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Historic one-month scholar-in-residence program

Posted on 14 January 2010 by admin

For the schedule and registration form click here

At the heart of Judaism is the study of Torah. Torah for the Jewish people represents more than just the first five books of the Bible. Torah means the learning and understanding of everything Jewish — our culture, history, holidays, values, our relationship to God and a way of life steeped in ethics, compassion and meaning. Jewish learning is rooted in the study and exploration of our classical and sacred texts. We read these texts, grapple with their contradictions and complexities and gain insight through the wisdom and eternal truths embedded in every line. Jewish study has never been a soliloquy, but rather a dynamic dialectic between student and teacher and reader and text.

The ability to question, challenge, disagree and offer new interpretations of our most ancient texts is both exciting and liberating. The Talmud asks the question: “Which is greater, study or action?” And the Talmud responds: “Study is greater, since study leads to action.” Torah learning is the key to unlocking Judaism’s wisdom. Learning helps us to navigate in a world of incredible change, advancement, complexity and dangers. The study of Torah provides the blueprint for tikkun olam, for repairing a world and society that is often broken and crying out for help. The Jewish tradition is about relationships, death, fear, sexuality, love and the complexity of living a moral and ethical life.

You cannot confront such issues of depth and reality easily. They require serious learning and reflection. Torah study and Jewish learning are the basis for leading a rich, meaningful and beautiful Jewish life. To be educated from the Jewish perspective means becoming part of something bigger than yourself. It means not merely to be a student of Torah, but to be of the Torah.

It is for these reasons that Congregation Shearith Israel is launching a historic program of Torah learning and outreach: the Bernard “Beanie” Siegel Scholar-in-Residence Program — “GPS Judaism: Finding Your Place in the Jewish Tradition.” The program is made possible by a gift from Lynne and Andy Siegel and other donors.

“GPS Judaism” will feature Noam Zion, director of curriculum development and research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Noam is one of the most dynamic and gifted teachers in the Jewish world today.

This program will be for the entire Jewish community and will take place from Jan. 29 to Feb. 23. Classes, workshops and study sessions will take place at Shearith Israel and throughout the entire Jewish community in a plethora of venues.

There was an ancient tradition known as hakhel, where farmers who couldn’t study on a daily basis would all gather in Jerusalem once a year to learn Torah in an intense way. “GPS Judaism” will highlight this custom by giving everyone in our community an opportunity for intensive and authentic Torah learning for an entire month.

We invite all the members of the community to join us for a dynamic, spiritually uplifting and intellectually stimulating month of learning and Jewish growth.

Rabbi William Gershon is the senior rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel.

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