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Hartman Institute Graduates Third Cohort of Rabbinic Leadership Initiative

The third cohort of the Hartman Institute’s Rabbinic Leadership Initiative received their graduation certificates at a ceremony on July 5, 2010. Graduation speeches of two participating rabbis are included in this item

The third cohort of the Hartman Institute’s Rabbinic Leadership Initiative has nearly completed its three-year program of learning, fellowship, and visits to Israel. The group’s 27 members, who are in Jerusalem for most of July, received their graduation certificates at a ceremony on July 5, 2010.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky was the featured speaker, and both Hartman Institute President Donniel Hartman and Founding President David Hartman spoke. A video of the ceremony will be posted online.
Two of the graduating rabbis spoke, as well, Rabbi Alan B. Lucas of Temple Beth Sholom, Roslyn Heights, New York, and Rabbi Mari Chernow, Temple Chai, Phoenix, Arizona.  Click here for Lucas’s talk. Click here for Chernow’s talk.
The group, which became close as friends, as well as professional colleagues, plans additional get-togethers in coming months, and the Institute plans to continue its relationship with them.
Rabbinic Leadership Initiative Graduation, July 2010, Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem, Israel
Rabbinic Leadership Initiative Group Three, Graduation, July 2010,
Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem, Israel
By Alan B. Lucas
Ayze makom, hamakom hazeh
Makom torah
Makom ahava, Makom Yirah,
Makom Norah
Ayze Makom Hamakom Hazeh
Baruch Hamakom – Baruch Hu
Baruch Shenatan Torah L’amo Yisraey
We come to this place to learn Torah – we come from around the world – from America and Canada and South America and Israel – we are Reform Jews and Conservative Jews and Orthodox Jews and Reconstructionist Jews – we are New Age Jews and Old Age Jews, We are Denominational Jews, Post Denominational Jews and Trans denominational Jews; we are gay Jews and straight Jews; we are learned Jews and learning Jews; – and for all our labels, here we are Jews – here, bmakom hazeh, in this place we learned the value of labels and their limits – here, b’makom hazeh – we learned in a tarbut shel machloket – how to disagree with love.  

Rabbi Alan B. Lucas, Senior Rabbinic Fellow, Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem, Israel

Rabbi Alan B. Lucas, Senior Rabbinic Fellow,
Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem, Israel, July 2010
For here, b’makom hazeh – in this place – there is something more important than being right — it is being whole, and being a part, and caring and sharing.
Ayze Makom Hamakom Hazeh
I am so glad that our honored guest at these ceremonies is Natan Sharansky – in his current role as chairman of the executive of the Jewish Agency he is leading the Jewish Agency in a new direction as announced at their Board of Governors Meeting last week. Its stated purpose is to move the Jewish Agency from state-building to identity building. Decrying what he describes as: “declining Jewish solidarity, the weak sense of belonging to the Jewish people and the lack of meaningful connections between Israel and world Jewry” – well I for one could not agree more with your description of the major challenges that confront us – and given these challenges – you sir have come to the right place for what ails us.
Rabbi Chayim of Volozhin, once told the following story, of a nobleman driving a carriage drawn by four large horses that was caught in a rainstorm. The carriage veered from the main road and its wheels sank in the mud. The man kept lashing his horses but to no avail; the horses were stuck, unable to budge the carriage. A peasant with three small ponies soon passed by and asked if he wanted any help.
The nobleman laughed – “If my strong horses from the best stables in Europe can’t move the carriage, what can your scrawny ponies accomplish? Look you want help, you don’t want help? Skeptical as he was – he had few options so he unharnessed his mighty steeds and allowed the ponies to be harnessed to his carriage.
The peasant gave one stroke with his whip and the ponies dragged the carriage out of the mud. The nobleman was astonished as he looked on incredulously and asked the peasant how these ponies could accomplish what his four large horses could not. The peasant asked the nobleman where he acquired his horses. The nobleman replied that they were bought from four of the world’s finest stables.
“There is your problem right there.” Said the peasant. “Your horses are rivals and feel animosity toward each other. When one is lashed, the other three are happy and don’t even try and help. My ponies might be small but they are brothers. When one is lashed, the other two try to save him with all their strength.
Ayze makom, hamakom hazeh– it may be small – but here in this place Jews are brothers and sisters – here we feel each other’s pain and pull with all of our strength when any one of us feels the sting of the lash. Here at the Shalom Hartman Institute – with the hundreds of lay leaders and rabbis and scholars that it attracts – here we pull together for the welfare of Klal Yisrael.
If indeed you are concerned about a lack of meaningful connections between Israelis and world Jewry – than this place is the cure for what ails us.
If indeed you are worried about declining Jewish solidarity – this is a place where Jews stand shoulder to shoulder – no matter what other labels we embrace – here we embrace each other.
Twenty seven of us have been given a wonderful and very precious gift – of three years in this place. We are indebted to Moreynu V’rabeynu – David Hartman and Doniel Hartman for creating this place – and making it the unique makom torah that it is and for giving us the opportunity to learn here, in Jerusalem. We are forever indebted to the wonderful scholars at whose feet we sat these last three years.
The unique hashkafa of this place has now become part of us, and our rabbinates, and now nourishes our communities far and wide. We are forever grateful to Bill Berk who put his heart and soul into this program, to all the marvelous staff here at Hartman, Sharon Laufer, Marlene Houri.
Amar Rebi Hanina: Harbey lamadti mirabotai, u’mayhaveyrai yoter m’rabotai…
“Rabbi Hanina said: I have learnt much from my teachers and from my colleagues even more than from my teachers…
What a gift it is to be a haver.
Doniel and Bill would always insist that the hevruta relationship was at the very core of the Hartman approach. And we 27 now understand that in ways that you the member of RLI IV will soon come to appreciate. My last word is to you – my 26 haverim. What a privilege it has been to learn with you, argue with you, laugh with you and cry with you. I am a better rabbi and a better person today because of you. More than I will miss these incredible teachers and the privilege of learning with them, more than I will miss the joy of the warm Jerusalem sun and a leisurely coffee in the Machon courtyard –more than all of these, I will miss you.
Ayze makom, hamakom hazeh
Makom torah
Makom ahava Makom Yirah
Makom Norah
Ayze Makom Hamakom Hazeh
Hamakom Yinacheym otanu b’toch shear ohavei tzion v’iruslayaim
Baruch Hamakom – Baruch Hu
Baruch Shenatan Torah L’amo Yisraeyl
By Mari Chernow
What an honor it is to speak this afternoon as we conclude the incredible experience that has been RLI 3. I was asked to share a few words about what have learned in the last three years, which is of course, an impossible task. I could not possibly capture the depth or the breath, the richness or the profundity of the texts we have studied or the teachers who have taught them. We have been on a greatest hits tour of Jewish thought for three years. And rather than try to share that all with you now, I want to reflect briefly on three great gifts we have been given by the machon.
First, the gift of ideas. The great books series. The fundations of ethics, spirituality and community. The constant reminder from David Hartman to bring our most serious selves to our rabbinates, to trust that the Jews back home can handle complexity and uncertainty and will be better off for it. The marriage of classical text to wisdom from outside the tradition. The living commitment to pluralism. The model of a serious Judaism, a thinking person’s Judaism, God-intoxicated Judaism. The gift of these ideas will influence our life’s work and we hope in turn, those we encounter and teach from here on out.

