The Shalom Hartman Institute of North America (SHI-NA) is proud to announce that the North American Scholars Circle (NASC) is beginning a new program cycle. This year’s theme will be the elusive meaning of Jewish “peoplehood,” a much-debated concept that has rarely been the focus of the kind of rigorous scholarly debate which NASC will apply to it this year.
The North American Scholars Circle, comprising outstanding Judaic Studies scholars from the academy and the Jewish community, was launched in 2009. Working together to shape a new Jewish conversation in North America, NASC is tasked with formulating meaningful approaches to making Judaism relevant to contemporary life, and with using scholarship to elevate the discourse of contemporary Judaism.
In its inaugural year, NASC studied the theme of Ikkarim, defining the essential foundations of Judaism for a new generation of North American Jewry. The cohort produced a series of articles, but more importantly grounded its work in the big questions and values of contemporary Jewish life.
Now led by Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer, President of SHI-NA, who has joined forces with Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi and scholars from the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, NASC aims to route new ideas from the academy into the community, and to bring critical communal questions into the work of the academy.
Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer says: “NASC conforms with the methodology of the Hartman Institute: to identify the core challenges facing the Jewish people, to marshal the intellectual resources, in the form of great minds and classic texts, that can speak to these challenges, to engage in deep research on how we translate the best in classical and contemporary Jewish thinking to the present situation, and to then channel this new thinking into programs and curricula that we teach to change-agents in the community. We believe that the significant challenges in Jewish life require a process of deep thinking and learning. This methodology enables us to develop and then propagate profound ideas, rooted in Jewish values, which can be translated much more richly into a diverse array of initiatives and programs.”