The past year has brought with it tremendous loss and uncertainty. On a personal and communal level, many of us find ourselves grieving very tangible losses: the loss of life above all, the loss of financial security, and the loss of the intimacy of in-person relationships. At the same time, we find ourselves mourning abstract but very real losses: the loss of the world we once knew, the loss of a sense of security, the loss of normalcy. Throughout the ages, the Jewish people have experienced significant downfalls and periods of great adversity from the flood that nearly destroyed the world to the destruction of the Temple to the Holocaust, an unprecedented time of darkness and despair. And, yet each time, the Jewish people drew on wellsprings of resilience to not only continue on but to continue forward, rebuilding for the next generation.
In this four-session course, we’ll look to our own tradition, focusing on narratives from the Torah as well as the events of Jewish history to mine our texts for wisdom on resilience. We’ll ask: what are the different shapes resilience takes and how might we cultivate our own capacity for resilience based on the wisdom of Jewish tradition?
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Rabbi Ethan Tucker
Not eating food in the same way as everyone else has been one of the central markers of Jewish identity for millennia. But many core questions about this practice of Kashrut remain open. Why do we keep Kosher in the first place? What is in our food and how do we know? What about how the food is prepared? Does it matter who prepared it? Who do we trust to prepare food that we can eat? How do we apply these ancient sources on what we can and can't eat in a modern world with abundant soap, dishwashers, and stainless steel?
These 10-sessions are a whirlwind tour through the theoretical and the practical, the whys, whats, and hows of keeping Kosher in an overwhelmingly non-Kosher world.
Jon Adam Ross
People sitting around campfires telling stories: it's the most ancient of human behaviors. The tradition of that behavior is alive and well especially at summer camp. In cabins, at flagpoles, and even, yes around campfires, stories get told and retold. Similarly, Jewish tradition brings with it a long legacy of storytelling: the telling of Torah. These stories get told and retold, usually as part of religious services in houses of worship.
This course attempts to combine the human and Jewish traditions of telling and retelling stories by re-imagining the morality tales of the Torah as stories that could be told at camp and used as tools for a variety of teachable moments. You will learn four 'new' stories, each inspired by a passage from the Torah but retold for young, modern ears. And you will get to unpack the process of how these stories were told and interpreted, and apply your own voice to that process.
Perfect for use at camp and other educational settings! Great for educators of small children and people who use storytelling regularly in their lives.
This is a 4-session course.
Is there a right way to question authority? Should I speak out on every issue or choose my battles? What role should shame and humiliation play? When can I leverage power-dynamics, and when should I just keep quiet? In this 10-session course we will explore Jewish stories where our ancestors pushed back on the authority of their government and society, of their own Jewish leadership and even of God.
This course was inspired by the book Why Be Jewish? by Edgar Bronfman.
This course was made in partnership between Project Zug and Samuel Bronfman Foundation. The course was inspired Edgar Bronfman’s book, Why Be Jewish? which can be purchased on Amazon.
Parenting young children, while often a blessing, can sometimes be an isolating experience. Now and then, we all need to talk to another grown-up. This course was created in partnership between Project Zug and Kveller to offer parents a way to meet and connect (digitally, or in person) through exploring what it means to be a Jewish parent.
This 4-session course uses text-study as a mode to explore the multiple demands and values that are constantly tugging at Jewish parents. What from your own parent(s) are you trying to pass on to your kids? When should you prioritize yourself over your kids? What does it meant to raise a child as Jewish?
The course was created by Rabbi Avi Killip, Kveller reader, mom to two young children, and Director of Project Zug at Mechon Hadar.
The Jewish people have long been called the People of the Book, a fitting name given our deep love for the Jewish textual tradition. For hundreds of years, we've pored over the same sacred texts in an attempt to unlock their wisdom, understand their relevance, and take part in a dialogue and debate that spans generations. Yet, it can be difficult to enter into this conversation without having a good sense of what these foundational books are, how they work, and how to best bring them into our own libraries and lives.
In this course, we'll take a close look at the essential core texts that make up the Jewish Bookshelf beginning with the Torah. In the course of our study, we will learn not only what these texts are and how they work but we'll use them as an entryway into conversations about creation in the Torah, self-defense in rabbinic texts, and revelation through the eyes of modern thinkers.
How do we define prosperity? What material and non-material goods are needed for a meaningful, fulfilling life? This course will explore a variety of traditional and non-traditional sources that engage the question of our relationship to money, happiness, and the good life.
This course was created in collaboration with Limmud, based on material collected by Limmud Galil for Limmud's Chavruta Project.
Rabbi Yedidya (Julian) Sinclair
Shmita, the biblical, agricultural seven year cycle, is arguably the most under-appreciated idea in Judaism. It embodies profoundly relevant values of socio-economic equality, environmental sustainability and societal renewal. Yet, in recent decades the public face of shmita has emerged in increasingly bitter disputes about kashrut certification in Israel.
This shmita year 2014-15, however, is already proving to be different. A network of rabbis, educators, social activists, environmentalists and business people spanning Israel and the Diaspora are recovering the values of shmita and finding creative ways to express them in the public sphere.
This course will explore some of the foundational texts and values of shmita, seek to understand a little of the history of shmita since the return of Jewish agricultural pioneers to Israel in the 1880s and attempt to envision new possibilities for shmita in the coming decades. This course is offered in partnership with Hazon.
Avraham smashing the idols, Vashti sprouting a tail, and the very fact that the Torah was created 974 generations before creation. Many of the stories Jews (and other readers of scripture) tell about the characters in Tanakh are not found there, but are contained in a large body of literature called Midrash.
How did Midrash come to be, and how old is it? How do practitioners of midrash decide what stories to tell, and did they actually think they were part of scripture?
In this course we learn the tools of learning midrash as a sophisticated and rich method of reading scripture, from its beginnings to the eighth century, but mostly through conversations on and close readings of "classical midrash," redacted in 4th century Palestina/Eretz Israel.
**This course is going to take an academic look at how midrash is structured. If you have experience learning midrash and have always wondered how it "works," this is the course for you. This course will not be an intro to midrashic stories.**
Rabbi Shai Held
Jews often take great comfort in reciting chapters of Tehillim (psalms), but we rarely study them carefully. In these sessions, we will explore the religious world of the book of Psalms.
Through close literary and theological readings of an array of Psalms—reflecting diverse genres, moods, experiences, and emotions—we will deepen our understanding of the texts and the worldviews they express. We'll encounter texts that are theologically profound, spiritually audacious, and literarily breathtaking. Along the way, we'll consider what it means to pray a text as opposed to merely reading or studying it.