Posts Tagged ‘conservative’

Come and study in Jerusalem at the Shalom Hartman Institute with your fellow rabbinic students from other movements in an open and supportive atmosphere.


  • David Hartman
  • Melila Hellner-Eshed
  • Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi
  • Rut Kaniel Kara-Ivanov
  • Israel Knohl
  • Micah Goodman


  • Reading the Zohar
  • The Soul of the Sinner: From Chet to Geulah
  • God After Auschwitz: Dilemmas in Post-Holocaust Theology
  • Morality in War
  • Where Do We Come From?

The Experience

  • 6:00 – 7:00 PM “Processing” issues dealing with ruchaniyut, the Israeli experience (yisraeliyut) and becoming a rabbi. Half of the processing will be through reflection on Israeli poetry and half will be through small group reflection (talking circle)
  • 7:00 – 7:45 PM Dinner (homemade vegetarian soups & trimmings)
  • 7:45 – 8:30 PM Havruta study
  • 8:30 – 10:00 PM Shiur: Half of the shiurim will be with Melila Hellner-Eshed (Reading the Zohar); the other half will be with other Hartman Faculty


  • When: Twenty-seven Tuesday nights, beginning October 27, 2009
  • Cost: $750 (includes all study materials and 27 dinners)
  • For more information contact: Rabbi Bill Berk, 054-424-8702, billberk@shi.org.il
  • For information, and to register, contact Marlene Houri, 02-567-5336, marlene@shi.org.il


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The value and virtues of Top 10, 25 or 50 lists are endlessly debatable. But what is indisputable is that they start discussions – and disputes. The publication this week of the new “Top 50 (U.S.) Rabbis” compiled by Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman & CEO Michael Lynton, News Corporation Executive Vice President Gary Ginsberg and JTN Productions CEO Jay Sanderson and published by Newsweek, and the addition this year of the “25 Most Vibrant Congregations” is no different.

From the moment these lists first appeared, people have been attacking them for being too hip and media-centric, to ignoring traditional (read: Orthodox and yeshiva) rabbis, and for ranking the un-rankable. At the same time, they have sparked debate as to what makes a rabbi effective in the modern world.

Shmuel Rosner, as usual, offers a pungent critique of the list and its worth:

In a real world of serious rabbis such list will change only very slowly and very rarely (Can you imagine: this year, Hillel is tops Shamai for the number one slot!?). The fact that Newsweek can tweak its list so quickly is testimony to one of three things:

  1. Newsweek doesn’t do a serious job.
  2. Rabbis aren’t as important as they used to be.

Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic Monthly says, “The list is meant to be picked over, so pick over it I will,” and he does, with his own tart and funny comments on many of the list’s leaders. Here’s what he says about Newsweek’s pick of David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center, co-chair of the Coalition to Preserve Religious Liberty, and FOO (Friend of Obama) as No. 1:

This pick is typical of the list, which slights congregational rabbis (the ones who interact with, you know, Jews), but it makes a certain amount of sense: Saperstein has become a central player in the liberal wing of American Jewry, which is the wing on steroids.

Finally, when I passed this list around to members of the current class of Shalom Hartman Institute Rabbinic Leadership Initiative Fellows, they made similar comments. One wrote: “Friends, we’re all fine rabbis. Please let’s not get sucked into this hideous ranking system before Zagat starts reviewing our sermons and congregations.”

With all that as prologue, several Hartman-affiliated rabbis and their congregations, as well as FOH (Friends of Hartman), made the list:

Two synagogues on the Top 25 list are represented in the current cohort of Rabbinic Fellows:

Past members of the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative program on the list are: Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, new head of the CCAR, and Ed Feinstein of Temple Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, CA. The list’s chief FOH is David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

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David Hartman talks about how Jewish religious extremism, and even “mainstream” Orthodoxy have grown in modern times as more modern, rational movements have struggled.

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Rabbi Bill Berk, Director, Center for Rabbinic Enrichment, invites rabbis the world over to attend the Summer 2009 Rabbinic Torah Study Seminar at Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem

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“Shalom From Jerusalem”: Rabbi Morley T. Feinstein, University Synagogue, Los Angeles, CA, talks about his week-long residency at Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem, Israel, as part of the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative.

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Hartman Rabbinic Leadership members on field trip, summer 2008

Hartman Rabbinic Leadership members on field trip, summer 2008

Nearly the full complement of rabbis participating in the Hartman Institute’s current Rabbinic Leadership Initiative program is due to arrive in Jerusalem today for their winter retreat and week of study.

With an overall theme of prayer, and lectures as diverse as “Hannah and Moses: Two Models of Prayer,” and “Poetry in Prayer,” as well as additional lectures, havruta study and a “mitzvah trip” to the south of Israel, this group of about 27 rabbis will be busy, busy, busy. Bruchim haba’im, and we hope you have a productive week.

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This came in a few days ago – OK, we were out for Sukkot: Haaretz reports that American rabbis are coming out publicly for the two U.S. presidential candidates in record numbers this year – the early ones for Barack Obama, with a Rabbis for McCain coming soon, as well.

Rabbi Sam Gordon, Hartman Institute Rabbinic Leadership Initiative

Rabbi Sam Gordon, Hartman Institute Rabbinic Leadership Initiative

One of the Hartman Institute’s Rabbinic Leadership Initiative members, Sam Gordon of Congregation Sukkat Shalom, Wilmette, Illinois, was a founder of Rabbis for Obama. Gordon told Haaretz he has known Obama from the beginning of his public career, which makes sense, as Wilmette is in metropolitan Chicago, Obama’s home territory.

And a follow-up article in the same newspaper rates Gordon as one of the 36 (get it?) most influential Jews in the U.S. election cycle for that effort.

Gordon says the group includes rabbis from all streams of Judaism: (more…)

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