I’m happy to report this evening we conclude our first foray into Shalom Hartman study. The Shalom Hartman Institute, headquartered in Jerusalem, builds its approach to Jewish engagement based on the vision that “great ideas, and the leaders who embody them, are the way to a better Jewish future.” They are also an outstanding contributor to Israel literacy around the world. It is one of my most important goals to equip you with an excellent Israel education, and Shalom Hartman Institute’s iEngage initiative is an essential and inspiring approach.
As we complete our current curriculum, “Engaging Israel: Foundations for a New Relationship,” we have talked a lot about what it will take to stem the rising tide of disenchantment and disinterest toward Israel among an ever-increasing number of Jews worldwide. One key solution centers around creating a new narrative about the importance of Israel for Jewish life. We heard lectures and discussion from luminary scholars like Rabbi Donniel Hartman, Dr. Tal Becker, Mr. Yossi Klein-Halevi, Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Prof. Gil Troy and others. We studied ancient and modern Jewish texts. We discussed and debated. We have agreed and disagreed. We have learned much together and built a trusting learning community. Kol hakavod to all participants and thanks for engaging.
One big question we consider tonight in our concluding conversation is can we get just as excited about Israel as a “Values Nation,” a light of Jewish and democratic inspiration, as we do about Israel, say, as a “Start-Up Nation,” a paragon of innovation and worldwide transformation. I am looking forward to the conversation.
Our next Shalom Hartman Institute iEngage curriculum is “Together and Apart: The Future of Jewish Peoplehood.” Here’s what Shalom Hartman has to say about this powerful new learning experience:
Today we face new challenges to our unity including nationalism, antisemitism, dual loyalty, and identity politics. More than with video lectures and interviews, textual sources and a leader’s guide – we consider what it means to be a member of the Jewish people, the core values that animate Jewish peoplehood, and the contemporary challenges to Jewish unity. The curriculum examines the forces dividing the Jewish people today, including nationalism, antisemitism, dual-loyalty, and identity politics; and it imagines new conceptual frameworks that can help sustain and grow the story of our people for a new millennium.
We will likely begin this new fourteen-week course late August, but we’ll keep you posted on what to expect. I’ll also let you know of new learning opportunities and other varied ways to engage you. In fact, I am looking to assemble an Adult Engagement Action Team that seeks to organize all sorts of meaningful ways to expand engagement at Emanuel. Learning is but one of the ways; and to be sure there are others for us to discover together and cultivate. If you are ready to step up to this leadership opportunity, please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make it a day of blessing, be a force for good, and stay in the fight for racial justice!
Rabbi Craig Marantz