SPARK! – Ignite Your Jewish Learning
Allow yourself to dive into our tradition and SPARK your imagination. We want EVERYONE to take part in a new, 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.
Tuesdays; March 14, 21, 28
6:45 – 9:00 pm, includes nosh and schmooze time, course and seminar
$54 for member
$75 for non-members
Courses (select one course to focus on for all three nights of SPARK, 7:00 – 7:50 pm):
The Good Old Days: Buying and Selling American Jewish Nostalgia
Today, American Jews make, buy, and sell nostalgia, a sentimental longing for a past that cannot be recovered. This course will examine how American Jews express nostalgia for eastern European Jewish immigration history and connect to it emotionally through visiting historic American synagogues, buying children’s books and dolls, and consuming trendy interpretations of Ashkenazi cuisine.
Educator: Rachel B. Gross is the John and Marcia Goldman Professor of American Jewish Studies in the Department of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University. She writes and teaches about American Jewish food and popular culture. She is currently working on a book that examines the religious nature of contemporary nostalgic representations of American Jewish immigration history. She received her PhD from Princeton University.
In ethics, it’s usually the big issues — capital punishment, lifeboats, euthanasia — that get all the attention. However, being a good person in the real world of jury duty, time-share offers, and Internet bargains poses more frequent challenges to our consciences and our society. Being an ethical person is not about having ready-made decisions; rather it is a byproduct of a process that requires training and practice. Strive for “ethical fitness” through a “workout” with “personal trainer” Rachel Brodie. Lively conversation and text study guaranteed to make you a better person (or at least an even more thoughtful one)!
Educator: Rachel Brodie is a Jewish educator who works primarily with adult learners and specializes in designing and facilitating professional development opportunities for other Jewish educators. Currently, Rachel teaches Jewish literature, history, and ethics at a wide variety of San Francisco Bay Area institutions and serves as a scholar-in-residence around the country.
Judaisms: A Twenty-First -Century Introduction to Jews and Jewish Identities.
Jewish identity is probably not what you think it is, and likely never was, contends Aaron J. Hahn Tapper. In these sessions, we will explore the multifaceted, complicated, age-old, and ever-changing ideas of what it means to be a Jew, including how this group is understood as a culture, ethnicity, nation, nationality, race, religion, and more.
Educator: Aaron Hahn Tapper, PhD (photo:Barbara Ries © 2013) is the Mae and Benjamin Swig Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, the founding Director of the Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice, and the Chair of the Department of Theology & Religious Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he has been since 2007. A member of Class XV of the Wexner Graduate fellowship, he graduated with honors from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Psychology, received an MTS from Harvard Divinity School, and a PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His most recent book, Judaisms: A Twenty-First-Century Introduction to Jews and Jewish Identities (UC Press, 2016) looks at the millennia-old Jewish communities using the lenses of Social Identity Theory and Critical Diversity Studies.
Together, With Love, We can Change The World: Talmud Study as a Counter-Cultural Rebellion
Deep-dive into the universe of the Talmud. Our task will be twofold: First, we will study three different texts from the Babylonian Talmud that will be moving, provocative and relevant in their own right. Next, we will explore what the Talmud and process of engaging it means for us in our world today: How can this ancient text, with its seemingly strange logic (or lack thereof), be a powerful spiritual and communal resource? No experience needed, just be ready to have fun and think big. Original text and translations provided.
Educator: Our very own, Rabbi Jason Rodich, who is particularly interested in issues of social justice, Jewish thought, Israel engagement and youth development. A recipient of a Wexner Graduate Fellowship for his rabbinical studies, Rabbi Rodich was also awarded the Rubin Memorial Prize for Scholarly Writing and the Samson H. Levey Prize for Outstanding Student in Rabbinic Literature.
Seminar Speakers – 8:00 – 9:00pm:
The Museum of the History of the Polish Jews in Warsaw has, in every respect, been a success story. The New York Times has called it the “most ambitious cultural institution to rise in Poland since the fall of Communism”. Visitors are stunned by its sophisticated architecture and exhibitions. Within the Jewish community, however, the museum has been controversial from the beginning. While some see it as a gift to a society still indifferent toward the Jewish people, others see it as a celebration of the rich Jewish history in Poland, or, as Tad Taube, one of the museum’s principal supporters, puts it: “Jews were a part of Poland for thousand years. We cannot forget about the richness of their lives and their contributions to society. Poland would not be what it is without the Jews.”
Learn more about the museum, its history and its goals and join us for an evening of study and discussion.
Prof Dollinger will speak to and about white privilege; about how Jews have become white and its implications as we navigate the world around us.Dr. Marc Dollinger holds the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility at San Francisco State University. He is author of Quest For Inclusion: Jews and Liberalism In Modern America published by Princeton University Press, California Jews, co-edited with Ava Kahn, and American Jewish History: A Primary Source Reader, both published by Brandeis University Press. He is currently at work on: Is It Good For The Jews? Black Power and the 1960s. He is a past president of both the Jewish Community High School of the Bay and Brandeis Hillel Day School. Marc serves as academic vice president of Lehrhaus Judaica as well as trustee of URJ Camp Newman and the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center. Marc sits on the California advisory committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, was named 2008 Volunteer of the Year by the SF Jewish Community Federation, and was awarded the San Francisco JCRC’s 2015 Courageous Leader award for his work against the BDS movement. Just for fun, Professor Dollinger helped actress Helen Hunt learn about her Jewish roots on the NBC program, “Who Do You Think You Are?”
Ilana Kaufman will bring perspectives on and from Jews of Color in the US, and Jews, Jewish Identity and Racial Justice in the US. Ilana is Public Affairs and Civic Engagement Director, East Bay, for the San Francisco, CA-based Jewish Community Relations Council. She has twenty years of leadership, community building and organizational development experience. As a strategic designer, planner and problem solver, Ilana is regularly engaged by regional and national Jewish federations, community relations organizations, philanthropic entities and community service providers. She has been featured in the Jewish Times of America and the J Weekly, and has published articles the Forward, eJewish Philanthropy, The Foundation Review and Independent School Magazine. A nationally regarded thought leader on the importance of grappling with race and racism in the Jewish community, Ilana was featured in the series “ELI Talks: Inspired Jewish Ideas” in 2015 and was recognized by both the Jewish Multiracial Network and the New York Public Library Blog Celebrating African American Jews for Black History Month in 2016.
March 28 – Emanu-El Scholar, Rabbi Lawrence Kushner
“’God was in this Place and I, i did not Know.’” A very close reading of Genesis 28:16.
We will examine one of the great epiphanies of the Hebrew bible. (After Jacob wakes up from his great dream.) Our commentators find in this verse a complete spiritual manual for encountering and comprehending the divine.
Rabbi Lawrence Kushner has served as the Emanu-El Scholar since 2002. He is the author of eighteen books including the just published I’m God; You’re Not: Observations on Organized Religion & Other Disguises of the Ego; a novel, Kabbalah: A Love Story; and a screenplay, Your Good Friend (with Matthew Jacobs); Honey from the Rock; God Was in This Place and I, i Did Not Know; Invisible Lines of Connection; and Five Cities of Refuge (with David Mamet). He has been a commentator on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.
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