Manger Winter Learning Seminar
Sponsored by the Manger Foundation
January 2-6 & January 10-13, 2022
Hadar’s Manger Winter Learning Seminar (MWLS) is an opportunity for students and young adults to study in Hadar’s Beit Midrash and take part in an honest, dynamic, and multi-level exploration of Jewish texts with passionate teachers and committed peers.
Immerse yourself in a stimulating week of Torah study, Jewish music, prayer, shared meals, and conversation while connecting to an incredible network of peers who are excited about learning and are working to build bolder, more ambitious, and more meaningful Jewish lives.
This seminar is designed for students and young adults, ages 18-30, with a passion for Jewish texts and an openness to learning, sharing, and growing.
This winter, we are offering two modes for learning with Hadar:
- We will convene a Winter Learning Seminar at Congregation Rodeph Sholom, 7 West 83 Street, New York, NY, from January 2-6, 2022, where we can learn together. If you can’t wait to dive into a close cohort experience with people similarly passionate about living out a dream of Torah, tefillah and shemirat mitzvot in an egalitarian community, then this winter is for you!
- We will offer a 3.5-day virtual learning seminar the following week from January 10-13 that will include distinct learning on the same theme.
Participation is contingent on strict adherence to relevant COVID-19 safety regulations including showing proof of vaccination, masking, and testing. More information about COVID-19 and safety policies can be found on the FAQ page.
Speaking Up: Courage, Care, and Community
Our words are powerful tools that can build or destroy. Yet, we often give little thought when using these tools. What values should guide us in knowing when to speak up, and how to speak? How do we discern whether silence is healing - or deadly? What makes speech "private" or "public" and is there any way in which human speech is a matter between us and God? At this year’s MWLS, we will study topics including rebuke, lashon ha-ra and verbal shaming, paying attention to how these play out in various modes and media in our contemporary moment. Our learning will draw from sources spanning the centuries and genres of Torah as we seek to deepen our understanding and expression of speech that strengthens relationships and community.
Rabbi Tali Adler, a musmekhet of Yeshivat Maharat, received her undergraduate degree from Stern College, where she majored in Political Science and Jewish Studies. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, during her time at Yeshivat Maharat, Tali served as the clergy intern at Kehilat Rayim Ahuvim and Harvard Hillel. Tali has studied in a number of Jewish institutions, including Drisha and Midreshet Harova.
Yitzhak Bronstein is the director of Maimonides Moot Court Competition at Hadar, overseeing programming at the high school and collegiate levels. Previously he lived in Chicago as a Jewish educator for Moishe House, working with young adult leaders to strengthen educational experiences in their peer-led communities. He is a 2019 FASPE Ethics fellow (Fellowship at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics) and traveled to Germany and Poland with FASPE. Originally from New York, Yitzhak has studied at the University of Chicago Divinity School and Yeshiva University. He lives in Washington DC and is excited to be part of Hadar's growing presence in the city.
Rabbi Elie Kaunfer is President and CEO of the Hadar Institute. Elie has previously worked as a journalist, banker, and corporate fraud investigator. A graduate of Harvard College, he completed his doctorate in liturgy at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he was also ordained. A Wexner Graduate Fellow and Dorot Fellow, Elie is a co-founder of the independent minyan Kehilat Hadar and has been named multiple times to Newsweek’s list of the top 50 rabbis in America. He was selected as an inaugural AVI CHAI Fellow, and is the author of Empowered Judaism: What Independent Minyanim Can Teach Us About Building Vibrant Jewish Communities (Jewish Lights, 2010). He also received semikha from his long-time teacher, Rav Daniel Landes. Elie serves on the board of Natan and on the advisory board of Upstart.
Rabbi Avi Killip is the Executive Vice President at Hadar. A graduate of Hebrew College Rabbinical School, Avi also holds Bachelors and Masters from Brandeis University. She was a Wexner Graduate Fellow and a Schusterman Fellowship. Avi teaches as part of Hadar's Faculty and is host of the Responsa Radio podcast. Avi lives in Riverdale, NY with her husband and three young children.
