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 one hour engaged in of one of four 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.
Tuesday evenings, March 6, 13, 20 6:45 – 9:00pm
Greg Marcus, Ph.D. Mussar – Transform Yourself Through Jewish Wisdom
Are there life challenges you keep bumping up against? Imagine what it would mean to be the best version of yourself, every day; to be a true “mensch,” a person of extraordinary character. Harness the wisdom of the 1000-year-old Jewish spiritual discipline of Mussar and learn how to focus on personal and spiritual growth in the midst of a busy, involved life. This highly interactive three-week program will teach your heart by doing. You will engage in easy, fun practices that incorporate cognitive, mindfulness, snippets of Jewish text, and experiential activities.
Greg Marcus is an innovative Mussar maven and the creator of American Mussar, a 21st-century spiritual practice for an authentic and meaningful life. Greg uses he/him as personal pronouns. He is a graduate of the Mussar Institute’s facilitator training program, and has been practicing and teaching for six years. Greg offers guidance on how to lead a life of mindful harmony and spiritual integrity, drawing upon Jewish teachings and contemporary wisdom alike. He has a Ph.D. from MIT, and worked for ten years as a marketer in Silicon Valley.
Greg’s writing has appeared in the Forward and Tikkun.org, and he is the author of two books. His latest book, The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions: Finding Balance Through the Soul Traits of Mussar has been praised by Alan Morinis, Rabbis David Jaffe, Ira Stone, and Shefa Gold, as well as filmmaker Tiffany Shlain. The book grew out of a class he created at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos, where he is a Board member, and co-chair of the small groups initiative with Rabbi Heath Watenmaker.
Sue Reinhold, Ph.D. The Lessons of Joseph
The Torah is a compelling living document whose stories have so much to teach us about living today. Perhaps no story is as dramatic, deep, and psychologically and sociologically powerful than that of Joseph, he of Technicolor Dreamcoat. Across four parshayot at the end of Genesis, the script unfurls like a Hollywood drama. A deep, three-part dive into the Joseph saga will allow us to get to questions and some tentative answers that certainly haunt our Jewish tradition and most of us, personally, as well. Who are we? What do we wrestle with internally? Can we ever leave our past behind? How do we stay resilient through dark times and see our way to the light? Who and how to marry? What is it, to be a familiar stranger? Is forgiveness possible? How do we fix broken or estranged families? How do we make a better society? Can we make a better society without past injustices ingrained into it?
Your questions will guide our discussion. We will use Torah, midrashic, and modern literary references in our discussion. Bring your own Torah or Bible if you have one, or we will provide them as well as other source text during class.
Sue Reinhold, Ph.D. was recently hired as a Managing Director of Philanthropy at the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, where she has been charged with developing new models of delivery and engagement in Jewish philanthropy. Sue is a social entrepreneur who was a co-founder of The Kitchen SF, a startup synagogue nationally recognized as one of the most innovative Jewish organizations in the country. Sue also co-founded and ran an independent financial advisory firm, North Berkeley Investment Partners. Sue holds a Ph.D. in social anthropology from the University of Sussex, England, where she studied as a Marshall Scholar. She has taught in formal and informal Jewish settings on most of the weekly Torah portions, and recently completed two years’ study of Bible and Jewish history and thought as a Wexner Heritage Fellow. Sue is a member of the Board of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, and of The Enthusiast, a startup soon launching in San Francisco that will be a maker-space for Jewish practice. Her forthcoming book, The Puzzle of Home, explores the set of questions that we all puzzle, like a Rubik’s cube, of how we tell the story of who we are and where we are from.
Ilan Vitemberg 70 Faces of Israel: Exploring Israel Through Popular Culture
In this unique 3 sessions program we use Israeli Culture as manifested in films, TV series, Popular Songs and even commercials to explore some of the most challenging aspects of what it means to create a democratic Jewish state. The program strives to provide a safe space to express different perspectives and means for elevating knowledge about Israel.
Ilan Vitemberg was born and raised on Kibbutz Megiddo in the Jisrael Valley in Northern Israel. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of the District of Columbia, with a degree in Theatre Arts focusing on the use of drama in Informal Education. For the past 20 years he has been working with children, teens, and adults both as a formal and informal teacher. In 1999 he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where he immersed himself in finding new, creative ways to teach Judaism, Israel and Hebrew to people of all ages. Most recently, Ilan was the Director of the Israel Education Initiative and Director of Education Support Services at Jewish LearningWorks. He lives in Oakland with his husband Peter with whom he also acts and performs as a member of the Up A Tree Puppetry duo.
Tauber SPARK! Keynote speakers, 2018
8:15 – 9:00pm (open to public)
March 6 – Taube Scholar and Emanu-El’s Senior Rabbi Emeritus, Stephen Pearce, D.D., Ph.D.
Lecture: THE FIRST LAW OF JEWISH TEXTS: For every text there exists an equal and opposite text. THE SECOND LAW OF JEWISH TEXTS: They are both wrong!
March 13 – Ayelet Gundar-Goshen is the author of Waking Lions, a bestselling novel in Europe and Israel and released in 2017 in the United States to outstanding reviews.
Lecture: Waking Lions: A Journey to Israel’s Back Yard
March 20 – Lynne Quittell, MD, Director, North American Office, Ben-Gurion University Medical School for International Health; Pediatric Pulmonologist, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Lecture: Tikkun Olam Without Borders: Healing the World Through Global Medicine
Dr. Quittell’s lecture presented in partnership with American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
HERE IS WHAT WE OFFERED IN SPARK 2017
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.
This program is part of the Madeleine Haas Russell Institute of Jewish Learning.