Nearly 500 Jewish lay leaders, rabbis, and students, and Christian and Muslim clerics, academics, and businesspeople are attending Shalom Hartman Institute programs in Jerusalem this summer to study current issues from a Jewish values perspective.
Participants are coming from more than 30 US states and Canadian provinces, Israel, Brazil, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Uruguay.
Summer program participants will study the ongoing impact of historical events marking anniversaries in 2017, including the 100-year-old Balfour Declaration, the UN Partition vote on Palestine in 1947, and the Six Day War of 1967, as well as the foundations of Jewish peoplehood and belief.
The sessions began in mid-June with the International Philosophy Conference , a three-day gathering of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim philosophers and will end in late July with the departure of US university students doing research internships for the Institute’s iEngage Project.
During their time at the Institute, participants will attend more than 100 lectures, panel discussions, and study sessions, 20 of which will be recorded on video for later posting on the Institute’s websites, and will travel on more than 20 tiyyulim (day trips) across Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Highlights will include meetings with Jewish, Christian, and Muslim leaders inside and beyond the Green Line, a private concert by singer Mira Awad , prayer, songfest, and meditation sessions, home hospitality visits, and a screening of the award-winning Israeli film, ” The Women’s Balcony ,” attended by one of its stars, Einat Sarouf.
Yehuda Kurtzer , President of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, said the Institute’s 2017 summer programs will explore Israel’s challenges and contentious issues facing the Jewish people in an honest, in-depth fashion.
“We do this to alleviate conflict in our communities, not to foment it,” he said.
The Hartman Beit Midrash – study hall – will echo classic Talmudic rabbinic debates, which depicted rabbinic sages as “gladiators” and their arguments as armaments, Kurtzer said.
“Those metaphors pertained to the substance of their debates – vigorous, even violent in content – and not to the way in which they treated one another throughout and after,” he said. “At the same time, these sages created the extraordinary framework of epistemological pluralism that characterizes the rabbinic tradition.”
Rabbi Amy Joy Small of Burlington, Vermont, a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Institute, said that she has been coming to the Institute for 10 years.
“I knew from the first summer that I had found a home there. The outstanding teachers, the range of topics and disciplines, the application of ancient texts to contemporary ideas and challenges, and the pluralistic rabbinic community are immensely enriching,” she said. “The Rabbinic Torah Seminar has invaluably helped to shape and deepen my thinking and perspectives as Jewish leader during a challenging era of change in the Jewish world.”
Rabbi Steven Moskowitz of Congregation L’Dor V’Dor, formerly the Jewish Congregation of Brookville and Oyster Bay Jewish Center, New York, and also a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Hartman Institute said he comes to the Jerusalem program every summer “to reacquaint my spirit with the Jewish vibrancy of this city.
More importantly, he said, “I come to RTS to learn with colleagues who don’t necessarily share my views but who share my passion for Israel and my love for Torah. I welcome the opportunity to take a break from serving as the teacher. The summer’s journey recharges my spiritual batteries.”
The public was invited to one event this summer, a lecture on July 9 by Hartman Senior Fellow and best-selling author Micah Goodman, titled “Catch ’67: The Ideas Behind the Arguments That Tear Israel Apart.” The talk,is the Institute’s annual Edward Bronfman Memorial Lecture. A video recording of the program will be posted online before summer’s end.
The largest summer program is the annual Community Leadership Program (CLP) , which the Institute has been running for decades. Among the more than 170 participants will be members of the Institute’s Board of Directors and fellows of the Avi Schaefer Foundation.
The title of this summer’s CLP program is, “1917, 1947, 1967: The Legacy of The Past and the Future of Modern Israel.”
From the program’s description:
On the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, modern Israel is in search of its future. Looking forward needs us to re-engage with our past, to explore its meaning and consequences, and decide what we should embrace, what needs reinterpretation, and from what we should break free.
#HartmanSummer will address some of the most significant challenges and questions facing modern Israel, reimagining the claims of our past, and imagining the possibilities for our future.
CLP participants are coming from 13 US states and Canadian provinces, Israel, UK, Netherlands, Brazil, and Uruguay. The largest cohort is from Massachusetts. Two synagogues with close affiliations to the Institute, Temple Emanuel of Newton and Temple Beth Elohim of Wellesley, are bringing groups.
In a first this year, the Avi Schaefer Fund of Santa Barbara, California, is bringing 11 Leadership Fellows to the Hartman Institute.
The more than 120 rabbis in the Rabbinic Torah Study Seminar and the 28 in the sixth cohort of the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative will focus their studies on the same theme as the lay leaders, as well as attending elective courses in a variety of topics. The rabbis are coming from 32 states and provinces, representing all regions of the US and Canada, as well as Israel, UK, Netherlands, Brazil, and Uruguay.
The Christian Leadership Initiative , run in conjunction as always with AJC, is bringing its 25 participants to their second and final session in Jerusalem. Their course, “Faith, War, and Peace,” is the capstone of their 13-month program.
The Muslim Leadership Initiative is bringing its fifth cohort of emerging North American Muslim leaders to the Institute. Their course is titled, “Encountering Israel: Foundations of Peoplehood and Faith.” More than 100 individuals have gone through the MLI program since it began in 2013.
The iEngage Project Summer Internship is bringing 13 North American university student leaders to the Institute for a six-week program in which they attend courses and work with Institute researchers on ongoing projects.
Among other first-time events, three students from Wheaton College, a Christian university in Illinois, will be studying at the Institute this summer, as part of their Student Ministries Partner program . After their time at Hartman, they will attend a program in Bethlehem in the Palestinian Authority.
The Hartman summer programs will conclude at the end of July.
Summer may be the busiest time of the year at the Institute, but it isn’t the only time that hundreds of individuals from North America and Europe will attend programs at our Jerusalem campus in 2017. Scores of individuals and groups have already been at the Institute this year.
The remainder of 2017 will feature visits by Jewish community groups from the San Francisco Bay Area, St. Louis, rabbinical students on their year-long programs in Israel, university Hillel directors and students, Christian seminary students, Catholic scholars, North American rabbis, and Muslim leaders.