The NHC’s flagship program, the week-long Summer Institute, that will take place this year July 27 – August 2 at the University of Hartford, provides 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.
We are so thrilled to announce the theme for Summer Institute 2020: “Kumi tzei mitoch ha’hafecha,” “Get up, go out, from amidst the upheaval.” These words are found in Lecha Dodi, a poem we say each Friday night as we welcome in the peace and joyfulness of Shabbat. The entire verse struck some deeply resonant tones for our Core Team:
The theme for the 2020 NHC Summer Institute is
קֽוּמִי צְאִי מִתּוֹךְ הַהֲפֵכָה
Kumi tzei mitoch ha’hafecha
Get up, go out from amidst the upheaval
These words are found in Lecha Dodi, a poem we say each Friday night as we welcome in the peace and joyfulness of Shabbat. The entire verse struck some deeply resonant tones for our Core Team:
Holy sanctuary, holy city, מִקְדַּשׁ מֶֽלֶךְ עִיר מְלוּכָה.
Get up, go out from amidst the upheaval. קֽוּמִי צְאִי מִתּוֹךְ הַהֲפֵכָה
Too long have you dwelt in the valley of tears, רַב לָךְ שֶֽׁבֶת בְּעֵֽמֶק הַבָּכָא
G!d will show you compassion and mercy וְהוּא יַחֲמוֹל עָלַֽיִךְ חֶמְלָה
As we discussed the tone and energy we want to bring to Institute 2020, the Core Team talked about how devastating and exhausting the last few years have been for many of us and for our communities. We are living in a political moment characterized by fear, hostility, and ubiquitous injustice. For us, the Summer Institute is a refuge from the pain of these times, and it is also a source of strength and spiritual grounding.
During Institute this coming summer, we will have the opportunity to observe Tisha B’av together, a time when we open ourselves up to the grief in our hearts. And just a few days later, we will celebrate Shabbat Nachamu (a Shabbat of comfort), allowing ourselves to feel uplifted by song, sustenance, and community. We look forward to replenishing our reserves, finding strength in each other, and fortifying ourselves to continue to pursue justice.
We found this trajectory – from sadness to comfort, from grief to celebration – to be deeply empowering. With our theme, we wanted to open communal conversations about moving through chaos, and what it means to find power together, and to move through difficulty toward a place of compassion and joy.
Eliana, Glenda, and Rebecca
(see bios below!)
At the Summer Institute, every teacher is 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 Summer Institute, participant ages have ranged from a month and a half old to over 80 years. Children between 6 months and 12 years old can spend the week at Kids Camp. Participants from all age groups shared meals, stories, teachings, songs, and talents all week long.
Pluralistic and Inclusive: The NHC Summer Institute includes people committed to various forms of traditional and non-traditional Jewish practice, Jews from birth, Jews by choice, Jews with multiple religious heritages, 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.
Financial Accessibility: The NHC is deeply committed to making the Institute financially accessible to all. Fees are on a sliding scale, and numerous fellowships and work-study opportunities are available. In particular, first-time attendees ages 22-32 can apply for the Zeitler fellowship, college students and others ages 18-21 are welcome to apply for the Ma’avir fellowship (new this year!). For more information, see our Residencies and Fellowships page.
Schedule Outline (more details below)
7:00 – Traditional Egalitarian Minyan Shaharit/Morning services
8:00 – Breakfast
8:30 – Minyanim
9:25 – Workshops
10:35 – Classes
12:30 – Lunch
1:40 – Classes
3:20 – Workshops
4:30 – Less structured time (go for a walk, play with kids, take a nap, study Mishna, meet up with a group that shares a particular interest or identity, find a partner and follow the contra dance caller’s instructions, investigate participants and visitors’ wares at the shuk, give feedback at the Board meeting, meet the Zeitler Fellows, etc.)
