Dynamic panel discussion with Hartman scholars at Beth Torah Congregation ISRAEL @70: JUDAISM AND DEMOCRACY TORONTO iENGAGE LECTURE

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Dynamic panel discussion with Hartman scholars at Beth Torah Congregation http://www.bethtorahcongregation.ca

Tuesday May 8, 2018 in Toronto

Liz Pearl, PK Press

ISRAEL @70: JUDAISM AND DEMOCRACY

TORONTO iENGAGE LECTURE

All of Israel is Responsible for One Another:

On the Israel – Diaspora Relationship

The subtitle is a translation of a well-known Hebrew expression:

Kol Yirsael Arevim Zeh Bazeh

כל ישראל ערבים זה בז

[Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shavuot 39a]

This saying (and song) succinctly articulates much of what is at the heart of The Hartman Institute: Jewish Peoplehood. This evening the discussion about the Israel – Diaspora relationship was explored through this lens.

Rabbi Yossi Sapirman had the honour of introducing the evening and reflecting on his connection with the Shalom Hartman Institute. He is a graduate of the Shalom Hartman Rabbinic Leadership Program (Senior Rabbinic Fellow) and often he makes reference in his sermons to this instrumental learning opportunity.  “This type of round-table discussion has taken the art of scholarship to a new level ‒ a desire to change for the better. Freedom to speak our minds for what is best for the Jewish people”. (Perhaps my favourite reference is The BTC Big Tent of inclusion – a beautiful metaphor for pluralism).

This engaging learning program was hosted by Beth Torah Congregation and sponsored by Living Jewishly generously funded by the Wagner Family.

We can all benefit from these engaging educational and cultural initiatives – we yearn for a contemporary Judaism that is accessible to all of us.

The Shalom Hartman Institute in Israel and North America is rooted in values of religious pluralism and Jewish Peoplehood and seeks to develop innovative programs and forums for meaningful dialogue.

The dynamic panel discussion was moderated by Rabbi Sarah Mulhern, manager of Rabbinic and Lay Education at SHI of North America. She introduced the panelists and invited the speakers to share their personal narratives and unique perspectives, and voice divergent ideas.

Acclaimed scholarly panelists included:  Dr. Orit Avnery, Rabbi Dani Segal and Rabbi Rami Jaegar ‒ indeed a vibrant collection of scholars and dedicated community leaders depicting the diversity of modern Judaism in Israel and abroad.

Dr. Orit Avnery is a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute. She is a feisty feminist with a Ph.D in Bible Studies. Orit is a shining scholar and an inspiring role model for Jewish women.

Rabbi Dani Segal is the rabbi emeritus of Yishuv Alon, a heterogeneous Israeli community committed to secular-religious coexistence and co-director of the Shalom Hartman Institute and Midrasha for new Israeli Rabbis, and a founding member of Ein Prat Academy http://m.midrasha.einprat.org/en/. Dani is soft-spoken and articulate (of course he is; he’s a specialist on communication in marriage).

Note to self: look into Desert Marital Retreats on my next visit to Israel.

Rabbi Rani Jaegar (who hesitated to wear a kippah) is a research fellow, faculty member, and head of the recently formed Ritual Centre at The Shalom Hartman Institute. Rani is a founder of Beit Tefilah Israeli, http://btfila.org/english/ an Israeli secular synagogue in the heart of Tel Aviv. Rani is a passionate idealist.

Note to self: check-out this contemporary / spiritual / musical Israeli gem-on-the-beach on my next visit to Israel.

We are truly fortunate to have charismatic, learned and wise speakers in our midst.

On the Israel and Diaspora Relationship ‒ there is no shortage of complex issues to examine: the Kotel, Conversion, Refugees from Africa and perhaps the most heated – Occupation. How do we build bridges across the gaping divide to maintain our Jewish Peoplehood – worldwide? These are tough questions. The speakers explored the challenges and provided some seeds of hope. Certainly, the Hartman rabbis and scholars are intending to cultivate hope for all of us. Panel consensus: the key is to keep the conversation going because we are all a part of this story. This is our story.

Some tidbits to think about:

  • Growth potential from conflict
  • The value of criticism ‒ criticism indicates concern and investment
  • Symbiotic relationship
  • Reframe the discussion and ask different questions
  • Develop a common lexicon
  • Maintain hope and connections
  • Stay engaged and join the conversation

Big picture questions to think about: what are the common denominators of Jewish Peoplehood and how can we possibly all get on the same page?

Let us all come to the table with open hearts and open minds to produce something fruitful to give to the next generation because we are all agents of a very special people. From generation to generation.

To learn more visit https://hartman.org.il or Shalom Hartman Institute on Facebook, including: innovative programs, interesting resources, and inspiring posts and webinars.

Yes, I too have a Hartman connection – a story for another day.

Liz Pearl, PK Press

Everyone Has a Story. What’s Yours? Share Your Story—Leave a Legacy.

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