Summer Program
Course Descriptions 2020

All Levels

Building Resilience in the Shadow of Corona
Naomi L. Baum, Ph.D.
In this mini-workshop we will identify the sources of resilience in our own lives, understand how this relates to the theory and research on resilience and learn some new skills that can improve our coping during this challenging time. Based on theories rooted in mind-body medicine, recent studies on resilient populations point to very concrete activities that can be readily taught to increase personal and community resilience.

Shaming in a #MeToo World
Karen Miller Jackson

 The concept of “shaming” has taken on new connotations on social media, especially in the context of the #MeToo movement. Through sources from Torah, midrash and halakha we will explore the following questions: What do Jewish sources say about shaming? When is it permissible to shame someone publicly? What positive and negative effects may shaming have on individuals and the world?


When Health Challenges Us
Michal Roness

 How can health challenges build Emunah? How does Emunah transfer challenges to experiences of growth? We will answer these questions by analysing the differences between faith-based trust in Hashem and love-based trust in Hashem. We will also look at the aspects of Birkat Hagomel and the Korban Toda which guide us through the tunnels of challenge in our lives.


A Tale of Two Brothers:

God’s Role in the Story of Cain and Abel
Rav Chaim Tabasky

A study of the story of Cain and Able, with an emphasis on Rashi’s method of interpretation, will provide a platform for discussing issues of rivalry, violence, and their causes, G-d’s role in the first recorded murder.

Tanach: Yehuda and Tamar: The Road to Teshuva

Stacey Goldman

 Yehuda, as portrayed in the Torah, seems an unlikely leader, let alone the progenitor of Mashiach. How does his story convey the ultimate message of repentance and redemption that continues to serve as a model of teshuva for us all today? In this course we will explore the story of Yehuda and Tamar through classic and chassidishe commentaries to see how it impacts the Jewish view of leadership and how we relate to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, both as individuals and as a people. 

Women in Halacha
Navit Tzadik
In a world that equality is such a central value, Women’s place in halachic Judaism raises a lot of questions. What mitzvot are women exempt from and why? Are women encouraged to learn Torah as men are? What about reading from a Torah scroll? Why do women seem so passive in halachik marriage? Why is the ability to divorce only in men’s power? Starting from the psukim and halachic discussion in the Talmud, we will go through the different sources and rulings to help shape a better understanding of the value of equality in halachic Judaism. This two hour slot includes chevrutah preparation to help get familiar with the sources before discussed in class.

Halacha: Everything You Need to Know About Jewish Observance

Rav Da’vid Sperling

 Welcome to the fascinating world on Halacha – Jewish Law. Halacha (literally, connected to the word for “to walk”) directs every aspect of our lives. Understanding not only what is required of us, but “why?” is a fundamental step in our religious observance and growth. In this class we will cover some basic laws of Blessings, Prayer, Shabbat and the Kosher laws, as time allows. With time for questions and discussion, we will try to deepen our understanding of how to “walk” as a Jew, with an emphasis on the practical applications of each law, as it applies to each student in her own life.




From Faith to Selflessness: A Portrait of a Survivor
Neima Novetsky

What are the traits which enable a person to overcome adversity and not only survive hardships but grow as a result?  What “exit strategies”can help us get out of a rut and then thrive? This class will explore how various figures from Tanakh through Aggadah face life’s challenges and eventually triumph over them.  How do our barren mothers, from Sarah to Channah, deal with their loss? How does the betrayed Yosef manage to forgive and move forward? Where do the poverty stricken R. Akiva, Ruth, and Naomi find the strength to survive? What about suffering which is self-inflicted? When we mess up and fail, how do we get back on track? 


Tanach: Narratives of Healing

Rivka Kahan

 The Tanakh presents many narratives of personal and national loss and healing, each of which is unique. Together, they reflect the infinite variety of ways in which people experience and make meaning of loss.  In this course, we will explore narratives of personal and national loss in Tanakh through the lenses of literary analysis, midrashim, and parshanut, to understand what they teach us about different experiences of loss and paths toward meaning and resilience.  

