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Annual Rapoport Family Memorial Lecture

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Under the Sea: The Song of the Sea and the Creation Stories of the Ancient Near East
Under the Sea: The Song of the Sea and the Creation Stories of the Ancient Near East
The Song of the Sea, the famed song of victory and thanksgiving recited by Moses and the Israelites after crossing the Red Sea and ritualized into our daily prayers, contains an apparent anachronism. In our quest to identify what appears to be out of place and why, we will examine selected excerpts of the Song, study its classical and modern biblical interpretations, and look at both the book of Psalms as well as ancient pagan creation stories. Join us as we seek a better understanding of the Song of the Sea, an iconic piece of the Exodus story.
Only Ten Plagues, or More?
Only Ten Plagues, or More?
The Hagaddah suggests that ten plagues afflicted Egypt, and fifty plagues afflicted them at the Sea. (It even suggests there were fifty, not ten, plagues in Egypt!) Is the number of plagues important? What can the varied enumerations and structures of the plagues as found in Tanakh and rabbinic literature teach us about their desired objective and effect?
Love, Longing and Liberty: Reflections on Shir HaShirim
Love, Longing and Liberty: Reflections on Shir HaShirim
Shir HaShirim is at once the most sacred and most profane book of the Tanach, eliciting reverence and fear — and hence interpretation and re-interpretation — throughout history. This podcast explores how it came to thematize Pesach and how reading it closely might shape our experience of the holiday.
Deception in the Exodus Story
Deception in the Exodus Story
There are many instances in the story of the exodus of God and the nation of Israel’s deception of the Egyptian people. Download this podcast to learn more. The Rapoport Family Memorial Lecture.
The Omer Festival: Recovering a Lost Holiday and its Surprising Roots
The Omer Festival: Recovering a Lost Holiday and its Surprising Roots
We usually think of the Omer as a commandment to count up to fifty days as a bridge between Passover and Shavuot. What is much less familiar is that in certain post-Biblical works the Omer is considered its own festival. This podcast examines the surprising roots of the Omer. It analyzes passages in rabbinic literature alongside writings from the Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo and the early Church Fathers. Listen and learn about the surprising roots of the Omer Festival!
The Machine-Made Matzah Controversy: Law and Tradition in Conflict
The Machine-Made Matzah Controversy: Law and Tradition in Conflict
The acrimonious international debate that ensued in the mid-nineteenth century, when a machine for baking Passover matzot was invented, touched upon essential questions concerning the development of Jewish law and lent expression to deeply-held convictions regarding the relationship between traditional piety and modernization.
You Were Strangers in the Land of Egypt: A Redemptive Reflection on ‘Strangers’ in Judaism
You Were Strangers in the Land of Egypt: A Redemptive Reflection on ‘Strangers’ in Judaism
As Jews we are constantly reminded, “Be kind to the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” and the Pesach seder begins with the words, “Whoever is hungry, let him come and eat; whoever is in need, let him come and conduct the Seder of Passover.” Shuli Taubes will focus on developing a definition of the word ger (stranger) in Tanakh and rabbinic Judaism and its implications for how we think of ourselves in relation to the exodus from Egypt. The Rapoport Family Memorial Lecture 2012.
Home for the Holiday: The Miraculous Crossings of Passover
Home for the Holiday: The Miraculous Crossings of Passover
As modern people living in relation to ancient traditions, how can we conceive of the miracles and wonders that are so tightly woven into the holiday’s fabric? Download this podcast to learn more. The Rapoport Family Memorial Lecture 2011.
Blood, Bread, and Redemption: What is the “True” Story of Pesach?
Blood, Bread, and Redemption: What is the “True” Story of Pesach?
The biblical account of the Exodus has been utilized for millennia as the source-text for discussions on central dichotomies in the human experience (death versus life, slavery versus freedom, and a life of meaning versus a life without). In this lecture, we will explore some of the richest of these readings, and ask how the Passover narratives of the past answered the question, What is the real Passover story?
Israel Unbound: The Legacy of Slavery
Israel Unbound: The Legacy of Slavery
Why do we begin our history as a people with the story of our enslavement? We will explore the role of slavery in the development of our national identity and in our celebration of Passover.
In Your Blood Live, In Your Blood Live: Understanding the Blood of Circumcision, the Blood of the Pascal Lamb and the Blood of Childbirth
In Your Blood Live, In Your Blood Live: Understanding the Blood of Circumcision, the Blood of the Pascal Lamb and the Blood of Childbirth