Friday, April 8, 2011

Happenings at the Yeshiva

This week was a quite eventful one.  On Sunday, Rabbi Love and I were in Atlanta, GA, where we presented Rabbi Zev Farber (YCT 2006) with his Yadin Yadin klaf.  While Rabbi Farber had already received this higher ordination at last year's semikha ceremony, the klaf had not been ready at that time.  This last Sunday, then, was an opportunity to present Rabbi Farber with his klaf and to celebrate this profound milestone together with his family and in his home community.   The ceremony took place at the Young Israel of Toco Hills, where Rabbi Adam Starr serves as Rabbi.  I had been the Scholar-in-Residence over Shabbat, and the entire community had been engaged in seriously learning leading up to this ceremony.   Rabbi Love and Rabbi Farber spoke at the event, and afterwards the three of us held a panel on the topic of "Women and Converts in Positions of Communal Authority."  We wish Rabbi Zev, his wife Chani, his beautiful children and his entire family and community a tremendous Mazel Tov for receiving this semikha, a testament not only to his prodigious learning, but to his commitment to truly shape the future of Orthodoxy through the rabbinate and role of a posek.

We also had many prospective students visiting us this week, and next year's incoming class promises to be of significant size and quality. 

Merle Feld taught this Wednesday and Thursday her regular sessions on Writing as a Spiritual Practice, both to individuals and a student group.  We have been blessed to have her come in once a month to hold these sessions, which are so treasured by the students who take them.  This week was her last one with us for this year, and she shared with all the students after mincha on Thursday a poignant poem that she wrote on the "Third, Simple Son."  She also shared with the students a packet of poems that she had published which relate to themes of Pesach - a true Pesach gift to us all.

On Thursday, as part of our Visiting Scholars Series, Dr. Wendy Zierler, associate professor of Feminist Studies and Modern Jewish Literature at HUC-JIR in New York and author of And Rachel Stole the Idols: The Emergence of Hebrew Women's Writing (2004), spoke to students about Hava Shapiro, a significant Jewish woman author of the early 20th century.   Students were rapt with attention as Dr. Zierler discussed this figure and her writings, and how she straddled the worlds of traditional Judaism and the haskalah, and the particular challenges that faced her as a serious, educated Jewish woman.  Dr. Zierler ended with a powerful excerpt of Shapiro's on the experience of preparing for Pesach in Eastern Europe in the early 20th century.

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