Join different minyanim, synagogues, and organizations from across Brooklyn in an all-night tikkun at Congregation Beth Elohim. Beginning at 9:15 PM, the program will feature dozens of different lessons from some of the finest teachers in our borough, ending with sunrise services in the wee hours of the morning. This event is a hallmark of the Brooklyn Jewish calendar, and we’re excited to be part of it again this year.
9:15 PM: Shavuot Across Brooklyn Ma’ariv Services
Chapel: Contemporary Creative Ma’ariv led by local clergy and ritualists (available via livestream)
Sanctuary: Traditional Egalitarian Service
Rotunda: Orthodox Service
10:00 PM: Welcome and Introduction to Learning in the sanctuary
10:15 PM – 4:45 AM: Learning
5:00 AM: Sunrise Shavuot Service in the chapel
6:30 PM: Yizkor Memorial Service (available via livestream)
“Commandment 5: Honor Your Parents: Building Legacy/Breaking Cycles” with Naomi Less and Basya Shechter
Naomi Less and Basya Schechter, two teachers, spiritual leaders, musicians and moms of young children explore the complexity of the 5th commandment through music, text, commentary, sacred conversation. Come and find out what is revealed in your heart, mind and spirit.
Naomi Less and Basya Schechter are friends, collaborators, co-fellows at Rising Song Institute and kindred spirits! Chazan Basya Schechter (she/her) was ordained January 2016 by ALEPH Cantorial School, and has been the recipient of numerous compositional and project grants from NY State Council of the Arts and the American Music Center. She is also known for her group Pharaoh’s Daughter, a seven-piece neohasidic world music ensemble that travels effortlessly through continents, key signatures, and languages with a genre-bending sound. Naomi Less (she/her) is a Brooklyn-based, internationally celebrated singer, composer, musician, ritual leader and educator. She is a co-founder of Lab/Shul and serves as ritual leader and associate director. Naomi tours as an artist-in-residence in Jewish communities world-wide, hosts the Jewish Women Rock show on Jewish Rock Radio and collaborates in multi-faith and/or feminist-spaces. She received training in spiritual/ritual leadership, music and education from the Jewish Theological Seminary Davidson School, Institute for Jewish Spirituality and Rising Song Institute.
“Revolutionary Love: A Jewish Idea?” with Rabbi Barat Ellman
Progressive movements increasing speak about modeling the world they want to make and about the importance of love as an element of societal transformation. Judaism doesn’t usually come up in these conversations. The erstwhile Jew Paul captured it for Christianity. But in this session, we will look at what Judaism and Jewish thinkers have to say about Revolutionary Love: the love that makes and sustains progressive change.
Rabbi Barat Ellman, Ph.D. is a progressive rabbi dedicated to the flourishing of all people, and a justice activist committed to anti-racism, criminal justice reform, and police accountability; and to immigrant, refugee, and undocumented people’s rights. She teaches theology, Judaism and Biblical literature at Fordham University, in adult and interfaith education settings, and was formerly on the faculty of the Bard Prison Initiative. Rabbi Ellman is a member of Tirdof: New York Jewish Clergy for Justice and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ); is on the Advisory Committee for Faith Communities for Just Reentry, a coalition organized by Trinity Church, Wall St. She is an active member of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights; CloseRikers/the Freedom Agenda; Communities Not Cages, the HALTSolitary Campaign; and the Coalition to Restore Voting Rights to Incarcerated People in NY State.
“The Goodness of Your Light” with Larry Magarik
Brich Shmey is a prayer individually recited when we open the Ark to take out the Torah. It is rescued from obscurity by the popular congregational melody of its ending, Bey ana racheytz. We will deconstruct this passage, look at its Kabbalistic viewpoint, study its message about Torah and Shavuot, and gather some nuggets for our own spiritual practice. The text will be available in the original Aramaic, Hebrew and English. An optional added or alternative session of music from the prayer will follow.
Larry Magarik is a member of Altshul, has taught at its Bet Midrash, JTS Prozdor, National Havurah Institute, and other venues. He is also a cantor, author of articles in Jewish Bible Quarterly and Kerem, and has been studying the Zohar during the pandemic.
“How can you be an Arab Jew?!”: Artifacts of Jewish life in the Muslim World” with Adam Gaynor
Prior to the 17th century, the majority of the world’s Jews lived in Islamic countries. Yet contemporary stereotypes about the Jewish community as monolithically European, and assumptions about age-old conflict between Jews and Muslims, are two false narratives that deserve to be challenged. In this workshop, we will study together visual images and medieval texts that uncover the rich cultural interplay between Jews and their Arab, Berber and Persian neighbors, dismantling stereotypes about monoculturalism in the Muslim world and uncovering the rich lives of Jews from Muslim lands.
Adam Gaynor, Ph.D., is a founding partner at Plan A Advisors, a management consulting firm for educational, cultural, social justice and other nonprofit organizations. Previously, Adam served in a range of nonprofit leadership positions including Executive Director of the Curriculum Initiative, Assistant Director of the Bronfman Center at NYU, social work consultant with The Educational Alliance, Project Manager at the Center for Social and Environmental Activism in Jerusalem, and Director of Multicultural Affairs at Bates College. Adam holds a BA in Women’s Studies, MS in Social Work, MA in Jewish Studies, and Ph.D. in Education and Jewish Studies. He is a native New Yorker and has been a member of Beth Elohim for 15 years.
“Shema: Our Talisman In Facing Fear” with Rabbi Michelle Dardashti
Join me in unpacking the Shema as a mantra for facing our fears and emerging more confident, courageous and whole. We’ll explore how Shema supports us in times of anxiety and transition and engage in practices that utilize its words as a tool for moving through trying moments in our lives.
