Join us as a number of Brooklyn’s minyanim, synagogues, and organizations come together for Shavuot Across Brooklyn, an all-night teaching and learning celebration commemorating the giving of the Ten Commandments.

Beginning at 9:00 PM, the program will feature dozens of different lessons from some of the finest teachers from across Brooklyn, ending with sunrise services at 5:00 AM.

All learning sessions will be in person unless otherwise indicated, dispersed throughout the CBE Rotunda and the ground level of the Temple House with two small tents for outdoor learning sessions on the corners of 8th Avenue. Please refer to CBE’s current COVID-19 policy prior to attending in person.

Schedule

9:00 PM: Shavuot Across Brooklyn Ma’ariv Services
Chapel: Reform Service led by CBE and Kolot Chayeinu Clergy (available via livestream and Zoom)
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

Learning Lineup

10:15 PM: Learning Block One

“Cultivating a Grateful Heart” with Rabbi Molly Kane

This study session will hold the possibility that the way to be present to living is through gratitude and that gratitude is the answer to transformation, behavior shift, and mindful living. We will explore text that support these ideas, think about ways to develop a spiritual practice of gratitude, and engage in some mindfulness practices to embody gratitude on this night of Shavuot.

Rabbi Molly Kane is CBE’s new Director of Youth and Family Programs. Rabbi Kane most recently served for ten years as the Associate Rabbi-Educator at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue. Rabbi Kane focuses on the full arc of childhood and family experiences and education — from birth through the teen years — bringing an overarching and integrated vision to oversee our world-class directors of the Early Childhood Center, Yachad, and Afterschool/Camps.

“Psalm 104, What a Wonderful World” with Rabbi David Kline

This session will be held over Zoom. Click here to join.
Psalm 104 is perhaps the most philosophic passages in Tanach. Classifying it as one of the wisdom Psalms is an understatement. I’s description of the way the world works amounts to a third creation story. It’s distinction between animal and human nature suggests Aristotle. This Psalm tells us the inspiring meaning of our HaMotsie b’rachah.

Retired rabbi from pulpits in New York, Philadelphia, Colorado Springs, Louisiana, Brandeis,1957. HUC 1962. Hebrew University, Columbia University. Mir Y’shivah. Married to Barbara Kline. Father of Avram, poet and HS teacher; Aliza, Boston Mayyim Chayyim and One Table; Shira, singer, teacher, Spiritual Leader at LabShul. Grandfather of 5, 18 years old down to 4 months old. Teacher of CBE’s Chevrah Torah class.

“The Torah before the Torah: The Kabbalistic Origins of the Torah” with Rabbi Jon Leener

Explore the mystical origins of the Torah through Kabbalah.

Rabbi Leener is the rabbi of Base BKLYN and the Prospect Heights Shul.

“Shiru LaMelech: Piyut for Shavuot” with Larry Magarik

A special piyut, or prayer poem, was composed by the medieval Simon bar Isaac ben Abun of Mainz to elaborate the angelic chorus in the morning blessings before the Shema. The piyut, V’atah Vanim, has an intricate poetic structure, and was adopted for both days of Shavuot based on its theme. We will learn the popular song Shiru LaMelech, by the contemporary composer Hillel Palai. We will study the poem and examine its relationship to the holiday and to the way human actions affect the larger cosmic picture.

Larry Magarik is a member of Altshul, and 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 an attorney.

“Revelation Revisited” with Rabbi Paul Resnick

This is an interactive session where each participant brings their own perspective to the table. Perhaps an artist will see the revelation in one way which is different than the way a teacher does; a lawyer brings their own thinking which is different than a busyness person. We will study texts from the Torah to Miriam Webster to Midrash.

Rabbi Resnick is Kane Street Synagogue’s Interim Rabbi. Prior to serving at Kane Street, Rabbi Resnick led Camp Ramah in the Berkshires for 32 years, first as Director and then as Senior Director of Engagement and Planning. Altogether he spent 40 summers at Ramah. He has also served pulpits in Millburn, NJ and Hewlett East Rockaway, NY. Rabbi Resnick and his wife Martha raised three children, is active at his home shul in Teaneck, NJ and has been a saba for 19 months!

