Archive for the ‘Education’ 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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The inaugural Shalom Hartman Institute Rabbinic Leadership Initiative (RLI) Alumni Retreat was held in Malibu, CA at the end of January. Alumni of the first three RLI cohorts joined SHI faculty members Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi and Prof. Israel Knohl to study the topic of Covenant and its contemporary challenges and applications and to rejuvenate the bonds they had formed with one another.

Upon returning home from this enriching study retreat, Rabbi Mark S. Diamond, executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and a graduate of the third RLI cohort, wrote the following Dvar Torah, reflecting on the importance of Hartman and the RLI experience in his professional and personal development.

“Where do rabbis go to recharge their spiritual and intellectual batteries? Jerusalem…New York….Los Angeles…Malibu.  Yes, Malibu, site of the inaugural alumni study retreat of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America.

I was privileged to help organize this January 23-26 conclave at the Steven Breuer Conference Center on the campus of Wilshire Boulevard Temple Camps. Hartman senior rabbinic fellows/alumni of the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative (RLI) gathered from across the United States and Canada for text study and roundtable forums led by Prof. Israel Knohl (Hebrew University/Shalom Hartman Institute), Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi (Hartman Institute) and Rabbi Ed Feinstein, senior rabbi of Valley Beth Shalom, Encino.  The Jewish Federation/Board of Rabbis enjoy a longstanding partnership with Jerusalem’s Shalom Hartman Institute. Joining me at the retreat were Los Angeles friends and colleagues Rabbis Morley T. Feinstein, Judith HaLevy, Sherre Hirsch, and Michelle Missaghieh.  All of us are alumni of the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative and were sponsored by the Jewish Federation. As we and our fellow RLI alumni convened in southern California, Board of Rabbis leaders Rabbis Denise L. Eger, Stewart Vogel, and Ken Chasen were on their way to Jerusalem for the winter seminar of RLI 4.

What is so special about these gatherings?  Rabbis sit together and study texts with colleagues from diverse congregations, movements and communities. We read and discuss Torah and rabbinic sources havruta-style, in small groups of two to three learners who model this hallmark of traditional Jewish study. We mine sources of wisdom—Jewish and non-Jewish, ancient and modern—under the tutelage of brilliant scholars and master teachers from Israel and America. We debate the most pressing issues of contemporary Jewish life with creative and talented thinkers and leaders of synagogues and other Jewish communal institutions. We “let down our hair” and share the joys, frustrations, and challenges of our profession, even as we renew old friendships and forge new ones.

One day of the retreat was set aside to share these experiences with a broader circle of colleagues. Area rabbis joined us for “A Day of Hartman Learning” featuring havruta study, Prof. Knohl’s provocative session “Joining the Covenantal Community: The Question of Conversion from a Biblical Perspective,” and Rabbi Dr. Sabath Beit-Halachmi’s timely presentation “Engaging Israel: Foundations for a New Relationship.”  Welcoming colleagues to the seminar, I spoke about the strong bonds between southern California and the Hartman Institute, including the Federation’s sponsorship of RLI and the Mickey Weiss Fellowship that sends rabbis each summer to Hartman’s Rabbinic Torah Seminar.  I acknowledged the profound effect the Hartman Institute has had on my own rabbinate, observing that the day’s passionate learning and discourse were “a taste of olam haba (the world to come).”

And I referenced this week’s Torah reading—parashat Mishpatim, the portion that immediately follows the revelation at Mount Sinai. Towards the end of the parashah, we learn: “Moses took the record of the covenant and read it aloud to the people. And they said, kol asher deebayr Ado-nai na-aseh veh-nishmah. “All that God has spoken we will do and we will hear” (Exodus 24:7-8).

Some 3,200 years after our forebears proclaimed na-aseh veh-nishmah, we live in a world of “Been there. . .done that.”  We are ever on the lookout for new thrills and adventures to make our lives whole and complete. Looking back on thirty-two centuries of Jewish life, we can say with pride: We’ve been there, and we’ve done that. For our tradition places a premium on finding joy and meaning doing the same things over and over again. Things like–learning Torah each day; keeping Shabbat each week; celebrating holidays each year.

