April eclipse events presented by DATA Kollel
Photo: Courtesy Dr. Ari Bergmann
Dr. Ari Bergmann, shown in August 2017 with co-workers Jaime Schechter and Sebastian Maas in Tennessee, where they’d traveled for the last total solar eclipse.

By Deb Silverthorn

The sky may be the limit for many topics but when it comes to a total solar eclipse, it’s the sky and beyond. The Dallas Community Kollel of DATA, with congregations Shaare Tefilla and Ohr HaTorah, will host a Yom Iyun, a day of in-depth study, with events from 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 7, until the afternoon of Monday, April 8. Events will take place at Congregation Ohr HaTorah and with a bus trip to a location best suited to experience Monday afternoon’s total solar eclipse. The classes, open to the public, will also be provided virtually with recordings available after April 8.

“This eclipse is a reminder that Hashem is in charge even when things are out of the ordinary. It’s a time for us all to wake up and be aware,” said DATA Rosh HaKollel Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried. “We must have faith and belief in He who runs the universe.

“We have some quite prestigious Jewish leaders coming from out of town, bringing groups, which is testimonial to the explosion of interest in this wonder of Hashem’s creation,” Fried added.

Experts participating in the the Great Eclipse Event include Dr. Henry Abramson, Rabbi Elchanan Adler, Dr. Ari Bergmann, Rabbi Dovid Heber, Rabbi Moshe Baruch Kaufman, Rabbi Ahron Notis and Rabbi Yaakov Trump, with Dr. Jeremy Brown and Dr. Sacha Stern joining virtually.

“There are deep, tremendous philosophical and kabbalistic aspects of an eclipse. Dallas is the place to be. It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to welcome locals and out-of-town guests to learn, explore and enjoy,” said Rabbi Hillel Muller, DATA’s COO and CFO. “You don’t have to be a scientific scholar, or one of Torah, to appreciate and take it all in.

“The sun and moon and times affect so much of our Judaism: when we light candles, when we pray, how we enter and leave Shabbat and holidays. This is an opportunity to explore and understand so much,” said Muller. “This is not about religious observance or not, no political conversation; it’s all science and an opportunity for unity, something we all crave.”

Abramson, who will speak at Shabbat morning services at Congregation Shaare Tefilla, has written 10 books and is a dean of Touro University. On Sunday afternoon he will discuss “Jews and Their Stars: Astrology, Astronomy and Jewish Destiny from Ibn Ezra to Einstein.”

Adler, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, will provide a study session regarding “Perspectives on the Mitzvah of Kiddush Hachodesh,” the blessing of the new month.

Bergmann, whose sons Moshe Meir and Shmuly had spent summers participating in DATA’s SEED experience and who was already intent on coming to Dallas for its favorable positioning to experience the eclipse, suggested the idea of the Yom Iyun.

“G-d truly works in mysterious ways. To experience this moment when the sun, which is 400 times the size of the moon appears to be the same, this totality, is a unique gift from Him,” said Bergmann, a hedge fund manager and chief investment officer who also teaches at Yeshiva University. He will speak on “Kitrug Halevana: Machshava on the Molad and the Eclipse.”

“This natural event is very powerful and beautiful, especially with our Jewish concepts and messages. Yom Iyun is dedicated to Jewish law and thought with the guidance of truly magnificent teachers, authors, rabbanim,” added Bergmann. “I am grateful to DATA and Dallas’ fantastic community for their bringing this together. Everyone who participates will leave better and more knowledgeable, having been a part of something so exceptional.”

Brown, an emergency physician at the National Institutes of Health, will speak about “Solar Eclipses and Human Sin: Attempts at Consilience.” Heber, director of kosher certifier STAR-K’s computer department, will discourse on “Eclipses: Watching the Molad in Slow Motion and Understanding the Jewish Calendar.”

“Seasons in Halacha and Aggada” will be discussed by Kaufman, kosher administrator at KVH Kosher, Notis, a rebbi at Mayan Hatalmud Yeshiva in Lakewood, New Jersey, and an author and researcher for ArtScroll Publications, will lead a conversation on the “Path from Observation to Wisdom and Inspiration.” Stern, a professor of Jewish studies at University College London in the U.K., will present “The Practice of the New Moon Sighting in the Geonic Period.”

“The opportunity to come together to not only experience such a natural phenomenon, but also to learn about it together, is one we could not pass up,” said Rabbi Shaya Fox, DATA’s CEO.

“We already have many out-of-towners registered to share in this monumental occasion to bring together science, history, halacha and more into our study and active engagement,” said Fox. “The Torah has a perspective on everything. We are excited to host such an occasion to bring our Torah to life and to show how it and Hashem are behind everything.”

For more details, or to register for the Yom Iyun, email hmuller@dallastorah.org. While there is no charge for the classes and eclipse viewing, a $36/person sponsorship is appreciated. For those participating in all classes as well as meals and snacks during the Sunday and Monday programming, a $360 donation is requested.

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