Make It Count Day of Learning and Giving

Date: Apr 22, 2021 - Apr 22, 2021

Time: 10:00 a.m.

Sefirat Ha’Omer Day of Learning and Giving

We’re giving you outstanding Jewish learning all day long. And we hope you’ll give to JTS to support our mission: creating the best Jewish leaders for the Jewish future.

On April 22, you’ll have five opportunities to learn new insights about the Omer with JTS’s world-renowned professors. You can come to as many sessions as you’d like. 


Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz

Director of Israel Programs
10:00 a.m. ET
Coercive Consent?: Understanding the Moment of Revelation at Sinai
To what extent did we have free choice in the acceptance of Torah and Revelation at Mt. Sinai? How do we relate to this critical, liminal moment of Israelite history? And how did the rabbis understand the complexity of the covenantal experience? In this session, we will begin with a look at Exodus 19 and then explore four different perspectives on the dynamic between God and the Children of Israel. These views will both sharpen our own unique perspectives and raise more questions on Revelation as we approach the festival of Shavuot.

Rabbi Julia Andelman

Director of Community Engagement
12:00 p.m. ET
Turning Wheat into Bread: A Tale of Two Torahs
Judaism as we know it derives not from the Bible but from the creativity of the Rabbis. The destruction of the Second Temple wiped out the Israelites’ system of worship and the physical anchor of their communal and spiritual lives, necessitating a wholesale re-envisioning of Judaism. How did the Rabbis understand the connection between the religion they developed—rooted in newer texts and principles strategically called the “Oral Torah”—and the Torah received at Sinai? What gave it authority and validity? Were they transforming wheat into bread, as one parable puts it, or creating something entirely new? We will explore some ancient answers to these questions, and consider our own.

Rabbi Burton Visotzky

Nathan and Janet Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies
2:00 p.m. ET
What Exactly Did God Say at Mt. Sinai?
We will survey the range of rabbinic opinions on what happened when we all stood at Sinai to receive the Torah. You might be surprised at how differently people remember what took place then. What do YOU remember?

Rabbi Jan Uhrbach

Director of the Block / Kolker Center for Spiritual Arts at JTS
4:00 p.m. ET
50 Ways to Leave Mitzrayim
The story we tell at the Passover seder creates the impression of a miraculous midnight redemption—one minute we’re slaves, the next we’re free. But is that really how meaningful change happens? The hasidic tradition offers a “counter” narrative: leaving Egypt was but the first step in a gradual process of inner transformation, enacted annually in the counting of the Omer, 50 days from Pesah to Shavuot.

Dr. David Kraemer

Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics
6:00 p.m. ET
Counting to 50: The Omer, the Jubilee, and the Magic of Jewish Numbers
Fifty, or 7 X 7 + 1, is a little recognized magic Jewish number, present not only in the counting of the Omer but also in the Jubilee cycle. Indeed, there is an ancient Jewish book, the Book of Jubilees, that is devoted to charting the creation and development of the world according to the Jubilee cycles. What is the magic of these cycles, and why does Jewish tradition understand the world to acquire its freedom only with the arrival of the fiftieth?