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Archive for the ‘jewish’ Category

Shalom Hartman Institute President Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, and SHI-North America President Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer recently taught at the launch of the third cohort of The Berrie Fellowship, a two-year intensive Jewish learning and leadership education program for a select cadre of leaders in Northern New Jersey.

The Hartman Institute is working closely to help develop the curriculum for this two-year program, which is funded by the Russell Berrie Foundation, and will include a week-long seminar in Jerusalem in July 2012 that will be taught by a faculty of SHI fellows.

To read more, click here.

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Rabbi Lauren Berkun, Shalom Hartman Institute Southeast Director of Educational Initiatives, has been invited to join President Barack Obama and a select group of Jewish politicians, business leaders, artists, athletes, veterans, and rabbis at a reception in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, which will be held at the White House on Tuesday May 17, 2011.

President Obama inaugurated this event last year and is this year continuing the tradition to “highlight and celebrate the history and unique identity of Jewish Americans and their profound and ennobling contributions to the American story,” according to the White House.

“I am looking forward to this interesting and exciting experience, which I believe will lend itself to reflection on the American Jewish experience,” commented Rabbi Berkun. The Shalom Hartman Institute congratulates Rabbi Berkun on this well deserved honor and looks forward to hearing her impressions.

Rabbi Lauren Berkun, Southeast Director of Educational Initiatives at theShalom Hartman Institute – North America, graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton University and was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2001.

Rabbi Berkun was a Wexner Graduate Fellow, a CLAL Rabbinic intern, and a Rabbinic Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute. She has served as the JTS Midwest KOLLOT Rabbinic Scholar, Director of Lifelong Learning at Congregation ShaareyZedek in Southfield, Michigan, and Scholar-in-Residence for the Women’s Department of Federation.

Rabbi Berkun has written and taught extensively on the topics of mikveh, sexual ethics, and body image. She is also a certified Sivananda yoga instructor and teaches seminars on Jewish meditation and Jewish mysticism.

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Donniel Hartman’s commentary on the “Rotem Conversion Bill” controversy, “Relationship of Israel and World Jewry Depends on Meaning, Not Claims of Necessity,” is receiving widespread attention in Israel and North America, including citations and reprints by The New York Times, Forward, and Ynet, among others:

Israel Puts Off Crisis Over Conversion Law (The New York Times, 23/07/2010)

Donniel was quoted in an article by The New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner on the subject:

“There is increasing discomfort among American Jews with Israel,” commented Rabbi Donniel Hartman, president of Jerusalem’s Shalom Hartman Institute, which is devoted to exploring Jewish issues. “This issue is a place where they can express the displeasure that they might not be willing to state on the flotilla and other political matters.”

For that reason, some here, even among those sympathetic to the Reform and Conservative movements, like Rabbi Hartman, feel that the American reaction to the Rotem bill was overly aggressive.

“They overstated this one,” he said.

Jewish Legitimacy (Forward, 21/07/2010)

In an editorial taking a contrarian view of the conversion bill uproar, the Forward excerpted Donniel’s most recent commentary: “Rabbi Donniel Hartman of the Shalom Hartman Institute, one of the saner voices during this emotional dispute, put it best: ‘It requires a commitment to Israel not as it is, but as it ought to be, and a willingness to invest in creating such an Israel.’ And, he wrote recently, ‘it requires a deep caring.’”

The Forward then went on to say: “To care deeply doesn’t obligate us to swear blind loyalty and suppress disagreement. But it doesn’t allow us to turn our backs, either. With all the worried talk about the demise of “liberal Zionism,” here is a chance for Jews in Israel and the Diaspora to resurrect its future.”

The Forward’s editorial was also reprinted on the influential blog, EJewishPhilanthropy.com

United or divided? (Jerusalem Post, 24/07/10)

The Jerusalem Post reprinted the original commentary by Donniel Hartman, which ran first on the Institute’s website.

A version in Hebrew was published on Ynet, the leading news website in Israel, on 25/07/2010. Click here for the Hebrew version.

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Israel’s image continues to take a beating. Just Wednesday, July 7, 2010, there was a report - widely repeated in the media and Twittersphere that Dustin Hoffman and Meg Ryan, two Hollywood A-list actors (well, maybe Meg is A- or B+ these days) had backed out of advanced negotiations designed to bring them to Israel for the upcoming Jerusalem Film Festival. The festival opens July 8, 2010. (Update: According to gojerusalem.com, French actor Jean Reno, star of the festival’s opening film, is planning to attend.)

The JTA offered a good analysis of the anti-Israel feeling and the delegitimization campaign(?) and cited a recent report by Tel Aviv’s Reut Institute that offered suggestions on how to combat it. The article also notes that the government hasn’t done anything like what the report calls for, and says other efforts, from “re-branding” Israel to quicker responses to breaking news, haven’t done much to combat the phenomenon, either.

That’s where the Hartman Institute’s Engaging Israel Project is looking to enter and change the debate. Engaging Israel is focused on bringing Jewish values to the dilemmas of nationhood. Panelists such as Donniel Hartman, Gil Troy, Yossi Klein Halevi, and others have already been writing about the project, even before it comes out with a final report or conclusions.

Hundreds have already signed up for emails updating the Panel’s progress. Sign up today and get on board and participate in the discussion.