I believe that our challenge is to make each experience more meaningful and spiritually satisfying than the previous one. We should uncover a fresh insight each time we open up a sacred text. We should discover a new tune for a family Shabbat celebration or a new custom to incorporate into our own fabric of Jewish living.

Rav Kook taught: “What is holy must be renewed and what is new must be made holy.” This is the raison d’être of the Board of Rabbis, the Jewish Federation, and the Shalom Hartman Institute. These are my spiritual and intellectual gifts from the rabbinic study retreat. Na-aseh veh-nishmah. May we always be a people of doing and hearing. May we create and recreate new melodies of meaning as we celebrate together the majestic symphony of Jewish life.”

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The MetroWest New Jersey community is the site of a unique adult education opportunity. Three local rabbis, all of whom have participated in a Shalom Hartman Institute rabbinic leadership program have teamed up to bring Hartman ideas to their congregations in the form of an eight session course based on the first volume of the Hartman DVD Lecture Study Series. The big news is that in true Hartman spirit, this initiative was spearheaded by three rabbis representing different denominations in the MetroWest community–Rabbis Menashe East of the Mount Freedom Jewish Center (Modern Orthodox), David Nesson of the Morristown Jewish Center (Conservative), and Amy Small of Congregation Beth Hatikvah (Reconstructionist)–that decided to bring a powerful learning experience to the entire MetroWest community .  

Volume I of the Hartman DVD Lecture Series entitled: “Leadership and Crisis: Jewish Resources and Responses” draws upon centuries of Jewish scholarship—from biblical sources to Holocaust literature—to shape a uniquely Jewish response to the significant challenges posed by current geopolitical and economic realities. Lecturers in the series include Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi , Dr. Micah Goodman, and Dr. Melila Hellner-Eshed.

Rabbi Amy Small comments, “The MetroWest community learning program is based on the collaboration of three colleagues of different ideological perspectives. Our goal is to model pluralism for our entire community, while offering an opportunity for people of different backgrounds to learn from and with each other and with us.  We hope the initiative sets the stage for further opportunities of this nature.”

Rabbi Menashe East agrees that the course is an opportunity for a “community-wide Beit Midrash,” and adds that it is also a chance for bridge-building with Israel. “We so often focus on standing alongside Israel for its security and political stability, and don’t usually take enough time to speak about how brilliant and creative the learning and scholarship going on there is. For the American Jewish community, exposure to the incredible luminaries of Jewish thought at Hartman is a real gift.”

Click here for background information on the Engaging Israel: Foundations for a New Relationship lecture series.

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October fourth marked the beginning of orientation for the members of the sixth cohort of the Shalom Hartman Institute Melamdim program–designed to develop a new generation of outstanding North American Jewish studies high school teachers. Ten exceptional graduate students were chosen from a highly selective pool of applicants, to undergo intensive training in the philosophical foundations of Judaism and the pedagogical skills required to turn Jewish high school education into a transformative experience.

Attracting participants of diverse backgrounds and from all streams of Judaism, the rigorous two-year Melamdim program exposes these future teachers of all denominations to the highest levels of SHI learning, while simultaneously providing them with the opportunity to earn a Master’s degree in Judaic studies at the Tel Aviv University.

Orientation week kicked off with an introduction by Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman on the vision of the Hartman Institute and the Melamdim School of Teacher Education. This was followed with an introduction by Rabbi Phil Field, Melamdim program director, on the unique educational philosophy of the Hartman Institute.

A large part of the Melamdim curriculum consists of familiarizing participants with the richness and complexity of Israel’s cultural and political life. After having their first in-depth look at the Tel Aviv University, the cohort went on to explore the city of Tel Aviv, and to consider its role as a diverse microcosm of Israeli society. This theme was viewed through the lens of such significant issues as the development and history of Zionism and the current refugee crisis in south Tel Aviv.