Rabbi Mari Chernow, Senior Rabbinic Fellow, Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem, Israel

  Rabbi Mari Chernow, Senior Rabbinic Fellow,
Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem, Israel
Second, the gift of our teachers, our dear teachers. Their readings of text have more than once stunned us into silence or motivated a sea change. Their love of text has time and again been a source of both inspiration and admiration. They have brought their own dear teachers into the room and so we have learned with not only the sages of the Talmud, the kabbalists and Jewish theologians but also with the likes of Aristotle, Kant, Rawls and Fromm. And I would be remiss if I did not mention the greats of this institution, the venerable RamBam and Soloveitchik, who I believe, are in ongoing communication with Rabbi David Hartman. How we have loved overhearing just a little bit of those conversations.
We have learned from our teachers that a great and powerful intellectual can also, should also, be startlingly vulnerable at times. We have rekindled our love for the prose and poetry of the Jewish people. We have been reminded that the intellectual and the inspiring are one and the same. Three years of sitting at the feet of our teachers has been more than we could have asked for, and yet we will certainly be back for more.
Finally, the gift of community. To tell you the truth, this gift came as a surprise to me. As did the fact that in the three years the RLI has spent together, nearly all of our lives have changed. Some have made aliyah, been blessed with the birth of grandchildren or moved to new and exciting jobs that will help shape the Jewish future. More striking, however, is how many have endured major challenges of a personal and/or professional nature. Losses of loved ones, communities in trouble, relationships in crisis.
Some, of course, are the natural ups and downs of life and love. Others, however, go to show what both Donniel and David Hartman have told us many times – that while the paths we have chosen as rabbis are meaningful, rewarding and deeply fulfilling, they can also take quite a toll on the soul and psyche.
What we have learned (or been reminded) in these three years is that the trajectory of rabbinic life need not lead to exhaustion and burnout. In fact, there is an antidote. And that is the well known gem from Pirke Avot: aseh lecha rav ukneh lecha chaver. In our teachers, in our peers, in our colleagues we have found a community of rabbanim and chaveirim.
We have studied together, prayed together, and even endured some uncomfortable moments of difference. We have always emerged with respect and appreciation. If we came here with a tolerance for those who believe or practice differently, we are leaving with nothing short of a deep affection.
Perhaps we came here to expand our repertoire of favorite texts, to recharge our teaching, to revitalize our communities. Make no mistake – all of that has happened. And then some. But in addition to all that, by learning from each other together we have expanded our minds, recharged our passion, revitalized our very souls.
With that in mind, I will conclude with a word of thanks. Modim nachnu lachem. We are profoundly grateful. To all those who supported our being here. To our communities who understood why we went off to Israel twice a year even in these tough economic times. To all those who support the machon, who trust that an investment in rabbis is an investment in the health and strength of the Jewish people. We are humbled by that responsibility but will do our best to live up to it.
And above all, to the faculty and the staff of this great institution. There are too many people to mention all by name but I cannot help but say a special word of thanks to Marlene and Sharon who ensured that our every need was met while we were here. To the visionary, dare I say prophetic? leaders of the machon, our rabbis, our teachers David and Donniel Hartman. And finally, to Rabbi Bill Berk, director of this program, who served as our teacher, administrator, advisor, mentor and occasional camp counselor. Bill, you are a rabbi’s rabbi and your work and care will not be forgotten.
There are so many people whose kindness of mind, heart and resource made RLI 3 possible. May it be God’s will that the gifts we have so cherished these past three years, the gifts they have given so freely and generously be returned to all of them many many fold.

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