“Having and Wanting: Capitalism, Loneliness, and Liberation” with Rabbi Rachel Timoner

Come help me workshop a set of ideas-in-progress. Looking at the connection between Torah texts on Shabbat, Shmita (sabbatical year), Yovel (jubilee), and blessings and curses, with contemporary questions about capitalism, greed, inequality, and the defunding of public goods; loneliness, mass incarceration, gun culture, and mass extinctions; and how we find the way home. The presentation will be incomplete and just a beginning. I am hoping you will partner with me to make it better.

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.

“Sensory Story Telling” with Zahar Vaks

The workshop will include a demonstration of incorporating non traditional art materials such as clove oil, turmeric, and beet powder to show participants how they can create a multisensory art work that can incorporate scent and a unique texture. I will also demonstrate how we can incorporate other disciplines to be woven together with their art works. I will using the violin to demonstrate my martial melody series. The participants can then make a drawing in response to a memory. These can be automatic, as loose or as tight as the participant likes. The drawings would be made with bold point pens. Afterwards they would be given clove oil to trace the drawings. Participants will then be given an opportunity to create an interdisciplinary art work that can incorporate a sound, a poem, or a choreographed movement in response to their artworks.

Zahar Vaks born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan is a visual artist and curator. His practice navigates the various levels of fluency in painting, performance, violin playing, rhyming, and video. He lives in New York City. He has had exhibitions in New York, Philadelphia, Columbus, Las Vegas, Houston, Vienna, on the island of Svalbard in Norway, and, most recently, in Beijing , China. Zahar participated in the Robert Rauschenberg Residency; the Galveston Artist Residency; and in the Artists in Residence (AIR) program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2021. He holds a BFA from Tyler School of Art, and his MFA from The Ohio State University.

“First Impressions: What Do We Mean When We Say Torah?” with Rabbi Josh Weinberg

When we say Torah, do we mean the 5 books of Moses? The Bible? All of Written and Oral law? Any good Jewish teaching??? In this session we will take a whirlwind tour of the Jewish sacred bookshelf with a literary approach examining the first paragraph of most major works of our sacred literature from Genesis to Modern times!

Rabbi Josh Weinberg serves as the Vice President of the URJ for Israel and Reform Zionism and is the Executive Director of ARZA. He is a member of CBE, and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and four daughters. Josh loves engaging with texts and ideas, and Shavuot is his 2nd favorite holiday.

11:20 PM: Learning Block Two

“How to get to Israel (and elsewhere) for cheap using miles/points!” with Brian Cohen

Have you every wondered how to truly leverage your frequent flyer miles or credit card points for amazing travel? Come to a session where you will learn the basics of how you can use them to get to Israel and beyond for very little money (only taxes and fees!). You’ll learn what companies can get you there and back in coach or business class for not that much work on your part. Join us in learning about this often overlooked currency.

Brian Cohen is currently in his 14th year of teaching math and computer science. For years he has used his analytical mind to learn how to leverage credit card points and frequent flyer miles in order to travel around the world in business or first class for only a few hundred dollars. He currently has 24 credit cards and makes sure to leverage all bonus categories to maximize his points.

“Critical Race Theory and American Judaism” with Rabbi Barat Ellman

This session will be held over Zoom. Click here to join.
The terrifying bugaboo across America, Critical Race Theory has interesting implications for Jews – for those of us who are white and for those of us who are not. Working with texts from philosophers Charles Mills, Cornel West, and Emmanuel Levinas, along with selections from the Tanakh, this session will explore some of the distressing and the liberatory implications of critical race theory for American Jews today.

Rabbi Barat Ellman, Ph.D. is a teacher of theology, Judaism, and Hebrew Bible, and is 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 as well as in adult and interfaith education settings. She has also been on the faculty of the Bard Prison Initiative. Rabbi Ellman is a co-founder of, CAMMEER (Children of Abraham, Malcolm, Martin, Ella, Emma, Rosa and Rose) a multi-racial, cross faith group, is on the Rabbinic Councils of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ); and 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 Voice for Human Rights and the Freedom Agenda. As well, she is actively involved in campaigns to pass legislation around criminal justice, including Raise-the-Age, End Cash Bail, HALTSolitary, Less-is-More Parole Reform, Elder Parole, and Fair-and-Timely-Parole.

