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Elul Learning

The Stanley Rudoff Memorial High Holy Day Lecture Series
All These Vows: The Kol Nidrei Conundrum
Yom Kippur opens with this most powerful, albeit peculiar, communal prayer of Kol Nidrei. This year, part 1 of the Stanley Rudoff Memorial High Holy Day Lecture Series will explore the history and halakhah of this controversial tefillah with special focus on how annulling past and/or future vows sets the spiritual tone for the Day of Atonement.
Shmuel Hain
Wednesday, September 9, 7:30pm
Reflections on the Yamim Noraim: Are There Limits to Forgiveness?
JJ Schacter
Sunday, September 20, 7:30pm
Lectures are open to the public; light refreshments will be served.

 

Themes of Rosh HaShanah as Reflected in Our Liturgy
Through an examination of the Rosh HaShanah prayer service, we will uncover major themes of the holiday.
David Silber
Tuesday, September 8 and Thursday, September 10, 9:30 – 11:00am
Tuition: $40
Click here to register.

You Can’t Fix What Isn’t Broken: The Indispensable Errors of Religious and Spiritual Growth
A Rosh Hashanah paradox: The longer we live the more we understand our lives as a story and a journey. We all have our developing life narratives. But our stories and journeys are complex and complicated. Ironically, the best of who we are today sometimes derives in part from some of the most serious faults and misdeeds of our yesterday. Making mistakes, both moral and religious, seems necessary for our individual spiritual development and growth. Teshuva, however, requires regretting what we did wrong however necessary it was for our growth. In this class, we will explore Jewish texts and our own life experience that deal with the paradox of repentance in a world of indispensable moral and religious errors. What exactly is regret about errors that were necessary for our moral and religious growth?  How do we avoid using the idea of necessary errors as an excuse for bad behavior? Is the logic of regret the same for “necessary sins” against other people as for “necessary sins” against God?  How can we sometimes consciously turn what was a sin into the origin of what is a positive good?
Tsvi Blanchard
Tuesday, September 8, 11:15am – 12:45pm
Tuition: $20
Click here to register.

What’s God Doing on Rosh HaShanah
Do we believe that God is in time, or does He somehow stand outside of time? How is this question relevant to Rosh HaShanah? Together we will think through some of these philosophical issues, and use them to interpret a puzzling Talmudic debate as to what we have to repent for each year.
Sam Lebens
Thursday, September 10, 11:15am – 12:45pm
Tuition: $20
Click here to register.

Sister Wives? Sarah, Hagar, and the Day of Judgment
The banishment of Ishmael and the Binding of Isaac – read on the first and second days of Rosh HaShanah respectively – are often seen as companion stories of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his own children for God. But what of the mothers in these stories, Sarah and Hagar?  We will examine the two characters, their differences as well as uncanny similarities, in order to understand the root of their opposition to each other.
Miriam Gedwiser
Thursday, September 10, 1:00 – 2:00pm
Tuition: $20
Click here to register.

Themes of Yom Kippur as Reflected in Our Liturgy
Through an examination of the Yom Kippur prayer service, we will uncover major themes of the holiday.
David Silber
Thursday, September 17, 9:30 – 11:00am
Tuition: $20
Click here to register.

Teshuva and Personal Identity
To what extent is it possible to become a new person? Is that what teshuva demands? What does the concept of repentance have to teach us about what and who we really are?
Sam Lebens
Thursday, September 17, 11:15am – 12:45pm
Tuition: $20
Click here to register.