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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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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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Reflections Newsletter from Shalom Hartman InstituteThe newest issue of Reflections, the Shalom Hartman Institute electronic magazine of ideas, is now online. Read these five great articles:

Israeli Society and the ‘Society of Learners’

Professors Shlomo Naeh, Zvi Zohar and Elhanan Reiner discuss the place of Torah scholars within the Jewish People throughout the generations, and the relevance of models from Jewish history to the current political rift

The Secrets of ‘Guide to the Perplexed’

Dr. Micah Goodman, who is currently completing the first book in Hebrew that is completely dedicated to the Guide to the Perplexed, explains why he also chose to reveal its secrets

Ancient Jewish Magic

Dr. Ishay Rosen-Zvi surveys Yovel Harari’s book on magic in Judaism, which shatters some of the myths relating to magic

Devekut

As shown by Dr.Adam Afterman, devekut was a marginal commandment in the time of the Sages. Only under the influence of external philosophies did the great medieval Jewish thinkers give it a new meaning and a more significant status

Abraham Abulafia

Professor Moshe Idel’s survey clarifies how even amongst self-declared messiahs, the 13th century Abulafia was a unique figure

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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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