Annual One Month Scholar in residence

20th Annual CSP One Month Scholar: “The Jewish Love Affair with Stories”

Speaker: Ariel Burger
Date: January 3, 2021 – January 31, 2021
Honoring of Tamar and Martin Brower
Supported by a grant from the Jewish Community Foundation Orange County

Jewish life has always been defined by two elements:
Law and legend, ritual and story, practice and belief. The realm of law was defined by key legal principles and was designed to evolve with new realities. While common practices united many Jewish communities, the realm of legend and storytelling was wildly diverse, wonderfully imaginative, and often boundary breaking. Together we will explore great Jewish tales, teachings about storytelling, and the ways in which stories can enrich our lives and bring us together. Over the course of this month together, we will travel along the timeline of Jewish history, sampling key stories and visiting great leaders, thinkers, mavericks, and rebels from the Bible through the modern age.

ARIEL BURGER is the founding director and senior scholar of The Witness Institute, a new project to empower emerging leaders, inspired by the life and legacy of Elie Wiesel. He is an author, artist, and teacher whose work integrates spirituality, the arts, and strategies for social change. An Orthodox-trained rabbi, Ariel received his PhD in Jewish Studies and Conflict Resolution at Boston University under Elie Wiesel. A lifelong student of Professor Wiesel, Ariel served as his Teaching Fellow from 2003-2008, after which he directed education initiatives at Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston. As a Covenant Foundation grantee, Ariel develops cutting-edge arts and educational programming for adults, facilitates workshops for educators, consults to non-profits, and serves as scholar/artist-in-residence for institutions around the U.S. When Ariel’s not learning or teaching, he is creating music, art, and poetry. He lives outside of Boston with his family.

Opening Lecture: Sunday January 3, 2021 (4:00 PM – 5:00 PM):
The Jewish Love Affair with Stories
The Bible begins with the story of creation and is filled with many other tales. Later Jewish texts offer a combination of law and legend, with the two intertwined. Why is storytelling so important? What do ancient and modern teachers say about the power of stories? How might we use stories to deepen our own lives?

Tuesday Lunch Series, January 5, 12, 19 and 26 (12 Noon -1:00 PM):
The Greatest Jewish Tales
An unapologetically biased curated series of what I believe are the greatest Jewish tales of all time, based on several key elements of storytelling that we will discuss. We will explore lesser-known stories from the Bible, Talmud, Midrash, and Hasidism that challenge and complicate simplistic notions about God, what it means to be human, ethics, and meaning.

Wednesday Early Evening Series, January 6, 12, 20 and 27 (5:00 – 6:00PM):
Stories by and About the Chasidic Masters
The Founder: The Baal Shem Tov
The Organizer: The Great Maggid
The Revolutionary: Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Thursday Lunch Series, January 7, 14, 21 and 28 (12 Noon -1:00 PM):
Tales of Conflict and Wrestling with Sacred Texts
This will be a combination of analysis of tales of primary conflicts in Jewish history and teachings about constructive and destructive conflict. We will also examine ways that Jewish thinkers throughout history have taught us how to wrestle with difficult texts.

Sunday Afternoon Series, January 10, 17 and 24 (12 Noon – 1:00 PM):
The Life and Legacy of Elie Wiesel
Background, influences, life story
Key themes and favorites tales
Legacy, message for us today

Sunday January 17th at 4:00 PM – Private Patron Event
Jewish Diversity and Pluralism
Judaism is a tribal phenomenon, with tremendous diversity in food, culture, religious practices, and aesthetics.

Sunday January 24th at 4:00 PM
Yiddish Folktales: A Learning and Art Experience
Join us for a Zoom exhibit of an illustrated Yiddish folktale. We will view the art and I will offer an artist’s talk about the process of making the illustrations, and then we will analyze the story and (time permitting) look at Jewish texts related to the tale.

Sunday January 31st, Closing Event (4:00 – 5:00 PM)
Jewish Spirituality 2021
What might a vibrant Jewish spirituality look like for our diverse community today? How might we design experiences and practices for ourselves and others that inspire? Drawing on teachings and practices of mystics and masters, we will learn some basic practices to enrich our lives.