Rabbi Michelle Dardashti moved to Brooklyn this past summer to serve as Kane Street Synagogue’s Spiritual Leader. Before Kane Street, Dardashti spent nine years as Associate Chaplain and Rabbi at Brown University and Brown RISD Hillel, in Providence, RI. She was ordained and received a Masters in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary; she is trained in Congregation Based Community Organizing, and before Brown, she served as the Marshall T. Meyer Fellow at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Manhattan and as Director of Community Engagement at Temple Beth El in Stamford, CT. Rabbi Dardashti has spent time living and working in the Jewish community of Montevideo, Uruguay as well as four years in Jerusalem, where she was a student at Hebrew University, a Dorot Fellow, and a volunteer and staff member at a number of NGOs working in the realms of democracy, dialogue and cross-cultural exchange.The daughter of an American folk singer/teacher and an Iranian-born cantor, Dardashti was raised on a brand of Judaism which is multicultural, meta-denominational, musical, and global – she became a rabbi to share the gifts her parents’ eclectic Judaism afforded her: passion, hope, wonder, gratitude, empathy, responsibility and joy; she is committed to nourishing a Judaism that’s broad and deep and engaged with the world. Her writings have appeared in Sh’ma Journal, Jewschool, Siddur Lev Shalem (2016), and in four recent books, One Nation, Indivisible: Seeking Liberty and Justice from the Pulpit to the Streets (2019), Chaver Up: Allyship Through A Modern Jewish Lens (2021), Jewish Theological Grace: Drashot In Honor of Chancellor Arnold M. Eisen (2022) and All Who Can Protest: A Rabbinic Call to End The American Gun Violence Epidemic (2022). Rabbi Dardashti is married to Nathan Sher, who hails from Sydney, Australia. They live in Carroll Gardens with their three children: Eden, Miya and Lavi.
“Gays in the Torah: Queer Readings of Biblical Characters” with Shira Becher and Joseph Hayden
In this session, we will examine some key biblical stories through a queer lens. Queerness and queer people have always existed in Jewish tradition and exploring this through text study is an act of devotion and a reclamation of our stories. In this session, we will take a look at quintessentially queer characters, while also examining other, less commonly queer characters. We will examine such questions as, what does it mean to queer a text? Are there implications or special considerations when queering the Torah or other religious texts? How does a queer reading of religious texts impact my own relationship with Judaism?
Shira Becher (she/her) and Joseph Hayden (they/them) are teachers at the Hannah Senesh Community Day School in Brooklyn, New York. This is Shira’s 13th year teaching at Senesh, currently as 3rd-4th grade Judaic Studies teacher. She graduated from JTS with a Masters in Jewish Education, studied drama therapy, and uses Bibliodrama techniques to help students connect with biblical characters. Joseph Hayden is an 8th grade Humanities teacher in their fourth year at Senesh and 10th year teaching overall. They have master’s degrees in Jewish Studies and education, and a bachelor’s in Classical Languages with an emphasis on biblical literature. At Senesh, we embrace the rich mosaic of identities reflected in contemporary Jewish life and support our families and staff on their individual Jewish journeys. This year, the Senesh Parent Diversity & Belonging Committee and the Senesh staff launched affinity group meet-ups based on interest from the Senesh community including affinity groups for multifaith, LGBTQIA+, and Jews of Color (JoC) parents. Shira and Joseph co-lead a staff LGBTQ affinity group.
“Beereishit: In the beginning, God created the heavens, the earth…and beer!” with Jesse Epstein and James Feder
In this exploration of beer within ancient Jewish text and tradition, Shmaltz Brewing Company (and rabbinical students) teachers and beer enthusiasts Jesse Epstein and James Feder will walk participants through the use, attitude towards, and debates regarding beer in the ancient world, from Torah to Talmud and beyond. They’ll bring along with them plenty of funky Shmaltz Brewing Co beers for participants to sample and enjoy. Why was beer such a big deal in the ancient world? Is it appropriate to use beer instead of wine to make kiddush or havdalah? What does our tradition say about the ingredients that go into beer, or about the culture around drinking it? Join us in discovering the answers to all these questions and more, over a cool pint of our latest brews!
“Born Divided. Israel Vs. Judah: Then, Now, Next?” with Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie with Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie – Session 1 of 4
Can a lesser known chapter from Jewish history help repair the widening rupture in Israel and throughout the Jewish world with a model for co-existence? Join Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie for 4 interactive study sessions (stand-alone or consecutive) weaving biblical scholarship, archeology, and politics to explore what the hidden history of the divided Jewish kingdom can teach us about our present and future realities. The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah lived alongside each other for over 200 years in the Iron Age, ruled by 45 kings & queens, railed at by 20 prophets, as the tribes worshiped multiple deities. A close reading of this historical chapter in Jewish history brings up a timeless and timely question: What if, only when divided, we survive?
Each of the four sessions is stand-alone, focusing on one story from the history of the divided kingdom, from the early divisions during the time of King David to the final destruction by Babylon. No prior knowledge is necessary.
Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie (he/him) is the Founding Spiritual Leader of Lab/Shul NYC and the creator of Storahtelling, Inc. An Israeli-born Jewish educator, writer, and performance artist, he received his rabbinical ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2016. Rabbi Amichai is a founding member of the Jewish Emergent Network, serves on the Leadership Council of the New York Jewish Agenda, is a member of the Global Justice Fellowship of the American Jewish World Service, the Advisory Council for the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, an advisor to the Jerusalem Open House, and is a founding faculty member of the Reboot Network. Rabbi Amichai has been hailed as “an iconoclastic mystic” by Time Out New York, a “rock star” by the New York Times, a “Judaic Pied Piper” by the Denver Westword, a “maverick spiritual leader” by The Times of Israel and “one of the most interesting thinkers in the Jewish world” by the Jewish Week. In June 2017 Rabbi Amichai published the JOY Proposal, offering a new response to the reality of Intermarriage and taking on a personal position on this issue, including his resignation from the Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative Movement. In 2022 Rabbi Amichai began publishing Below the Bible Belt, a daily digital project extended over 42 months, critically queering and re-reading all 929 chapters of the Hebrew Bible. Amichai is Abba to Alice, Ezra and Charlotte.