“Judaism for Universalists: The Life and Teachings of Rabbi Everett Gendler” with Rabbi Jason Gitlin

A pioneer of Jewish environmentalism and spiritual renewal, as well as rabbinic participation in the civil rights movement, Rabbi Everett Gendler died earlier this year. In this session, we’ll look at teachings reflecting Gendler’s passions, practices, and commitments, including Judaism and the natural world, Diaspora Jewry, and non-violent resistance, and welcome memories from anyone who may have known this American Rebbe.

Rabbi Jason Gitlin is CBE’s Small Groups and Community Engagement Specialist. His work in a wide variety of Jewish settings — including synagogues, newspapers, federations, seminaries, hospitals, JCCs, and public affairs agencies — has provided him with a broad perspective, and many approaches, for engaging people in Jewish life. He has led study circles in Pirkei Avot, Mishneh Torah, and Mussar; directed the ReFrame program in experiential Jewish education at the Jewish Theological Seminary (where he was ordained); and regularly teaches in Brooklyn parks and greenspaces. You can read more about him, and Small Groups, on CBE’s website.

“On being a frum cultural Jew” with Rabbi Matt Green

More and more American Jews call themselves “culturally Jewish,” yet the designation remains ill-defined. In this session, we’ll examine the ways in which cultural Judaism has taken shape in the United States from the 20th century to the present and consider its possibilities for the future. We will also explore the dichotomy between “cultural” and “religious,” and gently debate whether one can really be one or the other.

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.

“Superhero Theology: Am I Called to Repair the World and Can I Say ‘No, Thanks?’” with Rabbi Stephanie Kolin

In this session, we will explore what compels us to engage in justice and the work to make the world a more compassionate and fair place. Through this lens, we’ll look at some Biblical characters and also at their superhero counterparts in the Marvel and DC universes (it’s not a crossover, but both will be present – please forgive me). Through sacred text, both comic book and TaNaKH, we will gut check from where they, and also we, might hear such a call to action or responsibility, how that call sits with us, and whether we have to say yes. No prior knowledge of Hebrew, Torah, or superheroes is necessary – just come and play!

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.

“Yiddish Songs for Shvues” with Cantor Sarah Myerson

We’ll sing Yiddish songs for Shvues (Shavu’ot); both older folk songs, and some newer compositions of the 20th and 21st Centuries. Everyone is welcome! You don’t need to speak Yiddish or read music to participate. All song texts provided in transliteration and translation. Gut yontif, un a freylekhn shavues!

Sarah Myerson is a cantor actively working to bridge the worlds of Yiddish cultural and trad-egal Judaism. She is the Liturgical Director at Kane Street Synagogue in Brooklyn, New York, having 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.

“Wait, that’s not right!” with Jonathan Spear

The Poor People’s Campaign is combatting the inter functioning evils of poverty, racism, militarism, environmental degradation and the false moral narrative of religious nationalism. But how exactly is our own religious tradition used as the basis of false moral narratives? And how do we recognize and combat them?

Jonathan Spear is an educator, CBE member, has been volunteering with the NYS Canpaign’s Faith Community Organizing Team, and is mobilizing brownstone Brooklyn congregations for the June 18th Mass Mobilization of Poor and Low Wage Workers to Washington DC and the Polls.

12:25 AM: Learning Block Three

“May God Bless and Keep the Czar Far Away From Us” with Alan Belsky

The “blessing for the czar” is often a favorite punchline for fans of Fiddler on the Roof, but some traditional Jewish “prayers for the government” express meanings that are not far off. In this class we’ll study prayers said in Jewish communities in different lands & eras for the benefit of their monarchs, elected leaders, neighbors, and even themselves. We’ll look at a few rabbinic texts that comment on the role & reality of government, and explore how the changing circumstances of Jews in the Diaspora & in Israel over the last millennium have yielded a variety of liturgical responses.

Alan Scott Belsky is your neighbor and has been since 2010. His Jewish background includes Modern Orthodox day school, Halachic-Egalitarian yeshivah year, National Havurah Committee summer institutes, and Nehirim LGBTQ Jewish retreats. Alan worked most of the last ten years in transportation planning & operations, and as of this Spring is excited about recently purchasing his first kite as well as his first Dungeons & Dragons game handbook. He grew up in southern Brooklyn, which explains why he uses “Ashkenaz” as an adjective.

“Ger (Convert) Pride; Launching a Movement!” with Rebbetzin Melody Soriano-Fingerer & Husband Rabbi Shlomo

Do you know someone who has been told that their conversion is not as good as a different one? Are you familiar with the all too common ‘impostor syndrome’ that geirim/converts are subject to? Let us show you how every traditional source suggests that converts are a core part of Hashem/God’s plan for our nation. Be the friend who points out to a convert that they are ‘more’ Jewish than anyone else. Take the source sheet and run with it!

Melody is perhaps a pioneering convert, being the rabbi’s rabbi (he claims to learn from her!), easily fitting in to Shlomo’s Haredi family and our local communities! Rabbi Shlomo is perhaps the first Haredi (full time Talmud study after the 6th grade) to graduate from a school like Columbia University.

“From Repair to Repair: Bearing Witness and Healing Between Shavuot and Tisha b’Av” with Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips

Our all-night study gathering is called a Tikkun, usually translated as Repair. But what does repair mean after years of pandemic grief and upheaval, entangled with violence near and far? This session will explore ancient Jewish teachings — shattered vessels of creation, broken tablets of Torah, and a nightly ritual of Midnight Repair — together with contemporary perspectives from diverse spiritual traditions on trauma, bearing witness, and healing. As we learn and sing together, we will begin to chart a path of practice through the next nine weeks: from this night of revelation to our traditional season of mourning and consolation. Related plans for bearing witness on the morning of Tisha b’Av will also be shared.

Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips, MSW, MPH, coordinated a nationwide remote vigil for the pandemic dead and beyond from April 2020 through August 2021. She participated in the 2005 interfaith Bearing Witness retreat at Auschwitz-Birkenau and served in leadership roles for the post-9/11 NYC disaster relief. She continues to develop “How to Mourn AND Organize” initiatives through Ways of Peace, a social microenterprise that renews justice and kindness across lines of diversity and throughout the life cycle.

“Masekhet Atzmaut – The Tractate of Independence: Reading Israel’s Declaration of Independence through a Talmudic lens” with Rabbi Josh Weinberg

As Israel approaches its 75th year of independence we will look at its foundational document and study it like the Talmud – with commentary, evaluating both the collective narrative and the aspirational values outlined in this document as Israel nears this milestone anniversary.

Rabbi Josh Weinberg serves as the Vice President of the URJ for Israel and Reform Zionism and is the Executive Director of ARZA. He is a member of CBE, and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and four daughters. Josh loves engaging with texts and ideas, and Shavuot is his 2nd favorite holiday.

1:30 AM: Learning Block Four

“The Song of Redemption and the Song of Confession” with Cantor Josh Breitzer

In the last days of Passover, we recount the Exodus from Egypt and the ancient tune sung by the Israelites on the shores of the sea. Throughout Yom Kippur, we count our shortcomings by tapping our hearts in time to a version of that same tune. How can this be? Come and learn more about the musical connection between two starkly contrasting sacred occasions.

Cantor Josh Breitzer (he/him) joined Congregation Beth Elohim soon after his 2011 ordination from HUC-JIR. Named by The Forward in its “Soundtrack of Our Spirit” series as a leading voice of Jewish music, Cantor Breitzer has sung and taught in communities around the world. He appears throughout the PBS documentary “The Four Sons And All Their Sons: A Passover Tale” and helped create the New York Festival of Song’s acclaimed cabaret “A Goyishe Christmas to You” in which he performs annually. Josh proudly hails from mid-Michigan and spent formative summers at Interlochen Arts Camp, eventually earning degrees from the University of Michigan and the New England Conservatory. Alongside his work at CBE, he is an innovative instructor at HUC-JIR and serves as a vice president of the American Conference of Cantors. Cantor Breitzer lives in Park Slope with his wife Donna and their children Jonah and Gideon.

“כֵּן בְּנוֹת צְלָפְחָד דֹּבְרֹת | The Daughters of Tzelophchad: From Revolution to Revelation” with Rabbi Amalia Mark

How is the Torah and halacha (Jewish law) impacted when women and other minorities speak their truth in pursuit of justice? Using the story of Machlah, Noah, Choglah, Milkah, and Tirtzah, the daughters of Tzelophechad, we will plumb the text of BeMidbar 27 to explore collective power, the ongoing expansion of our tradition, and how the daughters of Tzelophechad are ancient models for contemporary struggles.

