AM-04 – Cracking the Sefer Barrier: Breaking into Four Primary Jewish Texts
Jewish literacy has an extremely high barrier to entry. Classic texts are written in languages many readers don’t understand, and meanings are often hidden by lots of insider code.
This course will provide an introduction to four ancient classics in the Jewish library: the Hebrew Bible, the prayer book, the Talmud, and the Midrash. Each of them constitutes mini-libraries in their own right. We will begin by talking about how literary texts work, looking at genres, various methods of interpretation, assumptions brought to the text by readers, and the context of the Ancient Near East. We will look at selected texts in English, unriddle their secret codes, and learn how best to hear their ancient voices with modern ears.
AM-06 – Methodologies in Midrash-Making: Poetry, Movement, Bibliodrama, and Theater of the Oppressed
Bronwen Emilia Mullen
The rabbis used various methodologies to generate midrashim from Biblical exegesis. Participants will continue in these traditions via different creative media. From rewriting verses and individual words to playing word-association with Hebrew roots, we will use bibliodrama to interpret medieval commentaries, poetry, and the spoken word. We will utilize the methods of Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed to explore ways in which the themes of questioning, struggling, and journeying reflect and make an imprint on the challenges of our world and our times.
Bronwen Mullin is a playwright, composer, educator and rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She earned her B.A. at Sarah Lawrence College (2006) in Theater and Religious Studies and was Arts Fellow 2008-2011 in Musical Theater Composition at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education. Bronwen is the co-founder of MetaPhys-Ed, a gymnasium for the multi-media exegesis of Jewish texts with performance artist/director Jesse Freedman.
AM-09 – Three Legs or One Foot: Rebalancing Our Jewish Communities
We are taught that the world stands on a tripod of study, worship, and caring actions. When our communities run on the two legs of study and worship, the third leg of caring is often shortened. Yet the third leg is the only one that can support us “on one foot.” This week, as we stop to mourn our brokenness, we’ll seek the comfort of a new equilibrium that integrates kindness and justice. We’ll explore familiar junctures in the regular rhythms of learning and prayer that can be leveraged as “caring points” to build more balanced and inclusive communities.
AM-12 – Text and Interpretation: A Series of Journeys through Time
A tradition cannot be grasped simply by reading its sacred text, and certainly Jewish tradition requires, along with the Torah-text, serious understanding of the ongoing interpretation, which often transforms and gives new life to the text itself. That process of interpretation is an exciting story, often a process of highly creative, even radical, understanding of the literal text itself. We will examine, each day, a different kind of textual passage(s) from the Torah along with some representative and sometimes startling re-readings of the same passage. We will look at passages concerning law and society, cultic practices, the creation of light, and revelation.
PM-02 – Enter the Temple: Discovering the Inner Sanctum
Elyssa Joy Auster
Out of destruction comes transformation and the opportunity for wholeness. Tisha B’Av commemorates the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem, and other tragedies the Jewish people have experienced over centuries, yet it leaves the door open for something new. We will explore the joy and creativity that are released by breaking open through four paradigms: the Temple of the Body (Yoga), the Temple of Emotion (Meditation), the Temple of the Mind (Text Study), and the Temple of Beyond (Chanting).
PM-11 – Preparing to Do Teshuvah
Darius D. Sivin
This class will explore Rambam’s Laws of Teshuvah, a classic Jewish text, and Rabbi Alan Lew’s This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared, a modern work, influenced by Buddhism, about the spiritual practice of Teshuvah. Through chevruta study and class discussion, each student will develop a personal Teshuvah plan based on class materials and life experience.
Darius D. Sivin, PhD is an occupational health and safety professional with the United Auto Workers. Much of his work involves teaching health and safety to adults. His family belongs to Fabrangen Cheder where he led the adult discussion seminar for several years. He has studed at the NHC Institute and at the Jewish Study Center in Washington DC. He has developed his own spiritual practice of Teshuvah based on the works he will be presenting.