“Judaism and the Right to Die” with Rabbi Rachel Timoner
Jewish tradition bans medical aid in dying, and until 2020 all movements of Judaism were united in forbidding it in the strongest possible terms. However, a growing chorus is calling for a new approach to end of life, including the right to choose one’s death. Medical aid in dying is now permitted in Canada and 11 U.S. states; and 10 more states, including New York, are considering legislation this year. Is it time for Judaism to change its perspective on this most existential matter? Come study ancient texts and recent responsa as we consider the very basic question of what it looks like to honor life.
Rabbi Rachel Timoner is senior rabbi of Congregation Beth Elohim. From 2009 to 2015, Rabbi Timoner served as Associate Rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, where she was a beloved teacher of Torah and helped to develop a thriving Shabbat Morning Minyan, Community of Elders, Spirituality Workshop, and Community Organizing Leadership Team that took on public transportation, affordable housing, and immigrant rights. Rachel received a B.A. from Yale University, and received her rabbinical degree from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2009, where she was a Wexner Graduate Fellow and was honored with the Lorraine Helman Rubin Memorial Prize for Scholarly Writing, the Women of Reform Judaism Centennial Prize, the Professor Stanley Gevirtz Award for Excellence in Bible, and the Louis and Minnie Raphael Memorial Prize for Outstanding Service to a Small Congregation.
“The Torah of Redemption: Understanding the Role the Messianic Era in Shaping the Torah” with Rabbi Jonathan Leener
Will the Torah as we know it remain the same in the days of the Messiah? This class will explore traditional rabbinic sources to understand how the Messianic era could impact the Torah. The class is open to everyone, and no prior Hebrew knowledge or previous learning is required.
Rabbi Jonathan Leener is the spiritual leader of Prospect Heights Shul, a vibrant and inclusive Modern Orthodox synagogue in Brooklyn. Ordained in 2016 at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, Rabbi Leener is known for his engaging teaching style and his passion for creating inclusive and accessible Jewish spaces. Before joining Prospect Heights Shul, Rabbi Leener co-founded Base BKLYN in 2015 and served as its rabbi until 2022, creating a warm and welcoming space for young Jewish professionals to engage with their faith and community. He has also worked as a rabbinic intern at Sherith Israel Congregation in Nashville, Tennessee and Beth Sholom Congregation in Potomac, Maryland.He is a member of the New York Board of Rabbis and serves as a Faculty Associate Fellow for Pardes North America.
“Tanach Theology and Ours” with Rabbi David Kline
An overview of God notions, citing stories and speeches throughout Tanach. God was not the subject of belief or disbelief, rather an ever-present force and cause, personified in widely different forms. We shall focus on the scope of the theology, the aesthetics, and the contrasting ideas. In an attempt to relate our ancestors thinking to our thinking we shall engage in torah.
Rabbi, HUC 1962. CBE Chevrah Torah leader. Husband, 58 years, to Barbara, dancer. Father to Avram, high school teacher and poet; Aliza, One Table, CEO; Shira, LabShul, Spiritual Leader, music durector. Father-in-law to Dhita Nye, nurse practitione; Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, Park Ave Syng education; Liz Alpern, Ashkenazi chef. Sabba to Ela, ballet student; Gila, senior at Millennium Brooklyn; Nomi, graduating Hannah Senesh; Isaiah Bodhi, 7, soccer and chess; Livneh,1, joy.
Narcan Training with Shana Salzberg
Narcan is an easy to use and safe nasal spray that can save someone’s life, who is having an opioid overdose. In this shiur, participants will learn how to use narcan, and will also be trained in how to test substances for fentanyl using testing strips. We will also discuss the principles and ethics of harm reduction in the context of substance use, and why it has become a popular framework. Participants will receive a Narcan kit and fentanyl testing strips at the completion of the session. (We will have 40 narcan kits that we will give out on a first come first serve basis after the workshop. For folks where writing is in their practice, a sign in will be requested, but not required.)
Shana is passionate about collective healing, community building and harm reduction. They earned their masters in social work at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. They currently practice as a licensed Youth Substance Use Treatment Coordinator at The LGBTQ Center in Manhattan.
“Songs of Light” with Larry Magarik
We will learn several songs from the words of Brich Shmey, the Kabbalistic passage recited when the Ark is opened to take out the Torah. While a tune for Bey ana rachetz is familiar, the intense lines in this prayer have given rise to a number of other compositions. Although reference to the meaning of the words will be made, it is not necessary to attend the text study on the passage in the preceding session.
“Jews for Cheeses” with Rabbi Matt Carl
There are many questions, as well as misconceptions, about the kashrut of cheese. Some of these issues are aged and some are ripe for new understanding. Some of the questions are mild and others sharp. Some of the proposed answers simply stink. Whether you’re sheepish about learning or not, I encourage you to come to the class, ask edam question and hopefully get a gouda answer about the historical and current issues surrounding kosher cheese.
Rabbi Matt Carl has served in communal roles in Brooklyn, both officially and informally, for years and currently serves as the rabbi of Temple Beth-El of Rockaway Park.