A full day tour exploring a variety of educational models for different populations in Israel began with Yemin Orde, a residential village of 500 economically deprived new immigrants from countries throughout the world, and on to Michve Alon, an educational army base dedicated to training and improving the citizen skills of a broad array of new immigrants as an entry gate to Israeli society.

The tour concluded with an examination of high school education in the Arab Muslim community of Abu Gosh, presenting an opportunity to learn about alternative models of education within Israeli society. 

The full educational program of Melamdim is scheduled to begin on Sunday, October 17, in conjunction with Tel Aviv University.


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בשעה טובה ומוצלחת נפתחה בשבוע שעבר שנת הלימודים בבתי ספר התיכוניים של מכון שלום הרטמן —בית הספר לבנים על שם צ’רלס סמית  והמדרשיה לבנות. בימים קצרים ואינטנסיביים אלו, רגע לפני כסה ועשור, מקדישים בבתי הספר זמן רב להכנה משמעותית לחגים. שיעורי בית המדרש מוקדשים ללימוד מעמיק של תפילות, רעיונות, ערכים, הלכות ומנהגים, הקשורים בחגי תשרי.

במדרשיה, שנת הלימודים התחילה עם פעילות חגיגית ומגבשת לכל 300 בנות בית הספר ו-65 אנשי צוות. תוך שעתיים של עבודה מאומצת ובשיתוף פעולה של תלמידות ומורים, הועלתה על במת בית הספר הפקה שלא הייתה מביישת אף תיאטרון. הבנות התחלקו לקבוצות על פי תחומי עניין וכשרון, והכינו במהירות תפאורה ותלבושות, קטעי נגינה ושירה, ריקודים ומחולות, סצנות משחק ואף פרולוג ואפילוג למחזה. “מששולבו הקטעים השונים על הבמה, נוצרה יצירה שלימה ומגוונת, הבנויה מכוחות היצירה של הבנות, אשר החליפו תפקידים בין שחקניות לקהל צופה. לבד מהנאה מרובה, נלמדו כמה דברים על יכולות אישיות, על שיתוף פעולה, ועל חיוניותה ומרכזיותה של כל אחת מאיתנו לבניית התמונה השלימה של בית הספר,” מסבירה מירב בדיחי, מנהלת המדרשיה.

ערב ראש השנה צוין בבית ספר לבנים במבצע חלוקת סלי מזון לכ-400 משפחות נזקקות. חלוקת סלי המזון החלה לפני כחמש שנים כאשר החליטו תלמידי שכבת יב’ דאז להרים פרויקט למען אוכלוסיה נזקקת ברחבי העיר. התלמידים החלו בגיוס כספים, אוכל, ומתנדבים ויצרו קשר עם לשכות הרווחה בבקשה להמלצות על משפחות הזקוקות לסיוע. “התלמידים אחראיים על כל שלבי החלוקה, החל בהזמנת ירקות מהירקן, קניית עופות וחלות בסופר, סידור המזון בארגזים, תיאום עם מורים והורים שיסיעו את החבילות, והסעת סלי המזון לביתם של המשפחות יחד עם הנהגים,” מתאר ביני מאיר, רכז חברתי בבית הספר לבנים.

את 393 תלמידי תיכון הבנים מלמדים 85 חברי סגל, שהוותיק מביניהם מלמד בבית ספר מאז היווסדו, לפני 25 שנה. “המרגש מכל הוא שלאחר 25 שנה בוגרי התיכון החלו לשלוח את ילדיהם לבית הספר,” אומרת אריאל בראון האמונה על תכנון הארוע. “תחושת ההמשכיות הזו בוודאי תורגש היטב במפגש ענק לכ”ג מחזורים של בוגרי תיכון הרטמן אשר יתקיים באסרו חג סוכות (1 אוקטובר 2010) בשעה 9:30-12:30 במכון ברחוב גדליהו אלון 11, מושבה הגרמנית, ירושלים. לבוגרי תיכון הרטמן, מורים ואנשי צוות בעבר ובהווה יצטרפו משפחות הבוגרים — על נשיהם וטפם”.  פרטים מלאים ועדכונים ניתן למצוא באתר ביה”ס הרטמן ובפייסבוק.

