JTS and Cleveland Area Conservative Movement Sponsor Pre-High Holiday Shabbaton

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950
Email: nijacobson@jtsa.edu

August 22, 2008, Cleveland, OH

An extraordinary opportunity to prepare for the Jewish New Year will take place during “New Beginnings: Creating New Paths in the Near Year,” a community pre-High Holiday Shabbaton on September 12-13.

Sponsors include The Jewish Theological Seminary, Congregation Bethaynu, Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, Congregation Shaarey Tikvah, Gross Schechter Day School, and Park Synagogue.

The refrain, “Who shall live and who shall die” resonates throughout the High Holiday period. Historically, this season was approached with fear and trembling, but ended with feelings of renewal and energy for the coming year. The Shabbaton will explore the themes of fear and faith in the religious experience through study sessions that engage in the interplay of new thinking about classic texts. The sessions will be led by JTS scholars Rabbi David Hoffman and Dr. Amy Kalmanofsky.

The Shabbaton will begin at Park Synagogue at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and include Kabbalat Shabbat (welcoming the Sabbath) services, a community Shabbat dinner, and a dialogue with Rabbi Kalmanofsky on the topic of “The Creation of Self: Religious Psychotherapy.” Child care will be available. A “Schmooze With the Scholars” will take place at 9:30 p.m. at the homes of Jim and Marci Rogozen and Frank and Beth Rosenberg.

Shabbat morning services will be held at B’nai Jeshurun, during which Rabbi Hoffman will deliver the sermon. Following a kiddush luncheon, study sessions with the scholars will take place from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Topics for study are “Prayer as Emotional and Rational Intimacy” with Rabbi Hoffman and “Now I Know That You Fear God: Mothers, Fathers and Sacrifice in the Bible” with Dr. Kalmanofsky.

The Shabbaton will conclude at Shaarey Tikvah with evening services at 7:00 p.m., followed by a “se’udah and drash" (light meal and learning) with Rabbi Hoffman and Dr. Kalmanofsky, havdalah (concluding the Sabbath service), and a festive dessert and wine reception. Rabbi Hoffman and Dr. Kalmanofsky will discuss the topic “Monsters or Madness: Fear, Faith, and the Religious Experience.”

A Rabbinic Fellow at JTS, Rabbi Hoffman is also a lecturer in the department of Talmud and Rabbinics where he is a doctoral candidate. His research focuses on notions of honor and anger in rabbinic literature and also explores the development of early Rabbinic Judaism in the first centuries after the year zero. A dynamic and engaging teacher, he has taught widely in synagogues across North America. Rabbi Hoffman was ordained at JTS, where he was a Wexner Fellow.

Dr. Kalmanofsky is an assistant professor of Bible at JTS. Combining her love of the Bible and horror movies, Dr. Kalmanofsky’s research applies horror theory to biblical texts and examines the ways the Bible is designed to terrify its audience. She is currently completing a book entitled Terror All Around: The Rhetoric of Horror in the Book of Jeremiah (forthcoming, T&T Clark/Continuum). Deeply committed to the ongoing interpretation of the Bible, Dr. Kalmanofsky also writes frequently on gender and the Bible. Dr. Kalmanofsky received her BA from Wesleyan University. She also received an MHL and rabbinic ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and a PhD from JTS.

The Shabbaton is being made possible by a generous grant from the Hereld Fund. RSVPs are requested by Friday, September 5. There is a charge for meals. To RSVP, or for further information, contact Michele Siegal, assistant director, Great Lakes Region, at (248) 258-0055.