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Summer plans under way at Hartman Institute

Full roster of programs for rabbis, community leaders, educators will fill summer calendar


Jerusalem temperatures remain low, but warm weather is closer than ever at Shalom Hartman Institute, where preparations are well under way for the institute’s summer programs.
Rabbinic Torah Study Seminar and Lay Leadership Summer Study Retreat are not the only programs at the Institute during the summer, but they are the most substantial in terms of numbers and invite open participation.
Shalom Hartman Institute, Lay Leadership Summer Retreat - Summer 2007 - Jerusalem, Israel 
 Lay Leadership participants, summer 2007
For the first time, participants can fully register and pay for these programs online (Click here for rabbinic program registration, and click here for lay leaders program registration).
Antidote to synagogue boredom
Shalom Hartman Institute Co-Director David Hartman has pinpointed boredom as the greatest problem in North American synagogue life. Synagogues are the key entry points into American Jewish communities, but so many are led by tired or burned out rabbis. Congregational rabbis need inspiration and powerful transformative Torah learning as much as their members.
Rabbinic Torah Study Seminar aims to provide just that inspiration and learning to rabbis from any denomination seeking to reignite spiritual fire and leadership drive. In the first two weeks of July, more than 120 such rabbis will study with Hartman Institute scholars and together address the crucial issues facing the Jewish people and Israel.
The participants will scrutinize our classical texts, and seek answers to the burning question: How can this text speak to the pressing issues that inform my life?
This year’s theme, "Core Narratives of Jewish Collective Life," particularly lends itself to this process of understanding text in the context of modern life, says Rabbi Bill Berk, Director of the Center for Rabbinic Leadership. Berk says exploring this theme of narrative is important at an historical moment in which so many Jews are questioning their stories in the face of competing, powerful narratives.
Especially interesting, Berk says, is the interplay between law and narrative. Berk is enthusiastic about the interaction between the Hartman "think tank" and the practical issues the rabbis will bring to the table.
"This summer," Berk says, "is going to be a huge summer for Israeli tourism, and we’re excited to be a part of it."
Rabbinic Leadership Initiative takes the experience of Rabbinic Torah Study Seminar a few steps further. This intensive, three-year program trains an elite group of North American rabbis from all denominations to serve as religious and educational leaders in their communities. The current cadre, the third, will be coming in for its second month-long session this summer.
Common foundations, differing interpretations
Preceding the arrival of the Rabbinic Torah Study Seminar participants (and even overlapping for a couple of days), from June 25 to July 2, lay leaders of all denominations from North America will convene at Hartman Institute to pursue the 2008 theme of core narratives.
Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Director of the Center for Lay Leadership Education, says she is excited about the record number of participants expected this summer. Given the number of returning participants, as well as new participants from the Institute’s Global Beit Midrash program, we are expecting a varied and high quality group of leaders.
"These are the people who influence Jewish communal life all over North America," she says, "and thus these are the people who we want to have a very deep and sophisticated understanding of the challenges facing the Jewish people."
Shalom Hartman Institute Rabbinic Torah Study Seminar - Summer 2007 - Jerusalem, Israel
 Rabbis learning at Hartman Institute, summer 2007
During the eight-day Lay Leadership Summer Retreat participants will study canonical texts and teachings, take informative trips, and view cultural events and encounter Israeli lay leaders.
The theme of core narratives – the stories we tell about our history, beliefs and values that shape who we are as a people – lends itself to varying interpretations. Creation stories tell us what it means to be a human being; the Pesach seder teaches us the responsibilities of freedom, and recounting the revelation at Sinai reminds us of the significance of law and duty.
These narratives and others serve as common foundations of Jewish life, but they also pose questions. The lay leaders will delve into some of these questions during their retreat:  
  • What kind of human being do our narratives seek to create?
  • How do our shared texts and rituals create a unique Jewish identity?
  • What are the core Jewish narratives we all share?
  • How do our shared texts and rituals create a unique Jewish identity?
  • How do different interpretations of core narratives influence Jewish life today?
Lay leaders have the unique opportunity of continuing their learning with the Global Beit Midrash for Lay Leadership – a state-of-the-art Jewish learning program that allows community leaders to explore crucial issues in contemporary Judaism with the guidance of renowned thinkers and leading local rabbis.
With monthly on-site study and long-distance videoconference classes from Jerusalem, Global Beit Midrash serves to enhance lay leaders’ knowledge, critical thinking and pluralistic sensibilities.
A busy summer
Another important program taking place at Hartman Institute during the summer is TICHON, which is a comprehensive program that serves as a planning and resource center for leading community schools in North America.
TICHON addresses the challenge of Jewish education in the Diaspora, and works with the three primary building blocks of education – teachers, principals and curriculum – to enhance the quality of the Jewish education across the continent systematically.
These visits also coincide with Hartman Institute’s annual Philosophy Conference, Board meeting, regular Lev Aharon program for Israeli army officers and other regular programs.

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