ואם בסוכות עסקינן, איפה היינו בסוכות ללא ארבעת המינים? תלמידי בית הספר דואגים שלא תצטרכו לדאוג. מכירת ערכות ארבעת המינים החלה וכל ההכנסות קודש לצדקה. פרטים בפייסבוק (ארבעת המינים לצדקה-הרטמן). כדי לשמור על התרוממות רוח בעת הרכישה תתקיים חוויה לכל המשפחה לקראת החג שתכלול הפעלות, דוכני אוכל, ועוד. האירוע יתקיים ביום שני, י”ב תשרי בין השעות 15:00-19:00 בשטח ביה”ס.

חג שמח וגמר חתימה טובה.


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In September 2009 the Shalom Hartman Institute  released the pilot volume of its DVD lecture series — “Leadership and Crisis: Jewish Resources and Responses.” Developed based on the invaluable experience gained from the highly successful Hartman Global Beit Midrash, the DVD series brings the excellence of Hartman Torah to lay leaders in synagogues and organizations, rabbinic students, teachers and principals in Jewish community day schools, Hillel leadership on university campuses, and private study groups.

Partnering with world-renowned Hartman Institute faculty, these local scholars and educators together with the study groups that they lead, enjoy an intensive study experience geared at enhancing their knowledge and equipping them with the resources required to confidently address and respond to key questions facing the Jewish people and contemporary society.

Response from participants and rabbinic leaders was very clear: “WE WANT MORE” – so our team got to work.

Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi

Introducing the recently released volume II, entitled “The ‘Other’ in Jewish Tradition: Challenges and Opportunities,” Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, VP of the SHI North America Israel Department and director of the DVD lecture series volumes, shared a few comments with us.

Q: What makes the “Other” an especially relevant theme in North America today?

Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi: “One of the most important challenges facing the Jewish people today is the challenge of identity in a contemporary context.
“Two major phenomena highlight the relevance and urgency of the themes studied in this volume necessitating a better understanding of the role of the ‘Other’ in the Jewish world. These are increased fundamentalism in the religious world on the one hand, and often diluted religious identity in the postmodern world on the other.


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Summer at the Shalom Hartman Institute is always a new adventure: suddenly the peaceful campus in the heart of Jerusalem is flooded with hundreds of visitors from overseas. Rabbis, lay leaders, Christian leaders, and scholars from around the world join some of the finest minds in the Jewish world for a few weeks of intensive study. This summer our guests learned with David Hartman, Donniel Hartman, Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Micah Goodman, Melila Helner-Eshed, Moshe Halbertal, Israel Knohl, and the list goes on.

The theme around which this summer’s programming revolved was “Engaging Israel.” This new project at the Shalom Hartman Institute is designed to re-conceptualize the enduring significance of Israel for contemporary Jewry around the world. “Engaging Israel” aims to equip Jews with an internal, quintessentially Jewish values vocabulary to define and articulate why Israel and Zionism can be fundamental to their Judaism.

The summer kicked off with the International Philosophy Conference in late June, which draws world-renowned philosophers to the Institute each summer. The lecture of internationally acclaimed social scientist Michael Walzer, entitled “The State of Israel: What it Means to Be Sovereign” was open to the public and ended the conference with a bang.

One of the high points of the summer was the July 6th graduation of the third Rabbinic Leadership Initiative (RLI) cohort. A three-year program for North American community rabbis of all denominations, RLI provides participants with the opportunity to immerse themselves  in the richness and depth of Jewish learning, while honing the skills required to enrich their communities with what they have discovered. Through the leadership of its graduates, RLI has impacted an estimated half-million Jews in North America so far. The graduation keynote address was delivered by Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Jewish Agency.

The barrage of Hartman programming continued throughout July:


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