“Women in the Tent”: A Big-Tent Approach to Slavery Reparations with Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips
A prophetic reference in the Book of Judges to “women in the tent” leads to challenging questions about how we honor our Torah ancestors in light of today’s reckonings with the legacies of slavery. This session will weave together biblical narratives and rabbinic teachings with international principles of reparations — particularly those concerned with truth-seeking, commemoration, lifelong learning, and cessation of harm. All are welcome to join us for study, reflection, and song.
Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips, MSW, MPH, works at the nexus of social justice, sustainability, and spirituality through Ways of Peace Community Resources (waysofpeace.org/how-to-mourn-and-organize). She is currently organizing the next online cohort of “How To Move Our Money: Practicing Reparations as Spiritual Release.” Regina is author / editor of “Counting Days: From Liberation to Revelation” and “Generous Justice: Jewish Wisdom for Just-Giving.”
“G?d Talk – Uncovering the Holiness Within and Without” with Sarina Elenbogen-Siegel
Join us for an open discussion on G-d and holiness in our lives. Is G-d something you have to “believe” in, or can you simply experience G-d? What terms for G-d feel most alive to you? We will look at texts from various sources that speak to humans’ relationship with the divine. This conversation is not meant to steer us in any particular direction, but rather to allow us to reflect on our spirituality in this time of revelation.
Sarina Elenbogen-Siegel (she/her) is a rising third-year cantorial student at the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, Sarina now lives in Crown Heights with her cat, Lou. When she’s not singing and dancing with her classmates, you can find her rollerblading at the park and exploring New York City.
“Dystopian Future Got You Down? Come and Dream Up Something Better!” with Rabbi Stephanie Kolin
Some days, it can feel like we are barreling toward a dystopian future on a runaway train. But that vision of what’s ahead is not a foregone conclusion. Jewish tradition provides us with admittedly few, but powerful images of end times and redemptive possibilities to help us imagine the contours of a different and more desirable future. In this session, we will take a look at some classic and less classic Jewish texts and dream a bit together about both the horizon toward which we’d rather journey and what it would mean to adjust our trajectory to get there. No prior knowledge of text, futurist thinking, or secret portals to the messianic age required.
Rabbi Stephanie Kolin is a rabbi of Congregation Beth Elohim. She previously served as the rabbi of Union Temple, as a rabbi of Central Synagogue in Manhattan, and Associate Rabbi at Temple Israel in Boston. Before moving back to NYC, Rabbi Kolin was national Co-Director of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Just Congregations, then the community organizing arm of the Reform Movement, and lead organizer and a founder of Reform CA (now RAC-CA), a statewide campaign of Reform congregations to work for a more just and compassionate California. Rabbi Kolin is an Auburn Seminary Senior Fellow and is a contributing author to the Reform Movement’s book on social justice, Moral Resistance and Spiritual Authority: Our Jewish Obligation to Social Justice. She has served as an adjunct professor of the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles and as faculty at the Wexner Foundation. Rabbi Kolin grew up in NYC and lives in Brooklyn with her wife, Jocelyn, and their five year old daughter.
““Too Much Tax Destroyed the Temple: How do we Repair the Rupture?” with Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie – Session 2 of 4
King Solomon’s son’s stupid tax strategy split the kingdom in two. Or is it about more than money? Can this biblical saga help us better understand some of the situation in Israel today and what can be done to improve relations between the different interest groups? A close reading of this historical chapter in Jewish history brings up a timeless and timely question: What if, only when divided, we survive?
Each of the four sessions is stand-alone, focusing on one story from the history of the divided kingdom, from the early divisions during the time of King David to the final destruction by Babylon. No prior knowledge is necessary.
“Dream Climbing through אמת וש׳רה (emet v’shira / truth and song)” with Emet (Ari L. Monts) and Shira Kline
Waking dreams, Conscious dreams, Revelations? Emet and Shira offer text and song to practice dreaming into revelation. Join us to blur the lines between mental practices, body practices, and dream prescriptions. An immersive ritual for revelation to learn from our Bodies, Torah, and Tony Kushner.
Emet (Ari L. Monts) is a writer, ritualist, zine maker, and educator. Their work engages in rigorous play, centering pleasure, participation, and accessibility. Using influences from their Black, trans, dyke, and Jewish spiritual ancestors, from performance and gender theory, and in deep collaboration with those around them, their work is part of a larger web of world building projects. Emet was a 2021 ALEPH Kesher Fellow and are currently part of the SVARA Teaching Kollel. Shira Kline is a queer performance and ritual artist, recognized as a revolutionary educator and named one of the new re-engineers of Jewish life today. Co-founder of Storahtelling and Lab/Shul, she serves as Spiritual Leader weaving liturgy, text, story and song into immersive sacred theatre. Known in the sanctuary as a spiritual adventurist and on the kiddie rock stage as ShirLaLa, Shira practices in the field of sacred play. She tours extensively locally and globally with a vibrant invitation to connect, for a new and realized conscious world and is a frequent guest faculty of numerous international leadership conferences including Hava NaShira, SLBC, PJ Library, and is adjunct faculty for the HUC-JIR Seminary and the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music. Shira is a member of the Mitsui Collective Kollel, building resilient community through embodied Jewish practice.
“Shabbos Schmoozing: Upgrade Your Jewish Hosting!” with Chelsea Simon
Do you have the ingredients for a Shabbos Tish that brings people into a “sanctuary in time?” In this interactive experience, you’ll find the space to explore the elements of creating community on Friday night (or for other holidays and simkhes) that unfolds through rituals, new and old. Crafting an evening of shared art: culinary, musical, discussion — begins with making the most of your hosting, the gifts of your guests, and opening your space (relationally and physically). During these 45 minutes, we’ll co-create the recipes for a Shabbos you’ll love to host over and over again.