Rabbi Amalia Mark (she/her) is a new transplant to Crown Heights and is still getting used to taking the subway everywhere. She loves embodied Jewish ritual and deep text study. When not talking Torah, she can be found reading, embroidering, or learning to identify local plants. She works for Mayyim Hayyim Living Waters Community Mikveh in Boston, MA.

“Meeting our Messiahs” with Chelsea Simon

Abraham Abulafia, Rabbi Akiva, Menachem Mendl Schneerson, Sabbatai Tzvi, Jesus ben Joseph, Theodor Herzl…Jewish life for millennia has been full of messianic hope and longing, and has given us messiahs ranging from beloved to the cautionary tales. This Shavuos, come meet some of these larger-than-life figures! After a brief introduction to messianic history and ideas, we will break into chevrusa to meet some individual messiahs and think about how they fit into ever-changing definitions and hopes for messianic redemption. Finally, we’ll return to a large group to teach each other about these messiahs, find commonalities and divergences among them, and discuss Judaism’s proposed redeemers. Bring all your notions, opinions, and questions to the table this Shavuos and be ready to encounter messiahs (and perhaps introduce us to more)!

Coming to you from just east of the NY Harbour in Bay Ridge, Chelsea Simon is in the throes of dissertating about messiahs during the Second Temple Period. Beyond the Hellenistic world rife with messianic hope and claimants, Chelsea enjoys thinking about how messianic ideas have changed over time and merged with the philosophies and needs of different periods in Jewish history. Besides engaging with messianic lore, Khave lernt Yiddish, sphilt (un hert) klezmer, kokht Shabbos vetsheres galore, follows genealogical trails, and explores NYC with abandon. Ask Chelsea how her math and finance background brought her to eventually pursue her Ph.D. at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

“Evolution of angels and demons in Jewish thought” with Shira Telushkin

The Bible is full of angels, the Talmud is peopled with demons, our later texts are full of dybbuks and holy spirits who inhabit the bodies of scholars. What prompted this ever-increasing diversification of the spiritual world? How do we understand the role of these spiritual beings alongside a singularly powerful God? How do these shifts in trends mirror shifts in human conceptions of power and authority?

Shira Telushkin is a writer living in Brooklyn, where she focuses on stories of faith, beauty, and culture. She got her BA in religious studies from Yale University and her M.Div from the Harvard Divinity School. She is currently writing a book on monastic intrigue in modern America. She welcomes a nodding acquaintance with most varieties of half-know spiritual presences, both friendly and scared.

2:45 AM: Learning Block Five

“Midrash as experiential art” with Dov Alpert

Come be part of a collaborative Torah study experiment inspired by Midrashic commentary. The Torah is a text saturated with commentary. Layers of fables, exegesis, analysis, interpretation, or exposition became the iconic subtext upon subtext that create the volumes of redactions and digressions still read today. Midrash, the earliest commentary, is as mythical in origin as the Torah itself. What would it be like to study a midrash without the generations of annotation? What ideas would you have discovered in an ancient house of Torah study. This session will experiment with concocting our own creative understanding of a cryptic text by studying an original midrash and commentary 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 and 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, which 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, an experiential art project, will be the final piece of a multimedia series revolving around the biblical character Rivka that Dov has been working on for the past 5 years.

“Separation and Solidarity: Divine Presence and Identity Politics in Leviticus and Song of Songs” with Abhay Brennan-Torell

This session begins with the idea that texts that led to the rise of identity politics in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s might help open up new ways of understanding Leviticus and the Song of Songs. The goal of this session will be to start to identify shared themes among these texts and discuss how they might help us answer these questions: 1) under what circumstances is the divine present with humanity and under what circumstances is the divine distant?, and 2) with what criteria should a group decide with whom to be in solidarity with and with whom to separate from?

Abhay is a member of Altshul and Prospect Heights Shul and a regular at Atara Minyan and Brooklyn Shabbat Kodesh. They have a Masters in theology from Union Theological Seminary where they specialized in Hebrew Bible and liberation theology. They are also one of the organizers of the Religion and Socialism Working Group of the Democratic Socialists of America.