Rabbi Aviva Richman is a Rosh Yeshiva at Hadar, and has been on the faculty since 2010. A graduate of Oberlin College, she studied in the Pardes Kollel and the Drisha Scholars' Circle and was ordained by Rabbi Danny Landes. She completed a doctorate in Talmud at NYU. Interests include Talmud, Halakhah, Midrash and gender, and also a healthy dose of niggunim.
Rabbi Micha'el Rosenberg is faculty at Hadar. He received rabbinic ordination both from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and from his teacher, Rav Elisha Ancselovits. He also holds a PhD in Talmud and Rabbinics from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Micha’el has served as associate professor of rabbinics at Hebrew College, and as the rabbi of the Fort Tryon Jewish Center in Washington Heights. He is the author of Signs of Virginity: Testing Virgins and Making Men in Late Antiquity (Oxford University Press, 2018), and with Rabbi Ethan Tucker, he is the co-author of Gender Equality and Prayer in Jewish Law (Ktav, 2017).
Deborah Sacks Mintz is an educator, practitioner, and facilitator of Jewish communal music, supporting those who seek to deepen their practice of empowered song and connective prayer. As a musician, Deborah has partnered creatively with a diverse array of voices in the Jewish soundscape; in addition to collaborating on over two dozen albums, she released her debut record of original spiritual music, The Narrow and the Expanse, in 2020 on Rising Song Records. Beloved ongoing artistic projects include Rabbi Josh Warshawsky's Chaverai Nevarech, New Moon Rising with Elana Arian and Chava Mirel, and Joey Weisenberg's Hadar Ensemble. A candidate for rabbinic ordination and an MA in Women and Gender Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Deborah serves Hadar's Rising Song Institute as an artist, consultant, and teacher. Learn more at www.deborahsacksmintz.com.
Jeremy Tabick is faculty at Hadar, where he teaches and curates and edits Hadar's content—both online and in print—and Project Zug courses. Jeremy is also pursuing a PhD in Talmud at JTS. He graduated from the University of Manchester (in the UK) with a Masters in Physics, and is an alumnus of Yeshivat Hadar and the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem. He is a member of the Steering Team of Kehilat Hadar.
Rabbi Ethan Tucker is President and Rosh Yeshiva at Hadar and chair in Jewish Law. Ethan also directs Hadar’s Center for Jewish Law and Values. Ethan was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and earned a doctorate in Talmud and Rabbinics from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a B.A. from Harvard College. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, he was a co-founder of Kehilat Hadar and a winner of the first Grinspoon Foundation Social Entrepreneur Fellowship. He is the author, along with Rabbi Micha'el Rosenberg, of Gender Equality and Prayer in Jewish Law (2017). Ethan serves as a trustee of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.
Rabbi Miriam-Simma Walfish is faculty at Hadar and a Senior Coach for Pedagogy of Partnership. She is completing her PhD in Rabbinics at Harvard University. Her interests include rabbinic approaches to gender, parenting, and education. She has published several articles, including, "Upending the Curse of Eve: Reframing Maternal Breastfeeding in BT Ketubot" (2017). Rabbi Walfish has taught Tanakh, Talmud, and Jewish Law in numerous settings including the Conservative Yeshiva, Hadar, Harvard University, Hebrew College, and the National Havurah Committee's summer institute. She revels in the process of learning Torah with and from her students.
Dena Weiss is Rosh Beit Midrash and Director of Fellowship Programs at Hadar, where she teaches Talmud, Midrash, and Hasidut. Dena earned a BA in Religious Studies from New York University and an MA in Theology from Harvard Divinity School. She has studied and taught in a variety of Jewish educational settings including Drisha, Midreshet Lindenbaum, and Pardes. She currently serves as the editor-in-chief of the Mima'amakim journal of Jewish religious art.
In-Person Sample Schedule
Week 1: January 2-6, 2022
Subject to change
Virtual Sample Schedule
Week 2: January 10-13, 2022
Subject to change
Week 1 (In-Person):
Speech Acts: Can Our Verbal Commitments Redraw the Map of the Torah?
R. Ethan Tucker
In this session, we will look at discussions surrounding oaths taken to override parts of the Torah. Does the Torah recognize this sort of autonomy as binding and meaningful? Is it possible to take an oath not to fulfill a mitzvah? Is it possible to take an oath to violate a mitzvah? We will aim to get a clearer picture not only of this area of Jewish law and practice, but of the power of speech and that nature of the covenant itself.
