To our members and friends: I extend best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year. Shalom al Yisrael, and shalom on all good people everywhere who promote peace and understanding.
With the holiday season approaching, we consider new beginnings. The newly created position of National Scholar enables the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals to bring classes and special programs to communities, college campuses, and the wider public through publications and the internet. Response thus far from Institute members and from the communities I have visited has been most gratifying. There is a deeply felt sense that the vision represented by our Institute is relevant and necessary for the spiritual health and growth of the Jewish community.
Thank you to those who support the work of the Institute—we are spreading our wings more than ever before and can do so because of the community-wide support of our members. Here is what is coming up for the fall: · We are nearing the final editing stage of a Synagogue Companion with commentary on the Torah, Haftarot, and the Shabbat morning prayer service. This volume will contain short pieces—generally 300-500 words each, to deliver meaningful content to people of all backgrounds.
The Institute will publish this volume in January 2014, and will distribute it to Institute members and to synagogues across the country. If you are interested in contributing toward the publication of this volume, please contact me no later than October 1 for co-sponsorship and dedication opportunities. [email protected]. ·
One of my major projects over the summer has been the development of a lecture series on the religious philosophy of our Institute. Through a series of lectures in Manhattan (we are currently working on time and location, and will let you know), and a number of lectures elsewhere, we will explore several central topics that impact on contemporary Jewish life. Our goal is to create a faithful, expansive worldview that incorporates great rabbinic voices from throughout history and from all over the Jewish world. This series, along with my ongoing teaching of Bible, will play a major role in my teaching in Manhattan and in different communities and campuses throughout the country over the next couple of years.
Here are some upcoming lectures that I will be giving. They are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted. ·
Stanley Rudoff Memorial Lecture at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education (37 West 65th Street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan), “Introduction to Kohelet: confronting religious challenges.” Tuesday, September 10, 7:30-9:00 pm. ·
Lecture for a Book Reception for a new commentary by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik on the Torah: Chumash Mesorat HaRav: Chumash with Commentary Based on the Teachings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. This project was sponsored by pillars of our Institute, Stephen and Nataly Neuwirth. The event will be held at the Young Israel of New Rochelle, Sunday October 6, 9:30 am. Books will be available for purchase. ·
Queens College Annual Sephardic Lecture, “A Sephardic Approach to Tradition and Modernity: Its Value to Us All,” Wednesday October 9, 7:30-8:30 pm.
Sponsored by our member, Mrs. Elsi Levy. · Scholar-in-Residence, Congregation Chovevei Tzion in Chicago, Shabbat December 6-7. This weekend will combine themes in Bible and a Sephardic philosophy. Reservations are through Cong. Chovevei Tzion. ·
Weekly classes in the Book of Judges at Lincoln Square Synagogue (68th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan).
Wednesdays from 7:15-8:15 pm from October 16-December 18 (except for November 27). There are sponsorship opportunities available (suggested sponsorship: $360). For more information contact Ms. Elana Stein-Hain, [email protected]. ·
A course on “How to Teach Bible in Synagogues” to the Graduate Program for Women in Advanced Talmudic Study at Stern College for Women (Yeshiva University). The goal is to train these elite students how to serve more effectively as scholars-in-residence or as future synagogue professionals. This is for students in the Graduate Program only.
Here are several other projects that I've been working on: ·
Reprinting my first collection of biblical studies, Through an Opaque Lens, as an electronic book (with Kodesh Press). The goal is to bring this project to fruition and then do the same for the next two collections, Revealed Texts, Hidden Meanings and Creating Space between Peshat and Derash. ·
Working with the Aleph Beta Academy (alephbeta.org) to develop online classes that survey the Bible.
Thank you for your support and encouragement, and I look forward to building this vision with you and the broader community in the coming year and beyond. Shanah tovah.
I welcome your ideas and suggestions. Please feel free to contact me at [email protected]. To join the Institute, to contribute, or to learn more about our work, please go to our website, www.jewishideas.org.
National Scholar, Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals