Friday, May 2, 2014

Message from the Rosh HaYeshiva

I hope you all are well and are enjoying the much delayed onset of spring. Our Post-Pesach zman is going strong, as first- and second-year students continue their Gemara learning and third- and fourth-year students continue their learning of hilkhot aveilut in the morning, and their related lifecycle classes in the afternoon on death and dying, the funeral, and the shiva.They will be visiting a funeral parlor next week and talking to one of the directors to give them a more immediate sense of what it will mean to officiate at a funeral and to be a supporting presence for the bereaved.

This zman we began an exciting 5-week mini-series taught by Dr. Steven Bayme on Modern Israel and Israeli Society. This course uses Anita Shapira, Israel: A History as its text, and will cover the topics of the Legacy of the Holocaust, Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Religion and State, Israel and American Jewry, and The Dilemma of the Settlements. The goal is to gain a deeper understanding of, and develop critical thinking on, these important topics, which will help them in their future role as educators and religious leaders in this area. The course is being livestreamed, and you are all invited to watch it live on Wednesdays at 2:45 (next Wednesday there will be an additional class at 4:15) or recorded, by clicking here.

On Monday, Yom HaShoah, 2nd-year student Jon Leener led a discussion after mincha focusing on "spiritual resistance." There was a discussion of the meaning of spiritual resistance, followed by chavruta learning around selections from Victor Frankl's book Man's Search For Meaning. The program ended with shared reflections and discussions around these readings. We are looking forward next week to commemorating Yom HaZikaron, and to celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut, with powerful programs also conceived and planned by students. It is so meaningful to be able to experience these days, and the emotions and reflections that accompany them, together as a yeshiva community.

Finally, I will be participating on a panel this Sunday at 10:30 AM at Ramath Orah (110th Street and Broadway) on the topic of Income Inequality. I will be on a panel together with Rabbi Saul Berman, Professor Miriam Udel, and Ms. Shana Novick. The event is being sponsored by Congregation Ramath Orah, UJA Federation of NY, and YCT Rabbinical School. For more information see here. I hope you will be able to attend.

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