillel and participated in Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps. He and his wife Aileen became first-time parents this past November. They live in Brooklyn, NY.

PM-07 Translating the Siddur: Theory and Practice*

Richard Friedman

We will translate selected passages in the siddur (prayer book), and, using those translations and others, both old and new, we will discuss various approaches to what is desirable in a translation. We will in turn use these discussions to prepare translations of other passages. It is expected that participants will have a range of priorities and will write divergent translations; that very variety will help participants sharpen their ideas of what makes a good translation and how to achieve it. We will use Siddur Sim Shalom for our Hebrew text, recognizing that individual participants may personally prefer other versions; the focus of the class will be on translation and not on variations in the Hebrew text. Participants should be comfortable working with the Hebrew in the siddur aside from the more obscure poetic sections.

Photo of Richard Friedman Richard Friedman has taught text classes at several Institutes. He also teaches Talmud and Midrash at his shul, where he is co-chair of the committee developing a new Shabbat and festival siddur. He is a lawyer with the federal government.

PM-08 Four Polar Talmud Texts*

Solomon Mowshowitz

Desire and Fulfillment; Collective and Individual Responsibility; Truth and Piety; This World and the World that is Coming:  We’ll explore each of these dyadic themes in four profound aggadic (nonlegal narrative) Talmud texts, which will be provided in the original Hebrew/Aramaic as well as in English translation. The text for Tuesday will be appropriate for Tisha B’Av — it questions the metes and bounds of G-d’s fury.

Photo of Solomon Mowshowitz Solomon "Mosh" Mowshowitz, a past Chair of the NHC, teaches Immunology at Columbia. He has taught many courses, and has celebrated a siyyum of the Encylopedia Judaica, at past Summer Institutes.  

PM-09 Replacing Sinat Hinam with Ahavat Hinam (Baseless Hatred with Baseless Love)*

Susan Gulack

The Rabbis teach that sinat hinam, baseless hatred, was the reason that the second Temple was destroyed. Rabbi Avraham Isaac Kook, the first chief rabbi of British Palestine, taught that we would only merit having the Temple rebuilt if we replaced sinat hinam with ahavat hinam, baseless love. We will study Talmud Gittin on the destruction on Tisha b’Av, and move from there into rabbinic and modern texts on ahavat hinam and hesed (loving kindness), including some from classic mussar (Jewish ethical) texts and the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav. We will look at ways to apply these texts in our own lives and in wider realms to help bring redemption to the world. Texts will be presented mostly in English, with Hebrew source material for those who desire.

Photo of Susan Gulack Susan Gulack is a chaplain in three correctional facilities, a psychiatric hospital, and a VA hospital. Her work gives her an opportunity to practice hesed and ahavat hinam on a regular basis. She is raising two sons, who are mostly men now, and lives with her cat and a lot of yarn.

PM-10 This is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: An Interactive Journey through the Days of Awe*

Hilary Lustick

The space between Tisha b’Av and the New Year can come to feel routine. We sink into the same associations and feelings as the many holidays in between approach and fall behind. This course seeks to shake up those associations and help us carve out the new year’s journey using the tools of meditation, creativity, and Jewish teachings. Our anchor text will be Rabbi Alan Lew’s powerful guide to the annual Jewish spiritual journey from Tisha b’Av through Sukkot, This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared. We will also draw on Eastern and other traditions of meditation and have lively discussion about how transformation and struggle resurface perennially in our lives as they do in the Torah. We will strive to produce one poem or other creative expression each day, with plenty of support for those who need prompting and plenty of time and space for those who do not. Perfect for all levels of comfort with poetry and creativity; the only prerequisite is an interest in the topic of spiritual transformation. We will present these works in an event at the end of the week.

Photo of Hilary Lustick Hilary Lustick is a poet and writing teacher to students of all ages. Her poems cover themes of love, transformation, and connection in the digital age. She has been published in the limited edition poetry anthology Milk and Honey, as well as literary magazines The Legendary and 13th Moon. She hails from New Hampshire, spent 16 years in Boston and New York City, and currently lives in Austin, where she supports her poetry by serving as Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Texas State University.

PM-11 Jewish Views of the Afterlife: Traditional and Contemporary Perspectives

Simcha Raphael

This course is an exploration of Jewish texts spanning three millennia of history on afterlife and the postmortem journey of the soul. As travelers through time, we shall enter the worlds of Torah, Talmud, Midrash, Zohar, and Hasidic tales, investigating the diverse ways Jews have understood the enigmatic mystery of death and the world beyond. We shall also reflect on ways in which a contemporary understanding of traditional and mystical teachings on the afterlife provides a renewed framework for dealing with dying, death, and loss in our times. In searching for spiritual renewal of traditional teachings, we shall use the texts we study as a catalyst for for discovering practical guidelines for responding to the human encounter with death – personally, and in our families and communities.

Photo of Simcha Raphael Simcha Raphael is Founding Director of the DA’AT Institute for Death Awareness, Advocacy and Training. He received his doctorate in psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies and was ordained as a Rabbinic Pastor by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. He is adjunct faculty at Bryn Athyn College and LaSalle University, works as a psychotherapist and spiritual director in Philadelphia, and is a Fellow of the Rabbis Without Borders Network. He has written extensively on death and afterlife and is author of the groundbreaking Jewish Views of the Afterlife.

PM-12 Before Stonewall: Looking for Our LGBTQI Jewish Ancestors*

Noam Sienna

Too often, discussions of the history of LGBTQI Jews summarize the past millennia with a few sentences about David and Jonathan — or worse, they just begin in the mid-20th century. This course aims to investigate where we might look to begin recovering the stories of LGBTQI Jewish ancestors, while staying careful to acknowledge the gulf that separates modern and historical understandings of identity. We will explore Jewish history and culture from communities across the Diaspora to see what we might glean as LGBTQI Jews from the two millennia of poems, laws, pictures, songs, and stories that our ancestors have left for us. This course is a safe, welcoming, and confidential space for Havurah participants of all identities and experiences.

Photo of Noam Sienna Noam Sienna is a Canadian Jewish educator, calligrapher, henna artist, and graduate student at the University of Minnesota. His work focuses on the ritual and material culture of Jewish communities in the Islamic world, and his research has explored such topics as henna art, illuminated manuscripts, medieval poetry, and amulets and magic.

PM-13 Parents and Children in Roman and Rabbinic Texts*

Miriam-Simma Walfish

What obligations do children have to their parents? Parents to their children? In this course, we will study legal and narrative passages from ancient Roman texts and the Babylonian Talmud to see how these two different but related cultures produced visions for what a functioning family looked like. We will pay attention to the relationships between parents and children in these texts and consider the role that gender norms, cultural constructions of the family, and attitudes towards age-based hierarchies play in communicating values and maintaining culture. Our mode of study will be partner-based learning (hevruta), studying one passage each day.

Photo of Miriam-Simma Walfish Miriam-Simma Walfish is a doctoral student in ancient Judaism at Harvard University and the director of Boston's Teen Beit Midrash. A graduate of the Pardes Educators Program, she has taught Tanakh, Talmud, and Jewish law in numerous settings including the Gann Academy, the Heschel High School, and Yeshivat Hadar, where she also served as director of Mechon Hadar’s pre-collegiate seminar.

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