TAUBER SPARK! – Ignite Your Jewish Learning
Allow yourself to dive into our tradition and SPARK your imagination. Take part in this innovative community-wide Jewish learning experience – a mini university experience. Let your heart be moved by Torah; be open to a transformative and mind-opening journey. This year we are offering three outstanding and renowned educators to share their expertise with this community. Select one educator to learn with for three weeks and enjoy the SPARK!
Course Offerings for 2021
March 9, 16, 23, virtually beginning at 7:00 pm.
Take a deep dive into Torah, Talmud or Kabbalah with these astounding professors. It will be hard to choose just one!
$18 for members; $36 for nonmembers
Many readers are likely to be puzzled by the fact that the biblical stories, famous for being laconic, abound in repetitions. On consideration, the repetitions turn out to be artful and deliberate, complicating and enriching the narrative. My first lecture will examine how the repetition of words, phrases, whole sentences is used in Genesis. The second talk will focus on how what looks like the same story is told more than once with different characters. The examples in this case will begin with Genesis and move beyond it as well.
Robert Alter is Professor in the Graduate School and Emeritus Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley, where he has taught since 1967. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Council of Scholars of the Library of Congress, and is past president of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics. He has twice been a Guggenheim Fellow, has been a Senior Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, and Old Dominion Fellow at Princeton University. He has written widely on the European novel from the eighteenth century to the present, on contemporary American fiction, and on modern Hebrew literature. He has also written extensively on literary aspects of the Bible. His twenty-six published books include two prize-winning volumes on biblical narrative and poetry and award-winning translations of Genesis and of the Five Books of Moses.
This three-week course will explore the rich intellectual world of Jewish mysticism both medieval and modern, with a particular focus on the Zohar, Hasidism and neo-Hasidism. We will look at tales of mystical teachers and enter Zoharic poetics of interpreting biblical stories, and will investigate daring Hasidic homilies and their bold new theological visions. We will also consider these sources with an eye to modern moral, spiritual and intellectual questions (including environmental ethics), exploring both the wisdom of the mystical tradition for contemporary Jewish thinking as well as its challenges.
Ariel Evan Mayse joined the faculty of Stanford University in 2017 as an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies and serves as the rabbi-in-residence at Atiq: Jewish Maker Institute (atiqmakers.org). Previously he was the Director of Jewish Studies and Visiting Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish Thought at Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts. Mayse holds a Ph.D. in Jewish Studies from Harvard University and rabbinic ordination from Beit Midrash Har’el in Israel. His most recent publications include Speaking Infinities: God and Language in the Teachings for Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezritsh (University of Pennsylvania, 2020); Hasidism: Writings on Devotion, Community and Life in the Modern World (Brandeis University Press, 2020), edited with Sam Berrin Shonkoff, and The Language of Truth in the Mother Tongue (Magnes Press, 2020, in Hebrew).
Session 1: Whatever happened to God?
The destruction of the Jerusalem Temple and the Beginning of Talmudic Literature
We shall look at the repercussions of the Roman-Jewish war 66-70CE culminating in the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple (Beit ha-Mikdash) by the Romans. Its destruction signified the end of the sacrificial service and the priesthood, and thereby the end of biblical religion. Theologically, the Jerusalem Temple signified God’s presence amongst God’s people, so its destruction (hurban) also constituted a profound theological crisis. We shall look at the beginnings of Talmudic literature and the ingeniously creative ways, by which the sages of the Talmud (hakhamim) bridged a potentially catastrophic loss of cultural and religious tradition.
Session 2: My Home is My Castle and Fortress? Talmudic Religion as Household Religion
In the second we shall deal with the Talmudic focus on the domestic world as primary stage of Jewish life. From early on Talmudic texts made marriage and the establishment of a household not only a religious duty (mitzvah), but also a sanctuary of in its own right. We will explore the gender roles and their contestation, as well as in the Talmudic world beyond the home.
Session 3: Talmudic Futures and the Future of the Talmud
In our third and last class we ask what kind of future(s) Talmudic texts envisioned and were committed to. The urgent question of our time about the future of our planet and human life on it is one that concerned the sages of the Talmud, obviously in different ways. However, their commitment to a human future raises surprisingly relevant ethical question.
Charlotte Fonrobert is the Director of the Taube Center for Jewish Studies at Stanford University, and a professor of talmudic literature and culture in the Department of Religious Studies. Among many other academic writings, she has published The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and Rabbinic Literature (2007). In the past she has taught at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, and currently guest – teaches in the School of Jewish Theology in Potsdam/ Germany. Prof. Fonrobert is originally from Germany, where she met Rabbi Joseph Asher (z”l) when in college.
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 protected]
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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