In her “Bay Ridge Retreat,” Chelsea Simon hosts Yiddish sleepovers, Shabbos sing-alongs, and klezmer jamz. Chelsea enjoys bringing diverse friends (old and new) together around her Shabbos Tish, adding shared traditions and learning from each other. When she’s not hosting or working, Chelsea plays clarinet and saxophone, creates new cocktails, and explores NYC. She is ABD from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (specializing in Second Temple Jewish History with a focus on the idea of messiah during that time period).
Ladino Songs for Shavu’ot” with Cantor Sarah Myerson
Let’s sing Ladino songs for Shavu’ot! These are songs about Moses receiving the two tablets on Mount Sinai, teaching the laws to the Israelites, and speaking to angelic beings in the wilderness. One song presents a marriage contract between Torah and Israel, with God as matchmaker; another is a love poem between God and Israel. Everyone is welcome! You don’t need to speak Ladino, Judeo-Spanish, or even Spanish to participate, as all song texts will be provided in transliteration and translation. We’ll learn the melodies by ear, so it’s not necessary to be able to read music.
Cantor Sarah Myerson serves Kane Street Synagogue in Brooklyn, New York. She previously served communities in New York, Massachusetts, and Israel. She was commissioned by the Cantors Assembly (2018), and conferred the Diploma of Hazzan and Master of Sacred Music by the Jewish Theological Seminary (2015). She writes and performs new compositions, for example with Jewish spiritual music duo Shekedina, and freelances as a musician, speaker, educator and Yiddish dance teacher and leader. www.cantorsarahmyerson.com
“A Shavuot Sweet” with Kate Snider
Join us for a hands-on cooking class for teens and adults. Participants will prepare cheese and fruit turnovers while discussing how dairy and honey came to be so closely associated with Shavuot. Together we will roll dough, prepare a cheese filling, and create our own, unique Shavuot snack. Participants will bring home ready-to-bake turnovers, along with an individualized recipe card. This recipe includes both gluten and dairy.
This program is presented by Kate Snider in collaboration with The Neighborhood: An Urban Center for Jewish Life. Kate Snider is the community and communications manager at The Neighborhood. With over a decade of culinary experience, both in New York City restaurants and as a community chef educator in the Hudson Valley, Kate has prepared (at least) hundreds of turnovers and is excited to be sharing this recipe on Shavuot!
“Becoming a Jew: Conversion, Transformation, and Rebirth” with Rabbi Royi Shaffin
An exploration of taking on a new identity as a Jew. We will look at examples of people becoming Jewish in the Books of Ruth, Esther, Genesis, Macabees, Josephus, and other sources. We will also look at the beit din, circumcision and mikveh ceremonies to discover how our sources understand the process and ceremony of becoming a Jew.
Rabbi Shaffin is the rabbi of Bay Ridge Jewish Center. He received his MA and was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary and is a PhD candidate at Gratz College. He has written about the parashat hashavua, Jewish education in America, the Holocaust, Judaism and film, modern midrash, Jewish and Israeli politics, and Talmud. He enjoys science fiction movies, travel, and swimming.
“An Intellectual History of the Torah” with Rabbi Ben Keil
We’ll take a look at the key texts, personalities, and technologies that have shaped the conversation around the Oral Torah over the last three millenia. We’ll discuss the different kinds of texts and traditions that developed, and why and how certain personalities and texts carry disproportionate amounts of weight in Torah conversation in different circles.
Rabbi Ben Keil of Congregation Kol Israel is a graduate of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary at Yeshiva University, where he spent three years as a RIETS Israel Kollel member. Rabbi Keil spent three years as the rabbi of the Young Israel of Pelham Parkway Jewish Center before moving to Brooklyn this past summer. Rabbi Keil also works as Operations Manager at UJA-Federation of New York and sits on the Alumni Council of Boston University Hillel.
“Baldwin and the Jews: American Jewish Assimilation in James Baldwin’s Radical Non-Fiction” with Jonathan Taubes
James Baldwin (1924 – 1987) was one of the most prolific American writers of the 20th century. A novelist, essayist, playwright and activist, his work touched on themes of race & civil rights, gender and sexuality, and struggles for personal and social liberation—in many ways anticipating and shaping these themes as we understand them today. In this session, we’ll explore a lesser known area of Baldwin’s work: his engagement with Jewish themes and issues. In several essays between the ‘60s and the ‘80s, Baldwin charts his understanding of American Jewish identity, grappling with the profound mid-20th century shifts affecting the Jewish world through his perspective as a leading Black intellectual. We’ll engage with Baldwin’s articulation of “Jewish whiteness” and upward mobility of the post-WW2 period as a form of assimilation for many American Jews. Baldwin critiques American Jewry from a place of love, with insights ranging from his childhood in Harlem, to the Holocaust, to the Civil Rights era and into the 80s. Through diving into James Baldwin’s rich writings on Jewish themes, we’ll seek to understand the nature of his critique and what implications it might have today.
Jonathan Taubes is an activist-educator from Brooklyn who works at the intersections of Judaism and social justice. He is the Brooklyn Program Manager at Repair the World, where he oversees a local Service Corps for young adults and provides Jewish education to deepen and contextualize community service opportunities. Previously, Jonathan spent four years at the Workers Circle as a political organizer and cultural educator. There, he helped lead campaigns for immigrant rights and voting rights, co-founded the Workers Circle College Network, developed workshops for teen activists, and led Jewish labor walking tours of the Lower East Side. Jonathan has a special passion for uncovering Black and Jewish histories and intersections – especially through the writings of James Baldwin, which he has explored since 2019 in Jewish social, religious and professional settings.
