To our members and friends,
I now have completed my fourth year of working as the National Scholar of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals. It has been an honor and privilege working to promote our vision nationwide primarily through teaching and teacher training, and also through writing and internet classes. This report summarizes my various projects and activities over the past year.
My major areas of focus have been:
· Teacher Training:
o One of our central goals is to train rabbis and educators to spread our vision of Torah to schools and communities. We build bridges with people in the field to work together, and have a greater impact on students and communities across the country and beyond.
o I taught a course to Honors Rabbinical students at Yeshiva University, on Teaching Bible in Synagogues. The success of this course, which began in 2012, has made it a regular feature of the Honors Rabbinical program.
o I have been working regularly with the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (CHAT), doing teacher trainings in person and also serving as a resource for their entire Bible faculty as they develop a new curriculum.
o I participate annually at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah’s Bible Study days in June.
· Community Education:
o There is a serious thirst for the kind of learning represented by our Institute, and a sizable number of communities have invited me to give individual lectures, Shabbat scholar-in-residence programs, and classes in Tanakh and Religious Philosophy. Through a combination these programs, we reach thousands of adults directly each year.
o Most frequently, I served in my capacity of Rabbinic Scholar at Kehilath Jeshurun. This involved speaking in the KJ Sephardic minyan weekly and giving regular classes in KJ, including a survey of the entire Bible, a History at Home series in Great Biblical Scandals, and running symposia co-sponsored by the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.
o In October, I gave the annual Levy Lecture at Queens College.
o In January, I spoke at Citi Field as part of the Orthodox Union’s “Torah in the City” convention. Approximately 1500 people attended the convention.
o In February-March, I gave a six-part series as part of the Yeshiva University Community Beit Midrash program.
o In May, I was the keynote scholar at the Chicago Board of Rabbis learning convention.
o In addition to the many weekday classes and programs, it was gratifying to visit communities as a Shabbat or Yom Tov scholar-in-residence in Thornhill, Ontario; New York, NY; Palo Alto, California; and Teaneck, New Jersey.
o This year, I published two books:
o Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi: Prophecy in an Age of Uncertainty (Jerusalem: Maggid, 2016). In March, I was featured on the radio show, “Rabbi Wechsler Teaches” to discuss this book.
o Increasing Peace Through Balanced Torah Study. Conversations 27 (New York: Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, 2017). This book contains essays that lie at the heart of the Institute’s religious ideology. We have distributed it to communities across the country, including communities that invite me to be a scholar in residence.
o I have begun working on a new collection of essays on Bible, focusing on the interaction between tradition and academic methods of study.
I thank the co-sponsors of the two books, who made their publication and distribution possible.
For Haggai-Zechariah-Malachi: Levy Family Foundation, Sephardic Publication Foundation.
Thank you also to those with whom I have learned Torah who contributed: Linda and Shlomo Brody; Margy and Perry Davis; Faith Fogelman; Simon Gerson; Simone and Elias Hannema; Joseph Jerome; Joel Marcus; Jane Mushabac; Judy Nadelson; Ron Platzer; Bina Presser; Gideon and Shara Schor; Karen and Roy Simon; Joan Weber; and several others who wished to remain anonymous.
For Conversations 27: S. Daniel Abraham; Joshua Angel; in memory of his wife, Rita Angel; Bengualid Family Foundation in memory of Sylvia Knafou Bengualid; Marco Dilaurenti; Levy Family Foundation in memory of Leon and Elsi Levy; Alan and Kathleen Shamoon; Ronald and Adele Tauber; Sephardic Publication Foundation.
· Internet Learning:
o We have significantly expanded our Online Learning section on our website, https://www.jewishideas.org//online-learning.
Below is an itemized listing of the various classes and programs I have given over the past year in my capacity as National Scholar of the Institute.
· June 19-20: Three lectures at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Annual Bible study days.
· June 28: Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto teacher training.
· July 7-28: Four-part mini-series at Lamdeinu, Teaneck.
· September 14-28: Three-part mini-series at Lamdeinu, Teaneck.
· September 23-24: Shabbat scholar-in-residence at BAYT in Thornhill, Ontario.
· October 27: Annual Levy Lecture at Queens College.
· November 12: History at Home Lecture at Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan.
· December 17: History at Home Lecture at Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan.
· January 14: History at Home Lecture at Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan.
· January 15: Lecture at the Orthodox Union’s Torah in the City at Citi Field.
· January-April: Ten-part series for Honors Rabbinical Students on Teaching Bible in Synagogues.
· February-March: Six-part series for Yeshiva University’s Community Beit Midrash.
· February-March: Six-part series at Lamdeinu, Teaneck.
· March 5: Guest on Rabbi Wechsler Teachers radio show.
· March 10-11: Shabbat scholar-in-residence at the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue in New York City.
· March 31-April 1: Shabbat scholar-in-residence at Congregation Emek Beracha in Palo Alto, California.
· April 6: Lecture at New York University.
· May 15-22: Two-part mini-series at Lamdeinu, Teaneck.
· May 17: Guest scholar at the annual Kallah of the Chicago Board of Rabbis.
· May 30-31: Two Shavuot lectures at Congregation Ohr Saadya, Teaneck, New Jersey.
· October-May: Seventeen Lectures surveying the Bible at Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan.
I also continue to teach courses to advanced undergraduates at Yeshiva University, something I have done since 1996. This past year, I taught for the first time a course on the opportunities and challenges that arise from the interface of traditional and academic Bible study. I look forward to bringing elements of that course into future teacher trainings and scholar-in-residence weekends across the country.
Thank you all for your support and enthusiasm, and I look forward to promoting our Torah vision for many years to come.
Rabbi Hayyim Angel
Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals