TAUBER SPARK! – Ignite Your Jewish Learning
Allow yourself to dive into our tradition and SPARK your imagination. We want EVERYONE to take part in this innovative community-wide Jewish learning experience. Let your heart be moved by Torah; be open to a transformative and mind-opening experience. Join your friends, rabbis and guest teachers for three nights of SPARK, a powerful Jewish learning offering of Congregation Emanu-El. Our evening will begin with schmooze time for participants to mingle and nosh together, followed by a one-hour session in one of three hot topic SPARK study sessions with rabbis and leading guest educators. The evening will be followed by a community-wide keynote address or seminar with special scholars/speakers.
TAUBER SPARK 2020 – March 17, 24, 31 from 6:45 – 9:00 pm!
See below for course offerings and keynote speakers.
Program Fee: $40 for members; $50 for non-members
(Updated Wednesday, March 11, 2020) Tauber SPARK! has been cancelled in an “abundance of caution” due to the coronavirus. We hope to reschedule these educators for another time.
Course Offerings for 2020:
Discovery and Surprise in Jewish History: The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Cairo Geniza
Taught by SFSU Profs: Ken Cohen and Fred Astren
Two sets of discoveries in modern times have completely altered the way we think about the history of Jews and Judaism. The discovery of the Cairo Geniza in the nineteenth century and the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 remind us those entire Jewish societies and Judaisms can remain utterly unknown but for the lucky break of discovery. The Dead Sea Scrolls reveal an astonishing range of religious variety from the time of the Second Temple, while the Cairo Geniza includes granular detail about the lives and religion of Arabic-speaking Jews in eleventh and twelfth-century Egypt and the Mediterranean. At the heart of this mini-course is a historical riddle posed by a textual link between these two massive collections of once-forgotten Jewish writing!
Session 1: The World of the Dead Sea Scrolls / Ken Cohen
Session 2: The Story of the Damascus Document: Connecting the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Cairo Geniza / Fred Astren
Session 3: The World of the Cairo Geniza / Fred Astren
Fred Astren is Professor in the Department of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University, now in the faculty early retirement program. He holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies and an M.A. in Arabic from the University of California, Berkeley. His current book project is entitled Before the Geniza: Jews and the Early Middle Ages, which looks at Jewish history in the years 500–950 from a Mediterranean perspective. Forthcoming is a chapter in the Cambridge History of Judaism on non-rabbinic Judaisms in the medieval Islamic world, a book chapter on the failure of anti-Jewish legislation in the Visigothic kingdom in early medieval Spain, and a book chapter on the impact of papermaking on ninth-century Jewish sectarianism in the Abbasid caliphate. He is the author of Karaite Judaism and Historical Understanding, published by the University of South Carolina Press in 2004. He has offered many classes at Congregation Emanu-El and has taught widely in the Bay Area for decades.
Ken Cohen is Co-editor of the weekly Hotline published by Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME). He served for 12 years, until 2003, as the president of Lehrhaus Judaica and he served as an adjunct professor in Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University for 20 years. His “first career” was in high technology, where he held technical, marketing, and executive management positions at IBM, McDonnell Douglas, Perkin Elmer, and Oracle Corporation, where he served as chief marketing executive during the mid-1980s. In the late 1980s, Ken decided to begin a second career, enrolling in the joint Jewish Studies graduate program at the Graduate Theological Union and UC/Berkeley. In this period, he also became actively involved with Lehrhaus Judaica as a teacher, primarily in the areas of Bible and late antiquity. Ken continues to teach a 25-year-long weekly Bible seminar in Berkeley, closely reading all of the books of the Bible. He has also taught numerous courses on Jewish history for the American Jewish Committee in San Francisco. For three years, he taught a course on Zionism and Israel at the Jewish Community High School in San Francisco.
LGBTQ Inclusion in Jewish Life: Where do we fit and how can we all belong together?
Randi Reed, Keshet’s Bay Area Educator
The makeup of our Jewish world is changing; we now understand and describe gender, identity and individuality differently than we ever have before. This three-part session with Keshet’s Bay Area educator will explore LGBTQ+ language, identity and inclusion, not only in our secular world but our Jewish community as well. Participants will leave with a better understanding of the LGBTQ+ community and how to be an ally; discover the rich history of Bay Area LGBTQ activism and how it intersects with our SF Jewish history. Finally, participants will deep-dive into Talmud and Torah texts on gender and find a new lens in which to read these ancient writings.
Randi Reed brings her passion for creating safer, more inclusive spaces for the LGBTQ+ community as Keshet’s Bay Area LBGTQ Education and Training Manager. Prior to joining Keshet, Randi helped build LGBTQ teen and community programs for the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. She also managed volunteers, community programs, and donations for Covenant House California, the largest youth shelter in Northern California. When she’s not in the office, Randi can be seen cruising on one of her bikes around San Francisco and Oakland or rowing in the San Francisco Bay with her Whale Boat Team, West Coast Rowing.
Forgiving the Unforgivable? The Ethics of Apologies
Prof. Aaron Hahn Tapper, University of San Francisco
The notion of forgiveness is central to the human experience. It is a component of one’s relationship with other individuals, other collectives, and even oneself. But what does forgiveness mean? When someone forgives someone else, what happens? This three-part seminar explores forgiveness in terms of inter-personal, intranational (between those within the same country), and international situations alongside the interdependent idea of apologies. After looking at forgiveness and apologies in terms of its general application (i.e., in everyday lives), we will study the ritualization of national apologies, including the case example of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (e.g., in Sierra Leone and South Africa), political apologies in the context of the United States (e.g., enslaved Africans, imprisoned Japanese Americans, maltreatment of Native Americans), and the reconciliation efforts made by the Australian government (primarily represented by Whites) and indigenous Australian communities of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders.
Aaron J. Hahn Tapper, the Mae and Benjamin Swig Professor in Jewish Studies and the founding Director of the Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice, has been at USF since 2007. An educator for more than two decades, his primary academic interest is the intersection between identity formation, social justice, and marginalized groups.
Aaron completed his PhD in the Religious Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he studied the History of Religions, the Sociology of Religions, Nonviolence and Religions, Politics and Religions, and Modern Islamic Movements. His Dissertation focused on the relationship between power, the sociopolitical context of Israel and Palestine, and Jewish and Islamic religious law (halachah and shari’a, respectively). He also received an MTS from Harvard Divinity School, where he focused on World Religions, and a BA from Johns Hopkins University, where he majored in Psychology.
Tuesday, March 17: 8:00 – 9:00pm – Bro-Mitzvahs: The Black-Jewish Dialogue on TV by Prof. Shaina Hammerman, USF
White Jewish comedians like Larry David, Ilana Glazer, and Jon Stewart bring Black characters or themes of blackness to their routines at those moments when they seek to challenge their status as unmarked white people. But is the inverse also true? When Black comedians and characters engage with ideas surrounding Jewishness, what are the motives and outcomes? Examining shows like Blackish, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Nanny, and Broad City, this talk asks what comedy has to teach us about how Blacks, Jews, and Black Jews understand themselves and each other off screen.
Shaina Hammerman is the author of Silver Screen, Hasidic Jews: The Story of an Image from Indiana University Press. She teaches Jewish cultural history for the Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice at the University of San Francisco. Hammerman holds a PhD in Jewish History and Culture from the Graduate Theological Union. She has published widely on Jews, race, and gender on film and television.
Tuesday, March 24: 8:00 – 9:00pm – Refugees in America by Rabbi Lee Bycel
Each chapter of Refugees in America focuses on an individual from a different country, from a 93-year-old Polish grandmother who came to the United States after surviving the horrors of Auschwitz to a young undocumented immigrant from El Salvador who became an American college graduate, despite being born impoverished and blind. Some have found it easy to reinvent themselves in the United States, while others have struggled to adjust to America, with its new culture, language, prejudices, and norms. Each of them speaks candidly about their experiences to author Lee T. Bycel, who provides illuminating background information on the refugee crises in their native countries. Their stories help reveal the real people at the center of political debates about US immigration.
Books will be available for purchase. Profits from the sale of the book are going to HIAS and IRC.
Lee T. Bycel is a humanitarian activist, Rabbi, teacher and author, who serves as the Sinton Visiting Professor of Holocaust, Ethics and Refugee Studies at the University of San Francisco. He has visited refugee camps in Darfur, Chad, South Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Haiti. He has written extensively about the plight of refugees, and has secured much needed funding for medical clinics in refugee camps. He was appointed by President Obama, in 2014, to the United States Holocaust Memorial Commission and served his full term to 2019. He is a Senior Moderator of Leadership Seminars at the Aspen Institute.
Tuesday, March 31: 8:00 – 9:00pm – Jewish Scientists, Hitler and the Laws of Economics by Auritte Cohen-Ross
Within two months of rising to power, Hitler banned Jews from working in state-owned institutions. Overnight 12,000 academics lost their jobs. The stories of German Jewish scientists immigrating to Britain and the US are filled with suspense, thrill, drama, humor, perseverance, humility, cowardness and courage. From Einstein to Max Born, through the stories of individual scientists, you will hear about the numerous ways these scientists left Germany, along with the organizations and individuals who assisted them. The exodus of these scientists had severe long term implications for Germany, the US, and Britain’s scientific communities. We will conclude by connecting the past to today’s pressing issues of immigration, investment in science research, and the Jewish community’s social and humanitarian goals.
Auritte Cohen-Ross is the founder and director of Celsius and Beyond; an award-winning science enrichment program for children in San Francisco. Prior she served in the IDF and later spent 12 years in the high tech industry in Silicon Valley. Auritte is a Cum Laude Economics Honors graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia.
TAUBER SPARK 2019 OFFERINGS WERE:
Jewish Masculinity in the #MeToo Era with Rabbi Joshua Ladon
How Jewish Feminists Transformed Judaism and American Culture with Rabbi Jane Litman
Things They Never Taught You In Hebrew School: The Practice of Mussar with Rabbi Beth Singer
Rabbi Joshua Eli Plaut, PhD – Good News from Israel: Medical Acheivements and Daily Miracles at Rabin Medical Center
Prof. Marc Dollinger, PhD – Black Power, Jewish Politics: Reinventing the Alliance In the 1960s
Gunda Trepp – Biography of Rabbi Leo Trepp
Questions about the Tauber SPARK program? Contact Ariana Estoque at 415-751-2541 x111 or at email@example.com
TAUBER SPARK 2018 OFFERINGS WERE:
Mussar – Transform Yourself Through Jewish Wisdom, taught by Greg Marcus, Ph.D.
70 Faces of Israel: Exploring Israel Through Popular Culture, taught by Ilan Vitemberg
The Lessons of Joseph, taught by Sue Reinhold, Ph.D.
Taube Scholar and Emanu-El’s Senior Rabbi Emeritus, Stephen Pearce
Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, the author of Waking Lions
Lynne Quittell, MD, Director, North American Office, Ben-Gurion University Medical School for International Health; Pediatric Pulmonologist, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
SPARK 2017 OFFERINGS WERE:
The Good Old Days: Buying and Selling American Jewish Nostalgia with Prof. Rachel B. Gross
Ethical Fitness with Rachel Brodie
Judaisms: A Twenty-First -Century Introduction to Jews and Jewish Identities with Aaron Hahn Tapper, PhD
Together, With Love, We can Change The World: Talmud Study as a Counter-Cultural Rebellion with Rabbi Jason Rodich
2017 Seminar Speakers
Tad Taube and Shana Penn sharing details of the Museum of the History of Polish Jewry
Prof. Marc Dollinger in conversation with Ilana Kaufman, from the JCRC discussing Jews and Race: The Changing Color of American Jewry
Emanu-El Scholar, Rabbi Lawrence Kushner discussing “’God was in this Place and I, i did not Know.’” A very close reading of Genesis 28:16.
The Tauber Jewish Studies Program is made possible by The Laszlo N. Tauber Family Foundation, reflecting the dynamic, generous, and enduring spirit of Dr. Laszlo N. Tauber.
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