Archive for the ‘Rabbinic Programs’ Category

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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For the first time in its history, Shalom Hartman Institute Rabbinic Leadership alumni will gather for an Alumni Study Retreat. The inaugural Rabbinic Leadership Institute Alumni Study Retreat will be held from January 23-26, 2011, at the Steven Breuer Conference Center in Malibu, California. Rabbinic Alumni of the first three RLI cohorts, representing nearly a decade of our intensive rabbinic leadership program, will gather to study the topic of Covenant and its contemporary challenges and applications with SHI faculty members Prof. Israel Knohl and Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi.

Text study will focus on Biblical, Rabbinic and Modern interpretations of covenant and covenant theology. One day of the retreat will be open to all rabbinic colleagues in the area of Southern California. Highlights will be a learning session with Prof. Knohl; a session on the Hartman Institute’s newest project, Engaging Israel: Foundations for a New Relationship; and a preview of a learning program for rabbis and their communities which seeks to lift and shift the discourse on Israel and the relationship of North American Jews to Israel.

Rabbis will also enjoy a visit to a local winery and a viewing of a new Israeli film portraying Israeli society.

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So what really happens at the Shalom Hartman Institute during the summer programs?

Wonder no more, as Rabbi Michael Feshbach of the Institute’s three-year Rabbinic Leadership Initiative has blogged his experience of the summer. Here are some excerpts:

How can I describe the Hartman Institution, and this program, without sounding like I have, to use what I have always found a puzzling phrase, “drunk the Kool-Aide?”  What made this so special, I believe, was the content, the context and the colleagues.

The content.  What we learned was simply the highest quality educational experience of my career — on the most urgent and pressing questions of our time. … Discussions and panels and peer study on questions such as the meaning of Judaism after the Jewish state.  Or questioning who defines “the good.”  Or asking what is an ethical approach to the use of power based on Jewish sources?  Or dealing with the complex and existentially central question of the meaning of peoplehood in a world of individuality, autonomy and choice. 

But the most valuable piece… the teachers… and my fellow learners.  The colleagues who are travelling this path with me.  To study together with colleagues from all streams of Judaism… that alone gives a wider vision of Jewish life and possiblity than I had before coming, or have had in quite some time.  

The complete post, with greater detail about this  year’s curriculum and the experience,  is at Rabbi Feshbach’s blog.

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The Shalom Hartman Institute announces the second year of the well-received Rabbinic Student Seminar. During the 2009-2010 academic year, 20 students from six North American rabbinical schools participated and gave phenomenal evaluations.

Click here now for secure online registration.

“We are excited about this coming year. We will again include significant time for socializing, for processing important issues having to do with spirituality, Israel related concerns, and the meaning of becoming a rabbi,” said Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Vice President, Shalom Hartman Institute North America, Israel Department.
The study this coming year will again include a variety of scholars from the Hartman faculty. Program Co-Coordinators are Dr. Melila Hellner-Eshed and Rabbi Bill Berk. Melila will teach a class every other week focusing on central biblical stories and figures, primarily in Bereshit and Sh’mot, and the ways in which they are interpreted and developed in Midrash and in the Jewish mystical teachings of the Zohar. In addition, this year we are planning a shabbaton for the group in the winter.
The sessions will take place weekly on Tuesday evenings from 6-10 pm. The program will begin October 12, 2010, and run through May 30, 2011. The substantially subsidized program fee for a limited number of students from each school is $390, including the shabbaton.

Click here now for secure online registration. If you have additional questions please contact Marlene Houri. We look forward to another rewarding year.

The Rabbinic Students Seminar in Jerusalem

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