Hadar DC: R. Shai Held Book Talk

Rabbi Shai Held Rabbi Aaron Alexander Rabbi Elianna Yolkut

In Person
Date and Time


A common misconception is that love is a “Christian idea” and not a Jewish one. But what if we have it all wrong? Join Rabbi Shai Held as he introduces the central themes of the book then joins Rabbi Aaron Alexander and Rabbi Elianna Yolkut in a conversation on the centrality of love to the Jewish vision of ethics, spirituality, and theology. What can Judaism teach us about love, and what can a renewed focus on love reveal to us about Judaism?

About the Book
A dramatic misinterpretation of the Jewish tradition has shaped the history of the West: Christianity is the religion of love, and Judaism the religion of law. In the face of centuries of this widespread misrepresentation, Rabbi Shai Held—one of the most important Jewish thinkers in America today—recovers the heart of the Jewish tradition, offering the radical and moving argument that love belongs as much to Judaism as it does to Christianity. Blending intellectual rigor, a respect for tradition and the practices of a living Judaism, and a commitment to the full equality of all people, Held seeks to reclaim Judaism as it authentically is. He shows that love is foundational and constitutive of true Jewish faith, animating the singular Jewish perspective on injustice and protest, grace, family life, responsibilities to our neighbors and even our enemies, and chosenness.

Ambitious and revelatory, Judaism Is About Love illuminates the true essence of Judaism—an act of restoration from within.


10:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Light Breakfast

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Teaching and dialogue on Judaism is About Love

12:00 PM - 12:30 PM

Book signing

Faculty Bio

Rabbi Shai Held

Rabbi Shai Held, one of the most influential Jewish thinkers and leaders in America, is President and Dean of the Hadar Institute in New York City. Rabbi Held received the prestigious Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education, and has been named multiple times to Newsweek’s list of the most influential rabbis in America and to the Forward's list of the most prominent Jews in the world. He is the author of Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence (2013), The Heart of Torah: Essays on the Weekly Torah Portion (2017), and Judaism is About Love (2024).

Rabbi Aaron Alexander

Rabbi Aaron Alexander served for ten years as Associate Dean and Lecturer in Rabbinic and Jewish Law at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, where he also received his ordination.He has long sat on the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) for the Conservative movement, and is currently Chair of the Kashrut Subcommittee. Aaron serves on the Strategy Team for the Washington Interfaith Network, DC’s premier multi-faith community organizing network. Rabbi Alexander and his wife, Rabbi Penina Alexander, have three young sons, Ariel, Eliav and Amos.

Rabbi Elianna Yolkut

Rabbi Elianna Yolkut, strives through challenging questions, dynamic study and meaningful engagement to help people at all life stages reach a deeper understanding of and connection to Judaism. She is a connector, writer and educator who seeks to help create intersections and integrations between wisdom texts, human beings and ritual. She serves as Rabbinic Scholar, Director of Beit Midrash and Mikvah at Adas Israel and is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Hartman Institute North America Elianna lives with her wife and their three children in Washington D.C. When she isn’t parenting or teaching Torah she is likely to be found mixing a new cocktail, hiking a trail, cycling, swimming laps, dripping a high quality cup of coffee or on her Peloton.

Judaism Is About Love: R. Shai Held in Conversation with R. Aaron Alexander and R. Elianna Yolkut

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