Oxford Summer Institute in Modern and Contemporary Judaism, Symposium on Rabbi Dr. Irving Greenberg, Oxford, England
For nine days this summer, a group of sixteen scholars convened to discuss the seminal work of Rabbi Dr. Irving “Yitz” Greenberg at the inaugural Oxford Summer Institute in Modern and Contemporary Judaism. The symposium, Modern Orthodoxy and the Road Not Taken: A Critical Exploration of Questions Arising from the Thought of Rabbi Dr. Irving “Yitz” Greenberg, was supported in part by Targum Shlishi. Greenberg is an influential theologian who has had a wide-ranging career as a rabbi, historian, activist, author, and leader of several major Jewish organizations. He is a revolutionary thinker on an array of issues, including the Jewish people’s encounter with the challenge of modernity; confronting the Holocaust as an historical transforming event; the creation of Israel as the Jewish assumption of power and the beginning of a third era in Jewish history; and the importance of Jewish-Christian dialogue. In his opening remarks at this summer’s symposium, Aryeh Rubin, director of Targum Shlishi, called Greenberg “one of the greatest Jewish thinkers of the past half-century.” Greenberg is widely recognized for his groundbreaking approach to being Jewish in today’s post-Holocaust, post-Israel, pluralistic, and rapidly evolving world. The symposium, held near Oxford, England, was organized by Professor Adam Ferziger of Bar-Ilan University and Dr. Miri Freud-Kandel of University of Oxford, and brought together scholars from the United States, Israel, and the U.K. The daily sessions ranged in subject matter from Modern Orthodoxy to Holocaust theology to feminism. In addition to the symposium, Targum Shlishi has organized and maintains an online archive on the work of Rabbi Greenberg.
Hillel International, Jewish Data Initiative, Washington, D.C.
Targum Shlishi’s grant helped provide initial start-up capital for the Jewish Data Initiative, a Hillel program that seeks to accumulate and analyze “big data,” or actionable intelligence, about the habits of young Jews to be used by Hillel’s engagement staff. The purpose of the Jewish Data Initiative is to build ever-more sophisticated tools to track, quantify, manage, and enhance relationship-based engagement. More than eighty-five percent of young Jews in the United States attend college. These young people are concentrated on some seventy-five campuses. This is the gateway through which the next generation of the Jewish community will pass. While Hillel and other Jewish organizations know where the young Jews are, beyond this very little is known about their habits and relationships to the Jewish professionals and institutions that seek to engage them. In order to reach beyond the small number of students currently being engaged by Hillel, it is necessary to have a more sophisticated understanding of those not being reached, mechanisms to reach them, and a system to quantify the results. Founded in 1923, Hillel is the largest broad based, pluralistic Jewish organization serving Jewish college students in the world.
Arthur Green, Research on the History of Hasidism: Key Ideas of the Inner Circle of the Maggid, Newton Centre, MA
The scholar Arthur Green is a historian of Jewish religion and a leading independent figure in the Jewish Renewal movement who has studied and published works on mystical traditions within Judaism since the late 1960s and has devoted the past several decades of his professional life to studying the origins of Hasidism. Targum Shlishi is helping support research efforts for several related projects involving the history of the inner circle of early Hasidism, the school of Dov Baer of Mezritch, the group that essentially founded the Hasidic movement. As Dr. Green explains, the founders of Hasidism, while of a united school of thought, dealt with difficult issues. “Some of these questions parallel those we face today. Hasidism’s founders struggled with questions such as: How do you popularize a profound esoteric truth? Can you do so without watering it down to meaningless pap? Do you cater to your hearer/readers’ needs, or do you seek to bring them closer to the questions that you consider ‘the heart of the matter?’” Dr. Green is the former dean and president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the founding dean and current rector of the Rabbinical School and Irving Brudnick Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Religion at Hebrew College.
Uri L’Tzedek, Tav HaYosher: Just Workplaces for Kosher Restaurants, New York
Who works to ensure that kosher restaurants are just workplaces, with the workers receiving fair pay and overtime pay, adequate breaks during their shifts, and safe and sanitary work environments? Targum Shlishi is supporting Tav HaYosher, a grassroots effort by New York’s Uri L’Tzedek, an Orthodox social justice organization dedicated to combating suffering and oppression. Tav HaYosher works to end discrimination, wage theft, and abuse in the restaurant industry. The project is affiliated with more than eighty restaurants. Targum Shlishi is supporting Uri L’Tzedek’s effort to expand the program to additional establishments during 2014. In speaking of the project, Steven Kraus, executive director of Uri L’Tzedek, comments on the significance of just workplaces in kosher kitchens: “Rav Yosef Breuer, one of the leading figures of twentieth century Orthodoxy, famously stated, ‘Kosher is intimately related to Yosher. God’s Torah not only demands the observance of Kashruth and the sanctification of our physical enjoyment; it also insists on the sanctification of our social relationships. This requires the strict application of the tenets of justice and righteousness, which avoid even the slightest trace of dishonesty in our business dealings and personal life.”