“Manginat Tarjum: Liturgical Music of The Yemenite Jews” with Noah Becker
“Manginat Tarjum” explores the history of the Yemenite Jews through the lens of their prayer music. Jews from Yemen are believed to have left Ancient Israel, essentially initiating the Jewish Diaspora, some 2000 years ago. Their cultural, religious, and musical practices are some of the oldest known amongst Jews the world over. Professional musician Noah Becker has immersed himself in a small community of Yemenite Jews located today in Brookyln, and he is excited to share some of his findings from this rich and beautiful musical world.
Noah Becker is an alto saxophonist, clarinetist and composer raised in Philadelphia and based in New York. His recent activity includes releasing “The Hollow Count” with his band Underthought, his first album as a leader, and “Retumbra”, the eponymous debut from a band he co-leads; recording his third album, “Rival Divers”, release date soon to be announced; performing with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Henry Threadgill, as part of his “Of Valence” project; and conducting ethnomusicological studies in Israel and New York, in preparation for a new project that will explore Jewish attitudes on masculinity and fatherhood. He has performed at venues throughout New York, and has toured nationally and internationally as a leader and sideman. Noah’s music incorporates stark melodies and harmonies, strong rhythmic independence of voices, sinewy orchestrations, and a discerning awareness of music’s ability to shape and alter our experience of the passage of time.
“Zionism in Practice: The actualization of a Jewish Homeland” with Abby Allen and Jessie Sander
In this session, we will look at how Jewish religious texts can be used to both justify and oppose the occupation of Palestinians by Israel. We will use these texts in conversation with primary sources from the early establishment of the State of Israel. Then, we will explore how American Jewish communities can fight against the oppression of Palestinians.
Abby Allen is an educator, activist, and organizer. She currently works as a middle school educator at a synagogue in Brooklyn. In the fall, Abby will start at the Jewish Theological Seminary rabbinical school. Abby’s areas of focus include honest and open social justice conversations rooted in Jewish texts, movement organizing, and curriculum writing. Jessie Sander is a Jewish special educator. She’s studying to receive a Master’s in Jewish Professional Studies at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership. She currently works as a Learning Specialist at a synagogue in Brooklyn. Jessie is committed to creating more equitable, accessible, and anti-oppressive Jewish spaces for people of all ages.
“The Akedah: What if he wanted to do it?” with Rabbi Matt Green
In this close reading of one of our most classic tales, we’ll meditate on the possibility that Abraham actually wanted to do the unthinkable: sacrifice his own son. As we know…he doesn’t do it! But what might we learn from a midrashic version of Abraham who wanted to go through with it?
Matt Green has been at CBE since the fall of 2015 when he started as their Rabbinic Intern, and now serves as their Associate Rabbi. He serves as the director of Brooklyn Jews, CBE’s community of young Brooklynites looking for connection to Jewish culture, time, and ritual. A born and raised Michigander, Matt holds a B.A. in History from the University of Michigan. He was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, where he was a Tisch Fellow.
“The Lion of Judah & the Donkey of Israel: Mythic Creatures at Midnight” with Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie
– Session 3 of 4
Two animals stand watch over the corpse of a prophet in one of the weirdest and moving stories in the Book of Kings which is a biblical parable about war and peace, then and now. How can religious attitudes be less divisive and more uniting in our current reality? A close reading of this historical chapter in Jewish history brings up a timeless and timely question: What if, only when divided, we survive?
Each of the four sessions is stand-alone, focusing on one story from the history of the divided kingdom, from the early divisions during the time of King David to the final destruction by Babylon. No prior knowledge is necessary.
“Embodying The Omer: Yoga, Meditation, and Dance” with Lawrence Dreyfuss
Join us on an exploration where the wisdom of the sefirot converges with the transformative practices of meditation, yoga, and dance movement. We’ll delve into the powerful channels of life-force that intricately map onto different aspects of our bodies through a fusion of guided meditation, dynamic yoga postures, and liberating dance movements. All levels welcome. No prior experience needed.
Lawrence Dreyfuss, RYT200 has a passion for Jewish spirituality and a commitment to holistic well-being, and works as an inspiring yoga and meditation teacher, performance artist, and Ecstatic Dance DJ. As the founder of the vibrant Sabbath Dance, a thriving Jewish ecstatic dance community in Brooklyn, Lawrence fosters a sacred space where movement and celebration intersect. Deeply dedicated to his craft, Lawrence’s journey has led him to delve into the rich realm of Jewish mysticism and contemplative practices in Israel, Guatemala, Colombia and Hawaii. He honed his expertise through a year of studying rabbinics at Hebrew College in Boston and continues to expand his knowledge as a student of Or HaLev, exploring the diverse modalities of Jewish meditation. Certified by Arise yoga studio in Crown Heights, Lawrence has collaborated with organizations such as Moishe House, OrHalev, Temple of the Stranger, and Ruach to deliver transformative experiences.
“Mystical Midnight Madness” with Rabbi Scott Perlo
Night time is the right time! We’ll crack open the mystical goodness of the Zohar and the Kabbalah and peer into the secrets of the Universe. Learn why we stay up all night on Shavuot and what the Shekhinah (Feminine aspect of the Divine) really looks like.
Rabbi Scott Perlo is a leader in the field of Jewish open outreach. He’s taught Torah to thousands of unaffiliated Jews, their partners and those interested in Jewish life of any background. For the last ten years, Scott has worked primarily with Millennials, addressing the specific needs of the next generation of Jewish life. Rabbi Perlo was ordained by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in 2008, and is pursuing a doctorate in Jewish Thought. He is a veteran of multiple cutting-edge Jewish communities, having served as a rabbi at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, rabbi-in-residence at Moishe House and The Professional Leaders Project, and intern at IKAR in Los Angeles. Scott leads trips for Honeymoon Israel, was a founding member of the Jewish Emergent Network and is a Wexner Field Fellow. He currently serves as rabbi of Romemu Brooklyn.