6:15 – Dinner
7:15 – Mincha /Ma’ariv Evening Services
8:00 – Evening Programs
10:00 – Late Night Happenings
Every day at the Summer Institute, participants lead each other in a different menu of spirited prayer options in many styles, including daily traditional egalitarian morning services with full Hebrew liturgy, plus meditative, movement, and musical services, with and without instruments, both indoors and outdoors, as well as mincha (afternoon) and maariv (evening) services. All minyanim organized and sponsored by the NHC are fully egalitarian, with equal participation regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
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. Courses cover a wide-range topics, including history, Bible, rabbinics, literature, contemporary issues, arts, music, and many more. Click here to view the 2020 list of courses!
One way in which we share ourselves with each other at the Summer Institute is through hour-long workshops that occur each morning and afternoon during the week. Anyone can propose a workshop, and it’s a great place to try out a new idea or experiment with teaching and leading. This is a great way to share something with our community. Workshops can be presented in any format that the teacher/facilitator can imagine, from discussion to hevruta/paired learning to lecture to shared activity (e.g., group run).
Each evening after dinner, the community gathers for programming as a large group. Some of these programs may be led by the Timbrel Artists in Residence, Hollander Social Justice Fellow, or the Liturgist in Residence. Some may be serious discussions of issues with which we want to engage as a community. Some will be lighter-hearted ways to connect – a talent show, a dance party.
The community that gathers for Summer Institute wants to make the most of our time together. Each evening after our large-group program, we offer other structured opportunities to enjoy each others’ company: making music, playing games, dancing, singing along to movie musicals, additional studying, and other sorts of merry-making. All participants can volunteer to lead a late-night program in their registration.
And whatever else you want to make happen!
Looking to make contact with folks from your home geography? Want to explore the themes of Harry Potter through a Jewish lens? Are you an early riser who wants to circumnavigate campus with others before breakfast? Seeking support for building your crochet or Torah reading skills? Need a haircut? Put up a notice about your interest and where and when others can meet up with you. We are the ones who build our community! We are the ones who decide what that looks like!
The Institute 2020 Core Planning Team
Glenda is grateful to be able to give back to this supportive community. In contrast to the vastness of census and election efforts in 2020, serving on the Core Team will be a cozy project with tangible benefits. She first came to NHC SI in 2016 at the recommendation of her beloved son, David Wilensky, but it has quickly become one of the high points of her year. Last year, they worked together to revamp the program guide, and she looks forward to continuing to improve communication to help every attendee find what they need during their time on campus.
Based in Austin, Texas, Glenda is using the free time that semi-retirement brings to travel throughout the US with her cockatoo, Calah. A long time activist, she continues to find new ways to make the world a better place in ways big and small, from speaking at state and local hearings to witnessing for migrants along the border.
Eliana Roberts Golding is overjoyed to be joining the Core Team for what she is pretty sure is her 28th NHC Summer Institute (and is grateful to her family for raising her in such an amazing community). She is so excited to work with the community to envision and create a week full of song, learning, song, nourishment, deep discussion, and did she mention song?
Eliana recently moved (back to) Washington DC where she works on local housing policy issues. Eliana can often be found riding her bike, at a pottery wheel, organizing with IfNotNow, or dreaming about the dog she can’t wait to adopt. She lives with her amazing partner Yael and two dear friends in Northwest DC, and would be delighted to host you for shabbes.
Rebecca is excited to be taking on a new role in her 6th year as a part of the NHC community! Rebecca first came to Institute as office staff, helping run things from behind the scenes, but found belonging and community from the very start–as if this community was something she had always been a part of; she just didn’t know it until she showed up! Rebecca spent the last several years as the Shuk Coordinator, and can’t wait to tackle this new challenge. Summer Institute is a week she looks forward to all year long, and she is thrilled to be a part of creating it this year!
Outside of NHC, Rebecca is a social worker in Boston, currently shifting from hospital social work to a group therapy practice, getting back to her roots. When taking needed time for herself, Rebecca loves traveling, spending time with friends and partners, being creative, jigsaw puzzles, and the beach. Come talk to me about your travels or where I should go next!