Hebrew at the Center, Hebrew Online Curriculum, Framingham, MA
This innovative pilot program complements classroom-based Hebrew teaching with state-of-the-art digital units that combine written materials, sound, and video. These computer-based teaching units for the high school level can be used in and beyond the classroom, with the teacher as facilitator. The pilot program is organized by Hebrew at the Center, working with Jerusalem Ed Tech Solutions and The Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto. The program, titled “Using Asynchronous Technology to Enhance the Hebrew Language Classroom,” has several goals. The key objectives include testing the effectiveness of the digital units. The pilot program is also working closely with teachers to train them to implement the online units and to go beyond that and develop their own digital units. Hebrew language instruction can benefit enormously from online learning resources, as it is a subject that continually challenges schools to engage students, according to the program’s developers. Online learning provides innovative ways of using multimedia approaches to enrich the classroom experience and introduce students to real-life situations involving Hebrew.
Talmud and Midrash Project, The Disputes Between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel by Rabbi Dr. Nachman Cohen
Targum Shlishi continues its support for The Disputes Between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel, the seventh and eighth volumes of The Encyclopedia of Talmudic Disputes and Perspectives, which is being prepared for publication by Rabbi Dr. Nachman Cohen as part of his Talmud and Midrash Project. The more than three hundred disputes between the Houses represent virtually the oldest Talmudic disputes. An understanding of how and why they developed will help scholars and laymen better understand the nature and ramifications of disputes throughout the Talmud. Cohen is the founder and director of Torah Lishmah Institute, and he is also a research professor at RIETS and adjunct professor at the Azrieli Graduate School of Yeshiva University. He is the founding rabbi of Young Israel Ohab Zedek of North Riverdale/Yonkers, and is chairman of the Board of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists. Among many other accomplishments, he has been a dean and Rosh Yeshiva for over forty years. He is the author of the highly acclaimed Master a Mesikhta Series, Mirrors of Eternity, Esther’s Plea, The Historical Haggadah, A Time for all Things, and Bar/Bat Mitzvah and Beyond.Mitzvand
Sefaria, “Rashi on Torah” bilingual version, Israel
“Rashi on Torah” is an innovative digital initiative of Sefaria, a new organization founded in 2013 that is building a free living library of Jewish texts online. Targum Shlishi is sponsoring the posting of the complete and bilingual version of Rashi’s Torah commentary. Digitizing Rashi’s Torah commentary has been one of Sefaria’s major priorities. This complex and intensive process is one step in the larger picture of making traditional Jewish texts as accessible as possible with as few restrictions as possible. “We’re committed to making these texts easier to find, easier to understand, and free to access,” says Daniel Septimus, Sefaria’s executive director. “Ultimately, by translating Rashi into the language spoken by a large portion of world Jewry, we are facilitating the entrance of innumerable Jews into the great conversation of Jewish learning.” A large percentage of Sefaria users are educators and students in Jewish day schools. Sefaria was created in response to a unique problem and opportunity: the Jewish world was failing to take advantage of major technological developments that could yield unprecedented new opportunities for learning. Sefaria’s mission is to revolutionize Jewish education and enhance Jewish literacy and engagement.
Sugia, Online Forum: Reviving Talmudic Discourse and Introducing it to the U.S.
The Talmud “has become the one thing it was never meant to be: an ancient, closed book that seems to deal primarily with irrelevant issues.” That is according to Sugia, an online forum that is opening up the Talmud, reviving it for today’s world, and demonstrating why it is vital and relevant through—what else?—Talmudic discourse, the implementation of the Talmudic concept of makhloket (debate) to generate productive conversation among Jews. Established in 2013 and based in Jerusalem, Sugia is a fast-growing online forum that brings Jews across the globe together to explore the Jewish response to contemporary ethical and existential issues. Targum Shlishi is helping to support a pilot project to bring Sugia to the United States and create a bilingual version of Sugia’s website.