“The Book of Books: The Torah as Object through the Centuries” with Dr. Noam Sienna
What does it mean to encounter the Torah in physical form? Shavuot celebrates the revelation of Torah, and the subsequent relationship between the Jewish people and its books over the following millennia; but while we often focus our discussions on the content of Jewish books, this talk explores their context—how and by whom books are made, distributed, and used. The field of book history has revealed that our relationship with texts is inextricably shaped by their material forms, and so this session explores some of the pivotal moments in the history of Jewish books, from the creation of the Torah scroll itself to the invention of printing and beyond, to offer a new window into how Torah has taken shape in Jewish communities across time and space.
Dr. Noam Sienna is a historian, educator, and Jewish artist. His academic work focuses on Jewish life in the medieval and early modern periods, with a particular interest in book culture. He completed his PhD in History and Museum Studies at the University of Minnesota in 2020. Currently a post-doctoral research fellow with the University of Toronto’s interdisciplinary project “Hidden Stories: New Approaches to the Local and Global History of the Book,” he is completing a monograph on Jewish book culture in early modern North Africa, and starting another one on the history of the Torah scroll.
“Kabbalah and the Printing Press, or, Did Italian Jews Invent Freedom of the Press?” with Sam Mellins
When the printing press appeared in Europe in the 1450s, it gave a new urgency to a centuries-old debate within Jewish tradition: is all knowledge meant to be accessible to all people? In the 1500s, printers throughout Italy produced several editions of various works of Kabbalah, a field of study that for centuries had been the specialized property of an intellectual elite. Some Kabbalists were excited by the potential to make their discipline more widely accessible. But others were concerned that spiritual harm would befall unprepared readers, or that gentiles would use the books for anti-Jewish polemic. Reading the editors’ introductions to the various Kabbalistic books that were printed in Renaissance Italy is a window into how the printers of these books—including the Zohar, in 1557—sought to justify their highly controversial decisions. But it’s not only that. In pursuing a justification for bringing Kabbalah to a wider audience, Italian Jewish publishers also formulated some of the fundamental arguments for the European tradition of freedom of the press, a century before gentile European thinkers.
Sam Mellins is a reporter at New York Focus, a nonprofit news site that covers New York state politics. He holds a degree in history from the University of Chicago, for which he wrote a senior honors thesis on Hebrew book printing in the Italian Renaissance. He presented his research on that topic at the Undergradutate Judaic Studies Conference at Yale University in 2019. Mellins is also a lifelong New Yorker currently living in Astoria, Queens.
“Did Queen Jezebel do it with the Prophet Elijah??” with Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie – Session 4 of 4
Go below the Bible Belt to meet Judaism’s most popular prophet and most reviled queen as they reunite for one more heated debate over religious differences, political priorities, and cultural attitudes that tore the Kingdom of Israel to pieces. By using biblical text, feminist critical theory and a current political lens, what can we learn from their realities about our choices, priorities and options—today, and tomorrow? A close reading of this historical chapter in Jewish history brings up a timeless and timely question: What if, only when divided, we survive?
“Using the Four Species of Succos to sort the forefathers into Hogwarts houses” with Matthew Jacobs
We will explore the connections between some groups of four: The Four Species of Succos; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph; The Four Hogwarts Houses (and Myers-Briggs). We will explore the strengths and weaknesses of each of the Four Species, as well as answering important questions like “Why an esrog? Why not an orange?” Along the way we will learn more about the richness of the text and the richness of ourselves. Quick preview: Esrog: if you want to have taste and smell, you have to spend a lot of time alone. Date palm: must have the flexibility to bend, but if you break it it’s not kosher. Myrtle: has a duality between kindness and compassion, versus fierce burning anger. Managing this duality is key. Willow: “It is not good for a person to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) Arts, music and athletics are essential, not peripheral, to any rich and vibrant community.
Matthew Jacobs has studied Myers-Briggs, Kaballah, the Enneagram, astrology, and various other things. He went to public school and Hebrew school, and kept the Sabbath and kosher until his late 20s. He knows a lot of STEM trivia, but not enough sports or popular culture to be good at trivia contests. In his day job as a software engineer, he sometimes gets to explain complicated systems using simple language.
“asdfghjkl/אסדוגהיכל: A whirlwind history of the alphabet” with Ziv Stern
Why is the alphabet in that order anyway? The English and Hebrew alphabets (as well as hundreds of others) share a common ancestor—whose many versions traveled and changes over thousands of years and thousands of miles. Following the journeys of a few of the quirkiest letters, we’ll learn about how writing was invented in the middle east, how it spread, and how language, history, and material culture shape writing systems. (Bring along your favorite writing system!)
Ziv Stern has a BA in Linguistics from Swarthmore College, and has studied many of the languages whose grubby phonemes our English alphabet has passed through, including Greek, Latin, and German.(He doesn’t claim to be a true expert in this topic, just a knowledgeable fan.) Now, when he’s not nerding out about language, you can find him using language to raise money for indigenous peoples’ land rights in the rainforests of Central and South America, and read books.