Halacha: Women Reciting the Mourner’s kaddish:
Navit Tzadik
What is the purpose of reciting Kaddish after the loss of a close relative and do women recite the kaddish just as men do? This class will go deep into the sources regarding this special prayer and the different halachic opinions with regarding to women’s reciting kaddish. During the guided chevrutah preparation and class discussion, we will read the different sources and work on understanding what principals guide the poskim when making a halachic ruling.


Halacha: Elevating Prayer Through Sources

Rav Da’vid Sperling

 “Elevating Prayer” is both a labour of the soul, and the mind. Through studying the sources “inside” we will come to a greater understanding our prayers, and so, hopefully be better uplifted in our “service of the heart” (as prayer is called). We will be studying original sources from the Talmud, Rishonim, Shulchan Aruch and commentators. During our classes this summer we will focus on Shema and Amidah, dealing with questions of kavanah (intent and concentration) and nusach. Our learning we be following the progression of the halacha from the sources through to our daily prayers. Each class we be divided into chevrutah learning (with tutorial assistance) and an in-depth interactive class.


Talmud– Lives in the Balance: When Private Citizens Take Law into their own Hands

Rav Hanan Schlesinger

When does a crime in process create a situation in which a private citizen is to take the law into his own hands and kill the criminal? This is the central issue that we will focus on as we study a series of passages in the middle of the eighth chapter of Tractate Sanhedrin of the Babylonian Talmud that explore what is traditionally referred as the matter of the rodef – the pursuer.

The Talmud examines the scriptural and the philosophic/moral basic for the pursuer principle, and weighs its application in cases of attempted murder, rape, idolatry, etc. It inquires whether there is a mitzva to kill in such cases or if the Torah merely grants us permission to do so, and it probes the risks one must take – or is allowed to take – in killing the criminal. The questions that arise are endless, the dilemmas myriad.

The two-hour Zoom sessions will be divided between hevruta study of the texts on the one hand, and on the other hand, frontal presentation and class discussion. The frontal presentations will deal both with the skills of critical textual analysis and with the philosophical and theological issues suggested by the texts. Effort will be made to find additional Zoom time for personal connection between the students and the instructor. 




 Tanach: על נהרות בבל: כיצד עם ישראל נולד מחדש מתוך משבר הגלות?

Rav David Sabato


בשנת 586 לפנה”ס כבשו הבבלים את ירושלים, בירת ממלכת יהודה, החריבו את המקדש, והגלו את יושבי יהודה לבבל. אירוע נורא זה יצר קו שבר בתולדות עם ישראל, והשפיע באופן דרמטי על עתידו. השאלה המרכזית שנשאל בשיעור היא:

כיצד הפך המשבר הגדול לבסיס ללידתו מחדש של העם בימי בית שני? לשם כך נחווה את תחושות הגולים הבאים לנהרות בבל, נלמד כיצד הכינו הנביאים את הגולים להתמודדות הרוחנית עם הגלות, ונעקוב אחרי הצעדים הראשונים של שיבת ציון.


Tanach: א-ל נא רפא נא לה: עיון בסיפורי מצורעים בתנ”ך

Ilana Hadad


במהלך הקורס ננסה לראות מה היה תפקידה של הצרעת  בסיפורים בהן היא מופיעה בתנ”ך וכיצד

השפיעה הצרעת על אמונתם של המצורעים ושל עם ישראל.


Halacha : Hilchot Brachot

Rav Kobi Gigi


בלימוד נעסוק בע”ה בהלכות ברכות דרך עיון בגמרא ובפוסקים. נעמוד על תפקידן של הברכות בעולם ההלכתי ומתוך כך בעולמו הכללי של עובד ה’.


Talmud: Law, Practice, Meaning and Belief
Rav Chaim Tabasky

In our study of some passages in the fourth chapter of Berachot we will consider the connection between rules of prayer and the prayer experience and its meaning. We will emphasize understanding the Talmudic method and sugya while striving to understand the Rabbinic position regarding some laws of tefilla.