The last few weeks have offered a blessed respite from coursework. I can't remember the last time that happened: usually one semester ends as the next is beginning (and if there are final papers to be written or translation projects to be undertaken, we're scrambling to complete them even as we try not to fall behind on the next semester's new offerings) so this little break has been a real mechaieh (life-giver) for me! But it's almost time to get back to the work of fulltime learning again.
Next week at the ALEPH Kallah I'll be taking two courses: a course on Eco-Judaism taught by Reb Arthur Waskow, and a deep immersion in the writings of the Baal Shem Tov (founder of Hasidism) taught by Reb Burt Jacobson. During smicha week, the annual week-long intensive for ALEPH ordination students which follows right on the heels of Kallah, I'll be taking two more courses: a spiritual direction class focusing on intercessory prayer taught by Reb Shohama Wiener and Reb Nadya Gross, and a course on liturgy/poems/stories for illness, healing and death taught by Rabbinic Pastor Shulamit Fagan.
At least two of the four (and possibly all of them) will continue with teleconference sessions once we're home again. (More information on all four of these classes can be found beneath the extended entry link.)
- Eco-Judaism: The Theology and Practice of Jewish Responses to Ecological Crises, Past & Present
The course covers: 1) theology of the adam/adamah relationship and why crises appear in that relationship; 2) history of past Jewish responses to these crises in the context of the Sumerian and Roman Empires; 3) Jewish responses today, especially taking into account eco-kashrut, celebrating earth-moon-sun aspects of the festivals, liturgy, Torah- study, and life-cycle markers; Eco-Zionism; and Jewish advocacy for policy change. Taught by Reb Arthur Waskow.
- Living in the Presence: The Core Teachings of the Ba'al Shem Tov
The Ba’al Shem Tov, founder of Hasidism, taught that through ecstasy, joy, love, awe and conscious living one could experience the Living Spirit and make every day holy. In this class a master teacher of the Besht will guide you through the methods of textual inquiry that will enable you to uncover the historic and the contemporary meaning of key Hasidic texts in Hebrew. You will discover new ways to integrate the Besht’s teachings into your life and develop your skills at teaching Hasidic sources to adults. The course will blend niggun, meditation, lecture, hevruta study, lively discussion, and creative writing. Taught by Reb Burt Jacobson.
Guidance from Spirit: God, Rebbes, Ancestors and Guides; Personal and Intercessory Prayer
This Intensive, for those enrolled in the ALEPH Hashpa'ah Program, will focus on Jewish methods of connecting with the spiritual realms through personal prayer and meditation, in order to receive guidance and healing for ourselves and others. Insights from the fields of contemporary psychology, neuro-biology, and ecumenical spirituality will be included. Taught by Reb Shohama Wiener and Reb Nadya Gross.
Liturgy, Poems and Stories for Illness, Healing and Death
Together we will explore a large body of liturgy, poems and stories available to us for use with our patients, their families, and ourselves around healing, illness and death. We will share, discuss, meditate and journal.
What does our tradition tell us about the origins of illness? How does it define healing? Where can we direct people for textual support? What part do Hasidic and modern stories play in healing and support?
This class will be very interactive. Each student is expected to come prepared to share experiences where text has helped them to understand Jewish custom and ritual in the healing process. Taught by Rabbinic Pastor Shulamit Fagan.
I don't expect I'll have much time for blogging during either of these coming weeks, though hopefully I'll be able to share some gems from these classes with y'all, either during Kallah and smicha week or when I am home again and beginning to integrate the learning from these intensives into my ordinary life.