Drishat Shalom: Previous Themes
Fall 2017 – Money: Privileges and Responsibilities
Tzedakah is one of the most basic mitzvot and also one of the hardest to define. What responsibilities do we have with our money? Are there causes that demand priority? Can we justify buying the iPhone X before solving global hunger? Do yeshivot in Israel take precedence over the homeless in NYC? If there is a hurricane, should we send money to the Caribbean or the Jewish communities in Houston? In our globalized world, does it matter where the poor are? Can paying day school tuition exempt me from other obligations? Do we have to seek out need, or wait for it to come to us? Is tzedakah primarily for the giver or the recipient? Is it a mitzvah ben adam la-makom or ben adam la-ḥavero? Is there such a thing as “too much” giving?
Teachers included Jesse Abelman, Alyssa Gray, Aaron Koller, Joanna Samuels, and David Silber.
SPRING 2017 – (Dis)Order, Service, and Freedom: The Spiritual Transition from Purim to Pesach
Teachers included Wendy Amsellem, Miriam Gedwiser, Jon Kelsen, Aaron Koller, David Silber, and Devora Steinmetz.
FALL 2016 – Can There Be a City of God?
What moral and religious challenges and opportunities do cities present us with? Biblical texts offer both critical assessments of city building and city life as well as reflections on and instructions for creating and sustaining just and even holy cities.
Teachers included Miriam Gedwiser, Jon Kelsen, David Silber, and Devora Steinmetz.
SPRING 2016 – Melekhet Makhshevet: Integrating Judaism and Our Lives at Work
What is the value and meaning of work? Does Judaism have a notion of a “calling?” Can any job be part of a spiritual path? Whether you’re a student deciding on a career path, already on one, or simply want to engage in deep Talmud Torah, join our upcoming Drishat Shalom Fellowship and examine how to integrate the wisdom of Jewish tradition into your work life. Through intensive Torah study and conversation, we will put mindfulness to work, and challenge each other to enrich our professional pursuits with Judaism’s teachings and core values.
Teachers included Tammy Jacobowitz, Jon Kelsen, Sam Lebens, David Silber, and Devora Steinmetz.
FALL 2015 – YOURS, MINE, AND OURS: INDIVIDUAL AUTONOMY AND COMMUNAL RESPONSIBILITY
American society places great emphasis on the freedom of the individual. Biblical and Rabbinic texts often focus on communal values and the responsibilities that we have to each other. How do we navigate respect for individual autonomy, tolerance, and pluralism, with the responsibility to encourage those around us to live better lives? When should we advise or chastise another? What is our responsibility towards others? What is required of a responsible citizen?
Teachers included Wendy Amsellem, Yaffa Epstein, Yonah Hain, Jon Kelsen, and David Silber.
SPRING 2015 – “THE SEAL OF THE HOLY ONE IS TRUTH:” TRUTH AND AUTHENTICITY
We all want to live with truth, integrity and authenticity. But what do these terms mean, and how do we do it? What happens when truth conflicts with other deeply held values like family, community, and kindness? Are there situations in which it might be better to be less than fully truthful? How important is it to be true to yourself? This series of Drishat Shalom will be dedicated to exploring these questions, garnering insight from the full range of the Jewish canon.
Teachers included Wendy Amsellem, Yaffa Epstein, Jon Kelsen, Aaron Koller, and David Silber.
FALL 2014 – THE STORIES THAT WE TELL
Biblical and rabbinic stories inform our lives and encode our values and ideas. Jewish tradition calls upon us to not only read stories, but to craft and reenact them. From the re-telling of the Exodus saga at the Seder to popular stories told and retold about contemporary rabbinic figures, stories wield a vast power to create and transmit. We will explore a range of stories, all part of the grand conversation about who we are and how we are to walk in this world. In this series, participants will learn about great Jewish stories and think about the stories we choose to tell and how we choose to tell them.
Teachers included Wendy Amsellem, Jon Kelsen, David Silber and Ben Skydell.
SPRING 2014: JUDAISM AND OTHER CULTURES – INFLUENCE, INTERSECTION, AND IMPACT
This semester, we explored ways in which Jewish practices have affected, and have been affected by, Judaism’s surrounding cultures. Topics included the Bible and the New Testament, Jewish Law and Roman Law, and the impact of non-Jewish Bible scholars on the study of the Jewish Bible.
Teachers included David Flatto (Penn State), Jon Kelsen (Drisha), Jon Levenson (Harvard Divinity School), Shuli Taubes (SAR High School), and Jeffrey Tigay (UPenn).
FALL 2013: TEHILLIM IN TODAY’S TIMES
This semester examined the historical background and literary structure of the Psalms and how we moderns can relate to their spirituality through a study of the ancient Near Eastern context to the Psalms, questions of authorship, and their literary structure and meaning.
Teachers included Adele Berlin (University of Maryland), Stephen Geller (JTS), Judah Kraut (UPenn), Yael Leibowitz (Yeshiva University), and Benjamin Sommer (JTS).
SPRING 2013: IN, OUT, OR BREAKING THE BOX – UNCONVENTIONAL OPINIONS IN THE JEWISH TRADITION
This semester examined opinions in midrash, philosophy, Chasidut and halakhah that tested the boundaries of acceptability in thought and deed.
Teachers included Gerald Blidstein (Ben-Gurion University), Christine Hayes (Yale University), Richard Lewis, Shuli Taubes (SAR High School), and Avraham Walfish (Herzog College).
FALL 2012: PERSPECTIVES ON THE BIBLE- A MULTIDIMENSIONAL EXPLORATION
This semester examined the Bible in its ancient near eastern context, archeology and the Bible, the Bible from a literary perspective and the Bible in Christian and Muslim contexts.
Teachers included Adele Berlin (University of Maryland), Elana Stein Hain (Lincoln Square Synagogue), Judy Klitsner (Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies), Aaron Koller (Yeshiva College), and Jeffrey Tigay (UPenn).