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Kinot, Tisha B’Av 5780

Posted: 07/30/2020
Kinot, Tisha B’Av 5780
A discussion of selected kinot (dirges) from the Tisha B'Av liturgy. Led by Rabbi Daniel Reifman and Rabbanit Aliza Sperling, this will be a chance to look closely at the themes of mourning and destruction central to Tisha B'Av and to connect them to our contemporary lives
Exodus: The Prequel

Posted: 03/25/2020
Exodus: The Prequel
In this class, we revisit Genesis chapters 18-19 through the lens of a curious midrashic comment.  Noting that Lot serves matzah to his angelic guests, the midrash explains, "It was Passover."  What could Passover possibly have to do with the story of the destruction of Sodom and the foretelling of the birth of Isaac?   A close analysis of the imagery and themes of these chapters reveals profound insights into the nature of divine punishment and benevolence, and tells us a great deal about the Israelites' experience on the night of the Exodus.
Preparing Our Homes for Pesach: The history behind contemporary practice

Posted: 04/01/2020
Preparing Our Homes for Pesach: The history behind contemporary practice
We spend the weeks before Passover in a frenzy of cleaning activity.  Join us as we take a step back to consider the history and theory behind our modern Passover preparations, beginning with the talmudic sources and continuing all the way to contemporary responsa. Our first class will examine the roots of the various means by which we rid homes of hametz: bedikah and biur (search and destroy), mekhirah (selling) and bittul (verbally nullifying).  Our second class will trace the parameters of the laws of kashering: why different materials and types of utensils require different methods, and how traditional kashering techniques have been adapted to modern kitchens.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Biblical Criticism (Pt. 2)

Posted: 09/06/2019
What We Talk About When We Talk About Biblical Criticism (Pt. 2)
Higher criticism of the Bible is one of the major theoretical issues dividing today's Jewish community.  Many progressive Jews triumph the Documentary Hypothesis as a major achievement of modern scholarship, while traditional Jews typically dismiss it as heretical.  We will go beyond the standard arguments regarding the Torah's authorship by considering the dynamics of reading that underlie both traditional and modern critical perspectives.  We will then offer a more fundamental analysis of what it means to make meaning out of a text, and suggest that traditionalists and text critics ultimately have more in common than meets the eye.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Biblical Criticism (Pt. 1)

Posted: 09/06/2019
What We Talk About When We Talk About Biblical Criticism (Pt. 1)
Higher criticism of the Bible is one of the major theoretical issues dividing today's Jewish community.  Many progressive Jews triumph the Documentary Hypothesis as a major achievement of modern scholarship, while traditional Jews typically dismiss it as heretical.  We will go beyond the standard arguments regarding the Torah's authorship by considering the dynamics of reading that underlie both traditional and modern critical perspectives.  We will then offer a more fundamental analysis of what it means to make meaning out of a text, and suggest that traditionalists and text critics ultimately have more in common than meets the eye.
Exodus: The Prequel (Why did Lot serve matzah to the angels?)

Posted: 03/25/2018
Exodus: The Prequel (Why did Lot serve matzah to the angels?)
Recorded from a webinar given March 25, 2018.
Balancing Acts: Legal and Moral Perspectives on End-of-Life Decisions

Posted: 08/05/2016
Balancing Acts: Legal and Moral Perspectives on End-of-Life Decisions
The decisions we make in caring for a dying patient are fraught with emotion. They are also the subject of intense debate among medical professionals and bioethicists, no less within the Jewish community than within society at large, and the tension between traditional Jewish and modern secular positions often complicates these decisions even further. The difference between modern and traditional perspectives on end-of-life care is often framed as the choice between honoring the patient’s autonomy vs. insisting on preserving every moment of life. Yet closer analysis reveals a more complex picture, as halakhists and bioethicists struggle to balance the needs of patients, caregivers and family members. Join us we take a fresh look at some of the key legal and moral issues in this important contemporary discussion.
Parashat Behar

Posted: 08/05/2016
Parashat Behar
Parashat Ki Tetze

Posted: 08/05/2016
Parashat Ki Tetze
Parashat Ki Tavo

Posted: 08/05/2016
Parashat Ki Tavo
Keeping Kosher: Rationales and Legal Formalism, Science and Pseudo-Science

Posted: 08/05/2016
Keeping Kosher: Rationales and Legal Formalism, Science and Pseudo-Science
Through an in-depth study of both legal and philosophical texts, we will address the fundamental question: How much does Jewish law need to "make sense" in order to be meaningful? This is a recording of the fifth session of a five session class.
When Text and Tradition Collide

Posted: 08/05/2016
When Text and Tradition Collide