Speaking Up For Others: The True and Shocking Story Behind the Curse of Heretics
R. Elie Kaunfer
The entire Amidah is a series of requests for blessing from God except for one section: the curse against heretics (Birkat HaMinim). On its face, this can be a difficult blessing to recite. How can we include a blessing in our daily prayers that we may disagree with? Join us as we explore the origin story behind Birkat HaMinim which presents a fascinating case study of a Rabbi who stands up for others by reciting words he apparently disagrees with. Together we will look at this blessing, and consider how to understand it in an entirely new light.
When Good Torah Happens to Bad People
The Torah is a complicated tool. Sometimes, the Torah appears to succeed in its task of making us God's people: like God, close to God and good to one another. But, sometimes Torah can encourage or enable negative aspects of individuals and bad effects on society. And sometimes people who do not represent God's values come to represent God's Torah. In this class we'll think deeply about the question of whether bad people can produce good Torah or whether good Torah can produce bad people. How are we to relate to Torah with a tainted pedigree and how do we love Torah that's complicated?
Hearing God's Voice Today
One of the most common phrases we hear throughout the Torah is "God spoke". This seemingly simple phrase raises a lot of questions: How does God speak? Does God speak today like the Torah describes? How would we know? Is this a one-sided or a two-sided conversation? Can we speak back to God? Join us as we discover what this phrase means and explore different models of what God's speech might look like in the Tanakh and in our lives today.
How to Question Authority: The Merits of Idol Smashing
R. Avi Killip
Abraham was the first monotheist. How does a person advocate for something so different, and even contradictory to the ideas generally accepted by society? We will examine three stories of Abraham’s attempts to convince others of his ideas and will ask: What is Abraham's approach with each person? Are his tactics smart or ill-advised? Is he successful in his attempts to push back on the mainstream dogma?
Speaking Up in Halakhah
R. Aviva Richman
Sometimes we think of Jewish law as a fixed canon and expert scholars who have the answers to any specific question. But what happens when life is more complicated? We'll explore examples where halakhah depends on people sharing about their own lives and perspectives. Rather than being threatening or subversive, these examples provide a model for halakhah that can only fully grow into itself because of our initiative and courage to speak up.
Midrash and the Rabbinic Imagination: Time to Move On?
R. Ethan Tucker
Throughout the Bible, there are characters who disappear from the narrative only to reappear later in rabbinic midrash. While the reappearances may seem unexpected, there is often an overlooked biblical chronology behind these surprises. In this session, we will look at a few examples and see how these retellings bring new values and meaning into our lives.
Shaming on Social Media: MMCC Prep Session
Hadar’s Maimonides Moot Court Competition empowers students to engage with modern-day ethical questions using Jewish legal wisdom. Leading up to the competition, students are provided a detailed case involving an ethical quandary and a sourcebook of curated Jewish sources. Students construct arguments rooted in the provided texts to address the questions presented by the case. This session will offer time in havruta to dive into this year’s MMCC case, which explores if and when online shaming within a campus community is permissible as a means of combating discrimination.
The MMCC shabbaton and competition will take place at Pearlstone Retreat Center, February 25-27, 2022. It is fully subsidized.
Finding God in the Abyss: The Torah of the Aish Kodesh
R. Tali Adler
What did it look like to find God in the Warsaw Ghetto? How did one man make sense of deepest human suffering while locating himself uncompromisingly within Jewish tradition? Join us as we study the Aish Kodesh, the Piacezna Rebbe's weekly sermons delivered each shabbat in the Warsaw Ghetto and attempt to uncover how his Torah might help us make sense of our lives today.
Songs, Cries, and Sighs: Singing In Visions of a Changed World
Deborah Sacks Mintz
Song can serve as a container for moments where speech evades us - moments of unbridled joy and unparallelled grief - all the while shepherding us through our visions towards a world that is yet to be. In this evening of communal music, we'll sing nigunum (melodies) both wordless and rooted in the poetic texts of hope and yearning at the core of our tradition.