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The Jerusalem Post editorializes today (10 May 2010) about the sorry state of Jewish education in Israeli schools:

Our founding fathers understood the centrality of the Bible to the Jewish people’s connection to the land. In 1937, for instance, David Ben-Gurion told the British Peel Commission, saddled with the job of ending conflict the between Jews and Arabs, that the Bible was “the Jewish people’s mandate” for the land of Israel.

Israel policy makers, educators and IDF commanders have come to appreciate the strong correlation between a solid Jewish education and patriotism. Religious convictions aside, without a strong Jewish identity, Israeli citizens cannot be expected to make the necessary sacrifices demanded of them in a Jewish state surrounded by enemies. Nor can they hope to create an original Jewish culture.

But despite the appreciation for Jewish learning and Jewish identity, the reality today is far from ideal. Just two hours a week of Bible studies are required by the Education Ministry. According to minutes from a Knesset Education Committee meeting in March, many secular state schools teach even less, sometimes as little as one semester during all of the last three years of high school.

Then the Post goes on to praise private-government initiatives in Israel, including the Hartman Institute’s Be’eri program (although, sadly, it doesn’t mention Be’eri by name):

…privately funded initiatives such as TALI, a Hebrew acronym for Tigbur Limudei Yahadut (enhanced Jewish studies), and the Hartman Institute are filling the vacuum, proving once again that private initiative always beats state-funded projects.

TALI, with an annual budget of just under $2 million, funded principally by North American Jews, works in cooperation with 40,000 families and hundreds of teachers to introduce a pluralistic, liberal version of Judaism and prayer into the secular state school system on the preschool and elementary school level, while Hartman works with 50 junior high and high schools.

That final reference to Hartman, is, of course, to the Be’eri program. Be’eri does have government backing and the educational curricula are endorsed by the Education Ministry, but the program does have significant private backing, as well.

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Has there ever been a more contentious time in Jerusalem than now? Or is that a joke? It has always been the most contentious time in Jerusalem: invaders, occupants, takeovers, fences, walls, barbed wire, combat, fire, and more are in the earthly history of Jerusalem.

Yet now, while we hope and pray there is never again a shooting war in Jerusalem, is a particularly contentious time where the future of Jerusalem as an earthly and spiritual city, as well as the capital(s?) of state(s?) is under heated discussion. It seems that every apartment built, every synagogue reopened, every road/street repair causes someone to get agitated, from the President of the United States to the lowliest local resident. I do not mean to equate all of these concerns; some are clearly more serious on a global, political, and spiritual basis than others. But it does make for lively discussion when the city’s Mayor is snubbed by the White House and the Interior Minister is invited.

Herein, then, in advance of this year’s Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day – May 12, 2010)  are several articles and essays by Hartman Institute scholars on this city of many faiths, many constituents, and residents:

One Mount, Two Religions, Three Proposals

A set of surprising suggestions and recommendations for how to address perhaps the most argued over spot on Earth: the Temple Mount/Har Habayit/Haram Ash-Sharif/Mount Moriah/Noble Sanctuary from Hartman Institute’s Menachem Fisch, Israel Knohl, and Elhanan Reiner.

Professor Israel Knohl relates to the partial fulfillment of Yeshayahu’s vision; Professor Elhanan Reiner explains the idea behind aliyah le’regel; and Professor Menachem Fisch explains that the holiness of place is not connected to ownership.

Donniel Hartman: Divide Jerusalem to unite it

Jerusalem must be a divided city – divided among all aspects and ideologies of Israeli society, for only as a divided city can it be united as the capital of all Israelis. Jerusalem must be a safe city – safe for all expressions of Jewishness.

Jerusalem will achieve this only when we recognize that the city is no one’s unless it is all of ours, and when there is a new spirit in which we all actively pursue public policies that give room and respect for us all, not only our personal agendas.

Donniel Hartman: This summer in Jerusalem – heat and holiness

Jerusalem is not just the place where we convene; it is the place that enables the convention. It is in this capacity that I experienced the holiness of Jerusalem, a holiness which fosters respect, loyalty, and mutual consideration. May this be the Jerusalem we all get to experience, for this is when Jerusalem is truly a city of gold.

Rani Yaeger: Heavenly Jerusalem, Earthly Jerusalem

Forty one years after the reunification of the city’s east and west, it is time to unify heavenly Jerusalem and earthly Jerusalem. We must temper our veneration with criticism, and our criticism with veneration, neither glorifying the city so much we cannot see her flaws, nor deploring her so much we have no desire to correct them. Only once we stop loving Jerusalem from afar, once we eradicate the barriers of idealized images and disappointed dreams, will the 2,000-year exile from the city really come to an end. Only then will Jerusalem become our home.

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Holy Living in Human Bodies: 2010 Edward Bronfman Family Foundation Annual Lecture at Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem, Israel. Part of the 2010 International Theology Conference, January 2010. Speakers were Dr. Melila Hellner-Eshed, Shalom Hartman Institute, Prof. Rusmir Mahmutehaji, University of Sarajevo, President, International Forum Bosnia, and Rev. David M. Neuhaus, SJ, Vicar for the Hebrew and Russian-speaking Catholic communities in Israel, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Opening remarks were made by Rabbi Prof. David Hartman. The moderator was Dr. Hami Verbin, Shalom Hartman Institute.

The Hartman Institute gratefully acknowledges the Bronfman family for supporting this annual initiative.

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