JTS Giving Day 2020

Date: Dec 17, 2020 - Dec 17, 2020

Time: 10:00 am - 7:15 pm

7th Day of Light: JTS Giving Day 2020

JTS 7th Day of Light was a day of Hanukkah gifts.

We hope your Hanukkah was enriched by the outstanding learning of our world-renowned faculty. If you missed any of the sessions, we’re pleased to share recordings with you to watch at your leisure and share with your friends. 

Our learning together raised much needed scholarship funds for JTS students. We thank you for your support. It means the world to us and to our students who would not be able to embark on careers of service to the Jewish people without your partnership. 

If you would like to make a gift to JTS today, there is still time. Join us.

Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz

Director of Israel Programs
10:00 a.m. ET 
On the Origin of the Menorah: Text, Art, and History
If ever there were a quintessential symbol of the Jewish people, it is the menorah. The lampstand has become synonymous with the people of Israel and indeed is the emblem of the Jewish state. But what is the menorah’s origin? And how is it distinct from the hanukkiyah we are using to celebrate these eight days? 

Rabbi Naomi Kalish

Harold and Carole Wolfe Director of the Center for Pastoral Education
12:00 p.m. ET
Praying for a Miracle: What Hanukkah Teaches Us About Hope During Difficult Times
When Jews thank God during Hanukkah for performing a miracle, how do they understand God’s role and presence in their lives? We will explore how praying for miracles is an expression of hope when help during a crisis seems precarious.

Rabbi Jan Uhrbach

Director of JTS’s Block / Kolker Center for Spiritual Arts
2:00 p.m. ET
Light Up or Count Down? What a Debate About Hanukkah Candles Reveals
Should we begin by lighting one candle on the first night of Hanukkah and increase to eight, or start with eight and nightly decrease to one? The debate between the schools of Hillel and Shammai offers a window into two very different visions of the function and practice of Judaism, and what it offers in challenging times.

Dr. David Kraemer

Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics
4:00 p.m. ET
Exclusive Preview of the New JTS Library and its World-Renowned Collection
Step into the new JTS Library, a “classic” in every sense! Be introduced to some of the jewels of our collection; see our new spaces, including our beautiful Rare Book Room, our new exhibition gallery, our warm and inspiring settings for study and exploration—all of which are designed to enhance the user’s experience as a student of and witness to the riches of Jewish history and culture.

Rabbi Gordon Tucker

Vice Chancellor for Religious Life and Engagement
6:30 p.m. ET
When Sages’ Words are Quoted, Their Lips Continue to Move (Talmud Yevamot 97a)
In addition to giving us the mitzvah of studying Torah, our tradition also expects us to take the Torah that we receive from our teachers, and to make it, and its significance, known to subsequent generations. In this session, Rabbi Tucker will, with gratitude, aim to do this with the Torah of two of his teachers at JTS: Rabbis Gerson D. Cohen (Jewish History) and Yochanan Muffs (Bible), both of blessed memory.

After this session, join us for a festive Hanukkah candle lighting at 7:00 p.m. ET.


Borukh Ate

Performed by the H. L. Miller Cantorial School Chorus and directed by Hazzan Natasha J. Hirschhorn.

Borukh Ate zingt der tate a father sings the opening words of the blessing, and kindles the light, and its soft rays fall on his pale face. With just a few words, a poet Avrom Reisen paints a picture of a slightly stooped, weary man, who somehow finds meaning and holiness in a simple act of lighting the Chanukiyah. A gentle melody, almost a lullaby, reminiscent of a folk song, yet soaring with emotion, was written by a composer Solomon Golub. Both authors of the song were immigrants from Tsarist Russia, finding inspiration in the sounds of Yiddish language and folk music in their new home, di Amerike. When I first heard this song, almost three decades ago, I was also new to America, and, as an immigrant from the Former Soviet Union, new to much of Jewish knowledge. Yet there was something in this tune that touched me deeply, even before I understood the words. The singer was the first woman cantor I’ve ever met, Cantor Sue Roemer, z”l, who had subsequently become my teacher and mentor, and for whose choir I’ve written this arrangement.

The man lighting the candles in this song is not alone. His observer, moved by the image of the father finding something special, even essential, in the light of the candles, vows to keep the tradition goingzing zhe, tate, borukh atekeep singing the words of the blessing, my father, un ikh blayb dayn kindand I will remain your child. And so we keep singing the words of our tradition, carrying on the melody from one generation to the next, from a teacher to the students of the students, finding that the sweetest blessing of all is being able to share the light.

—Cantor Natasha J. Hirschhorn