Week 2 (Online):
3-Part Tracked Learning
Praying Anew: Unlocking Meaning in the Words of the Siddur
R. Elie Kaunfer
The Jewish prayerbook is a collage of texts that reflect our deepest emotions, longings and experiences. But sometimes it takes some work to unlock this meaning. Together we will interpret the texts of our prayers, uncovering new insights and learning a method of understanding the prayerbook in a new way. We will explore this method through a deep analysis of sections of the Amidah and the Kaddish.
Illuminating the Good: An Introduction to the Teachings of the Me'or Einayim
According to the Me'or Einayim, Rav Menahem Nahum of Chernobyl, God is everywhere and in everything. The physical and the spiritual, the easy and the difficult. Even when we feel that the opposite is true and feel that our own lives or the world itself are bereft of God’s presence, nevertheless the world is saturated with God's goodness. In this class we'll explore some of the most interesting passages of this foundational work of Hassidic thought.
Ideas at the Heart of Hadar
Redeeming the Akeidah, Halakhah, and Ourselves
R. Ethan Tucker
The Akeidah—the story of the binding of Isaac as told in this week’s parashah—is one of the most central narratives and texts in the Jewish tradition. The Akeidah, however, also seems to be an act of attempted murder of an innocent, and anyone today who would claim divine sanction to kill his own child would be locked up, left for mad, and hounded out of any sane religious community. And beyond dealing with Avraham’s willingness to carry out this task, how can we deal with the fact that God commanded this seemingly immoral act? How do we respond to this basic dilemma?
Rediscovering Prayer: A New Approach to Interpreting the Siddur
R. Elie Kaunfer
We will analyze the first blessing of the amidah as a way of approaching the question: are traditional prayer formulas able to express my own values/ideas of prayer? What do you do when you "disagree" with the prayer's content? We will analyze the original Biblical context to help us connect to the prayer.
Hesed and the Origin Story of the Jewish People
R. Tali Adler
How did Avraham find God, and what does it tell us about what it means to be Jewish? Join us to study the Rambam and the Pachad Yitzchak on these questions, and our attempts to understand our own conception of what lies at the heart of the Jewish life.
In order to ensure all who wish to participate have the opportunity to join us, we are offering this program free of charge.
Is it for me?
If you’re a student, age 18-30, looking to deepen your Jewish life through learning, prayer, music, and community, then yes!
What precautions are you taking around Covid-19?
- All participants must show proof of vaccination against Covid-19, a negative Covid test, and must agree to wear masks when not eating in order to attend the in-person elements of the intensive.
- All other participants will not be permitted to attend the in-person aspects of the program, but are welcome to attend any virtual components.
- We reserve the right to change protocol and/ or cancel the program if it is unsafe to host as planned.
- We are working closely with our medical adviser over the coming weeks to fully update protocols and details.
What is it like in Hadar’s Beit Midrash?
See here for some frequently asked questions about what it’s like to study in Hadar’s Beit Midrash. In general, this program includes Talmud study in the morning, one-off elective classes in the afternoon, and evening programming such as a lecture, panel conversation, or live-podcast taping.
When is it?
Two weeks! January 2-6 & January 10-13, 2022
Are the two weeks self-contained? Can I join for both?
Yes! The curriculum for both weeks is based on the same theme, but the learning will be different each week. The first week will be conducted in-person at Congregation Rodeph Sholom and the second week will be online. Attend both to gain an even more comprehensive understanding of this year’s theme.
Where is it?
Week 1: Congregation Rodeph Sholom, 7 West 83 Street, New York, NY | Week 2: Zoom
Can I attend part-time?
Hadar’s immersive programs are opportunities to step out of your day-to-day routine and immerse yourself in islands of Jewish content and conversation. We strongly encourage all participants to attend the totality of our programs. If you have an extenuating circumstance that prevents you from participating, please write to us at [email protected].
What precautions are you taking around COVID-19?
- All participants must show proof of vaccination in order to register for the immersive. Unvaccinated participants will not be permitted to attend the immersive.
- At this point in time we are monitoring the situation and reserve the right to change protocol and/ or cancel the program if it is unsafe to host as planned.
I have more questions! How can I find out more?
Please reach out to [email protected] with any additional questions.