“Converts: Why Talmudic Judaism Believes That You Are So Necessary!” with Rabbi Shlomo Fingerer
Join me for a thought-provoking talk that will explore the mystical aspects of conversion and its significance in our national journey as Jews. In this talk, I will delve into the idea that converts are born Jews, and why we owe them a debt of gratitude for choosing to come home to our community. We will also explore the unique Tafkid, or mystical mission, that the Talmud leaves for converts in our millennia-long journey as a people. Practically speaking, I will share tips and insights on how to navigate interactions with fellow Jews who may not fully understand or accept the validity of a convert’s journey. Whether you are a convert yourself or simply interested in learning more about this important topic, this talk promises to be enlightening and engaging. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the mystical and practical aspects of conversion in our Jewish community
Rabbi Shlomo Fingerer brings a unique perspective to his teachings as a Pluralistic-Haredi-Rabbi, having spent a decade exclusively studying Talmud in the cloistered Israeli-Type-Haredi holy enclave, followed by a decade among the modern world at Columbia University. As the oldest of fifteen children, Rabbi Fingerer has always been a natural leader and enjoys engaging in learning with members of his community. After many years, he found his spiritual home in Brooklyn’s Jewish communities, where he met Melody at the Prospect Heights Shul, and they have been married for three years. Rabbi Fingerer is proud to be a “Convert-In-Law” and lives his Talmudic values. Rabbi Fingerer is passionate about the interaction of Talmud, Kabbalah, science, economics, and sociology. He believes in the synergism of Charedi values and liberal knowledge, and he is eager to share his insights with others. Join Rabbi Fingerer for an engaging and enlightening class on the intersection of Talmud and contemporary issues.
“OG the O.G.: Primordial monsters in Jewish Mythology” with Zev Hurwich
Jewish texts are full of primordial monsters. Giants whose footfalls literally shook the earth, sea monsters of untold vastness. Space dragons who rule over magic. What are the ties that bind them? What part of the ancient Jewish psyche latched on to these myths, and why are they still so captivating today?
Zev Hurwich is a professional podcaster and with a love of studying Jewish magic and mythology. He has given several talks on subjects ranging from Jewish Spellcraft, to Demonology at synagogues, schools, and the occasional bar. When his nose isn’t pressed against an ancient grimoire he can be found making his scifi mystery show “The Pale” in his Crown Heights apartment.
“Beit Midrash as Experiential Art” with Dov Alpert
Come be part of a collaborative Torah study experiment inspired by Aggadah and Midrashic commentary. Take any interpretation of Torah and it’ll be saturated with exegesis. Layers of fables, exposition, analysis, and interpretation have become the volumes of iconic subtext that define our understanding of biblical narrative. Midrash, the earliest commentary, is as mythical in origin as the Torah itself. What would it be like to study a midrash before it went through generations of scholarly meditation, when exploring the depths of Torah was a self-guided expedition? This session will experiment with composing our own creative interpretation of a cryptic text by studying an original midrash and its initial annotations written by Dov. In classic beit midrash style, we’ll go over the midrash before breaking into partners to explore the text and commentary deeper. We’ll end with a roundtable discussion to see where our learning has taken us.
Dov has been a Judaic teacher, experience designer, movie maker, and creative writer. He now produces marketing videos for a living and tutors kids in reading for fun. He has no expertise relevant to this class but shares a birthday with Charlie Chaplin and that has to count for something. Dov has been telling stories and dissecting narratives for as long as he’s been studying Torah, which is since he was old enough to ask the 4 questions on Passover. He wrote the midrash used in this session after covid canceled other plans for the idea. This session is an experiential art project that’s part of a multimedia series revolving around the biblical character Rebecca.
“What is a miracle?” with Phil Getz
Several Jewish holidays commemorate miracles, but what constitutes a ‘miracle’ as far as the rabbis are concerned? This class will address the halachik definition(s) of ‘miracles’ and explore whether certain modern historical events meet the criteria.
Phil Getz is senior editor for history and religion at Palgrave Macmillan.
“Finding satisfaction in unsatisfying truths and texts” with Rabbi Matt Green
While the Rabbis tend to see the world suffused with meaning and potential redemption, occasionally they explore a sadder and less hopeful side. In spite of this, how do we still find hope? Join us as we explore some Midrashic, Mishnaic, and philosophical texts– as well as some help from Nietszche.
“Singing to Sinai: Pre-Hashkama Nigonim (Wordless Melodies) to Get Us Up This Mountain” with Russ Agdern
We will some nigonim together to get ourselves ready for the hashkama minyan and receiving the Torah.
PLEASE WEAR A MASK WHILE ATTENDING THIS SHIUR.
Russ Agdern really just likes singing nigonim (wordless melodies) with you. He helped start a few Jewish things here in Brooklyn and can be found at Shir HaMaalot on Second Fridays and some other places. Russ especially loves singing with his family and loves that they like singing zmiros and also John Boutte’s Treme song as much as him.
“Music and Movement Inspired by Dalcroze Eurhythmics and Pauline Oliveros” with Shoshana Klein
We will wake up by doing some fun movement games, singing, improvisation, and deep listening practices (possibly going outdoors as well?). Dalcroze Eurhythmics is a system of music education that uses movement to internalize rhythm and express musicality. Pauline Oliveros was an amazing composer and thinker who wrote a series of “deep listening” scores, that provoke thought, attention to sound, and also sometimes movement! No musical experience necessary!
Shoshana Klein (she/they) is a trained classical musician trying to break out of the box of classical music as much as possible. They are also an arts administrator and proponent of new music, thinking endlessly about the role of music in different community spaces and the world. Shoshana is particularly interested in contemporary applications and social impacts of music and has performed dozens of world premieres and original compositions, including performances at venues in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, North Adams, Massachusetts; and New York City. Shoshana works with electronics and video, and thinks about how different artistic mediums can work together to enhance an experience.
SHAVUOT ACROSS BROOKLYN 5783 IS CO-SPONSORED BY:
Bay Ridge Jewish Center
Congregation Beth Elohim
Flatbush & Shaare Torah Jewish Center
Hannah Senesh Community Day School
Jewish Agency for Israel
Park Slope Jewish Center
Prospect Heights Shul
Kane Street Synagogue
Kolot Chayeinu / Voices Of Our Lives
The Neighborhood: An Urban Center for Jewish Life
UJA Federation of NY