“Jewish Spellcraft” with Zev Hurwich

Judaism is full of magic. Whether we’re swinging chickens over our heads, placing amulets on our doorposts, or fending off the evil eye, our cultural/religious practices are full of rituals which were designed to take control of our spiritual lives. But did you know we used to have whole books of spells? Spells of binding, spells of healing, curses, even a spell to disperse lingering crowds. This class will look at over 1,200 years of Jewish texts both to explore what makes our own mystical tradition unique.

I have been doing a little bit of everything since college. I attended the University of Chicago where I majored in Theatre and Italian, writing my senior thesis on Renaissance Magic and its use in theatre. Since then professionally I have been a clown, a journalist for publications like Hey Alma, a theatre director, a television extra, a non-profit fundraiser, and most recently started my own fiction podcasting network.

“Vigil-Keepers for the Morning: An Hour of Shared Witness” with Rabbi Regina Sandler-Philips

Shavuot traditionally celebrates the counting of 49 days from liberation to revelation. But what if every day — and every life — counts? For more than 500 days of relentless pandemic, a network of vigil-keepers across faith traditions, generations and time zones fulfilled the supreme imperative of honoring the unclaimed and unnamed dead throughout the U.S. and around the globe. Join us as we renew this experience, reclaiming ancient Jewish traditions of Tikkun Hatzot / Midnight Repair and Meit Mitzvah / Honoring the Unclaimed with an hour of study, singing, and silence.

Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips, MSW, MPH, coordinated a nationwide remote vigil for the pandemic dead and beyond from April 2020 through August 2021. She participated in the 2005 interfaith Bearing Witness retreat at Auschwitz-Birkenau and served in leadership roles for the post-9/11 NYC disaster relief. She continues to develop “How to Mourn AND Organize” initiatives through Ways of Peace, a social microenterprise that renews justice and kindness across lines of diversity and throughout the life cycle.

3:50 AM: Learning Block Six

“Singing in Revelation: A pre sunrise service nign (wordless melody) sing” with Russ Agdern

It’s almost time to receive the Torah together. Let’s sing some things to get ourselves there.

Russ Agdern is a yid from New York who likes singing, ideally with you. He’s led this and a few other things before, is one of the founders of Shir HaMaalot, and especially loves singing with his wife Marisa and kiddo E.

“Songs of Revelation: Piyyutim for Shavuot” with Rabbi Margo Hughes-Robinson

Join Rabbi Margo Hughes-Robinson for a session of learning and singing traditional piyyutim (liturgical poetry) from around the Jewish world. Together we’ll explore themes of covenant, revelation, and wakefulness as we raise our voices in song together.

Rabbi Margo Hughes-Robinson was ordained in 2021 by the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she also obtained an MA in Midrash. She currently serves as the NY Rabbinic Organizer at T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

“Listening for Dawn” with Danny Smith

On Shavuot we stay awake all night to ritually prepare ourselves, to metaphorically sensitive our minds and bodies to receive the Torah at dawn. But this all-night vigil also gives us access to a common but rarely heard ritual: the dawn chorus, the moment before the sunrise when birds first begin to sing and sing their loudest and clearest songs of the day. Many of us hear it in the mornings, birds chirping in trees, flocks gathering, as we first begin to stir in the mornings. But in this workshop we will take the opportunity to really listen and to learn to record this beautiful but ephemeral moment. Using techniques from field recording and sound art, this workshop will teach participants to use iPhones and simple recording devices to better listen to the world around us.

Danny Smith is an artist and art historian whose work examines space, history, and landscape. His projects range from large-scale sculptural installations to essays and research-driven exhibitions. Danny received a PhD in Art History from Stanford University and has taught in the Art and Art History departments at Carleton College, Williams College, Stanford University, and San Francisco State University. He received the 2021-2022 Marian and Andrew Heiskell/Anthony M. Clark Rome Prize. Danny currently directs arts and culture programming at The Neighborhood: An Urban Center for Jewish Life.

5:00 AM: Hashkama Minyan in the CBE Sanctuary

Sunday, June 5 at 6:30 PM: Yizkor Memorial Service

This service will be in person in the CBE Chapel and available via livestream on our website, Facebook, YouTube, and Zoom.