Tulane Hillel, Innovative Evaluative Initiative, New Orleans, LA
Targum Shlishi continues its support of Tulane Hillel’s initiative to establish new evaluative methods in order to gather data on student participation and degree of engagement. The quickly growing Tulane Hillel is applying quantitative data gathering methods used by entrepreneurs and start-ups and working with a consultant well-versed in helping companies grow. “We are deeply impressed that Tulane Hillel is taking on this project to evaluate student participation. What is perhaps most heartening is that Tulane Hillel is already doing extremely well, with one of the highest percentages of engagement of Jewish students across all Hillels, on a campus that has a large population of Jewish students, a full one-third of the student body,” says Aryeh Rubin, director of Targum Shlishi. Tulane Hillel’s ultimate goal is to engage the university’s entire Jewish student body. In working towards one hundred percent participation, the organization seeks to provide a range of diverse and dynamic opportunities for the students.
Limmud Miami, Day of Jewish Learning, Miami, FL
The first-ever Limmud Miami brought scores of local, national, and international Jewish educators, performers, teachers, and artists to Miami for a dynamic learning experience that included workshops, study sessions, discussions, panels, performances, exhibits, films, and more. Limmud, Hebrew for “learning,” is a worldwide movement that organizes Jewish learning festivals across the globe. The Miami conference included more than sixty events, from a presentation by anthropology professor Ruth Behar titled “Jewish and Cuban, Ashkenazi and Sephardic: How to Cherish all our Identities” to a performance by singer/songwriter Ari Lesser, who raps from the perspective of different biblical personalities.
Shul of Bal Harbour, Jonathan Sacks Lecture, Bal Harbour, FL
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, formerly Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth for twenty-two years, lectured at the Shul of Bal Harbour, a presentation that was supported in part by Targum Shlishi. He spoke on the topic “Shattering the Idols: The Struggle for Holiness in a Secular Age.” In an article of the same title, Rabbi Sacks argued that the Jewish people “must both strengthen the institutions of Jewish life and articulate a compelling alternative to the prevailing libertarianism of secular culture.” A frequent speaker and the author of over thirty books, Rabbi Sacks has won numerous awards and held professorships at several universities. His take on antisemitism: “Antisemitism is never ultimately about Jews. It is about a profound human failure to accept the fact that we are diverse and must create space for diversity if we are to preserve our humanity.” And his take on questioning: “To ask is to believe that somewhere there is an answer. The fact that throughout history people have devoted their lives to extending the frontiers of knowledge is a compelling testimony to the restlessness of the human spirit and its constant desire to go further, higher, deeper. Far from faith excluding questions, questions testify to faith – that history is not random, that the universe is not impervious to our understand, that what happens to us is not blind chance. We ask, not because we doubt, but because we believe.”
Miami Jewish Film Festival, Bureau 06, Documentary Film, Miami, FL
A team of eleven police investigators spent ten months interrogating Adolf Eichmann in preparation for his 1961 trial. During those months the investigators, known as Bureau 06, lived together in a detention facility along with Eichmann, closed off from the world and their families, as they prepared for the case brought by the Jewish people against Eichmann. The Israeli documentary film Bureau 06 tells their story. The film’s North American premiere took place at the Miami Jewish Film Festival (January 23–February 3, 2014), with the screening supported by Targum Shlishi. This is the tenth year that Targum Shlishi has helped fund the Miami Jewish Film Festival by supporting the screening of a film related to the Holocaust and specifying that it be shown on Saturday night, one of the festival’s busiest times. Bureau 06 was viewed by a full theater of people, who learned of the investigators’ experiences, including their personal stories and the emotional turmoil they experienced as they prepared for the trial that presented the Shoah to the world in a way that had not been told before.
Jacobson Sinai Academy, General Support, Miami, FL
Jacobson Sinai Academy is only accredited liberal Jewish day school in the northeast Miami-Dade/southeast Broward area. The school’s goal is to educate the whole child and to prepare students to participate successfully in an ever-changing global society. The culturally diverse student body originates from seventeen different countries, and the school offers three languages of instruction: English, Hebrew, and Spanish.
Areyvut, Family Tikkun Olam Tour, Teaneck, NJ
Targum Shlishi’s grant helped support the early stages of a Family Tikkun Olam Tour that will take participants to various locations to engage in acts of kindness. Areyvut is currently developing the tour, which will be part of its National Mitzvah Day. Participants will learn about community needs, put issues within a context, and volunteer together. The impetus for the program is to help support parents who want to teach their children Jewish values and to volunteer as a family but may have challenges identifying appropriate opportunities. Areyvut’s mission is to infuse the lives of Jewish youth and teens with the core Jewish values of chesed (kindness), tzedakah (charity), and tikkun olam (social action), so that they become thoughtful, giving members of the Jewish community of tomorrow.