CURRENT ONLINE EVENTS

OCCSP: Orange County Community Scholar Program
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    • CSP Cultural Event – Why Tevye Remains the Greatest Modern Jewish Hero
      Date/Time: Thursday September 17, 2020 12:30-1:30 PM PDT
      Speaker: Prof. Justin Cammy, live from Northampton, MA
      Honoring Gail and Malcolm Geffon

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      CSP Partners: Congregaton Beth Shalom (Seattle, WA), Congregation B’nai Tzedek (Fountain Valley, CA), Congregation B’nai Israel (Tustin, CA), Temple Bat Yahm (Newport Beach, CA), Temple Beth Emet (Anaheim, CA), Temple Beth Ohr (La Mirada, CA), Temple Beth Tikvah (Fullerton, CA), Temple Beth Shalom (Needham, MA), Town & Village Synagogue (NYC, NY) & Valley Beth Shalom (Encino, CA)

      Liberal or Conservative? Culturally literate or behind the times? Funny or tragic. Beyond the Broadway musical and Hollywood film, who really was Sholem Aleichem’s classic hero and how does his message remain relevant more than 125 years after he first appeared in print? A tour of the birth of modern Yiddish literature from one of its most dynamic interpreters.

      A literary and cultural historian with research and teaching interests in Yiddish literature, Eastern European Jewish history, and Zionism and contemporary Israel, Justin Cammy is director of the Program in Jewish Studies at Smith College in Massachusetts and summer director of the Naomi Prawer Kadar International Yiddish summer Program at Tel Aviv University. He holds a doctorate in Near Eastern languages and civilizations from Harvard University and a bachelor’s in Middle Eastern studies from McGill University. In addition to appointments in Jewish studies and comparative literature, he also is a member of the programs in Middle Eastern studies, and Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian studies. His publications range from essays on canonical Yiddish writers to scholarly translations of Yiddish literature to critical introductions to new editions of works by Yiddish writers and memoirists. His book on Young Vilna, the last Yiddish literary group in interwar Poland, is forthcoming. He is currently working on an English edition of Abraham Sutzkever’s Vilna Ghetto, one of the earliest Yiddish Holocaust memoirs to describe the destruction of a Jewish city. In addition to his courses on Jewish literature, history and politics, Cammy has guided Smith students and alumnae abroad to study the religious and political history of Jerusalem, environmental challenges in Israel, the history and memory of Yiddishland, and Prague through the Ages. In recent years Cammy has served as research fellow at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem (2014); Webb Family Visiting Scholar at the Goldreich Institute for Yiddish Language, Literature and Culture at Tel Aviv University (2013–14); and Mellon Senior Scholar on the Holocaust and visiting professor of English at UCLA (2009). He is a regular guest faculty member at Yiddish summer programs at Tel Aviv University and the Yiddish Book Center. In 2006, Cammy was awarded Smith College’s Sherrerd Prize for Distinguished Teaching.

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    • CSP Material Culture Event – EPHEMERA The Treasure of Jewish Material Culture
      Date/Time: Thursday September 24, 2020 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PDT
      Speaker: Prof. Shalom Sabar, live from Jerusalem
      Honoring Rochelle Ambersound

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      CSP Partners: Congregaton Beth Shalom (Seattle, WA), Congregation B’nai Tzedek (Fountain Valley, CA), Congregation B’nai Israel (Tustin, CA), Temple Bat Yahm (Newport Beach, CA), Temple Beth Emet (Anaheim, CA), Temple Beth Ohr (La Mirada, CA), Temple Beth Tikvah (Fullerton, CA), Temple Beth Shalom (Needham, MA), Town & Village Synagogue (NYC, NY) & Valley Beth Shalom (Encino, CA)

      Should we preserve, research, and exhibit in our museums only the works of art and visual materials of the “glorious past”? As a scholar of Jewish art and material culture, I was always surprised to see that a simple Hanukkah lamp produced 300-400 years ago is admired by museum visitors and scholars alike while Judaic items of today are often thrown to the garbage after they are used. The museums’ curators with whom I discussed this issue dismissed it as something not worth the efforts and money. As a result, some 25 years ago I started to collect and study Jewish ephemera of today. Thus, for example, I asked all my friends and family to save for me Rosh ha-Shanah cards – and soon discovered that the iconography of the cards and the messages on them change on a year by year basis. Shortly thereafter appeared the first essay ever on the history of the Jewish new year cards from their first appearance to today. Many other categories followed – Simchat Torah flags, Tzedakah boxes, kosher wine labels, amulets, wedding invitations (as well as other events in the life cycle), yahrzeit candles, ex libris, dreidels, sukkah decorations, Haggadot, pamphlets, postcards, etc., etc. There are many strategies on how to get the items – including looking through Jerusalem Genizot, items that are thrown away by children of deceased relatives, products in the supermarkets issued for special occasions, etc. Each category presents the richness of the field and how much it can teach us about Jewish society. By now, my students enthusiastically continue to develop this field, and there is hardly any Judaic museum or major Jewish library, whether in Israel or abroad, that doesn’t understand the importance of ephemera for the present and the future.

      Shalom Sabar is Professor of Jewish Art and Folklore at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Sabar is the last Jewish baby born and circumcised in the ages old neo-Aramaic speaking Kurdish-Jewish community of Zakho. He earned his PhD in Art History from UCLA (1987), writing on the illustrated marriage contracts of the Jews in Renaissance and Baroque Italy. His research joins together the disciplines of art history and folklore, highlighting issues pertaining to the folk nature of Jewish art and Jewish material culture, visual materials and objects associated with rituals in the life and year cycles, and the evidence these materials provide about the relationships between the Jewish minorities and the societies that hosted them in Christian Europe and the Islamic East. Among his books are: Ketubbah: Jewish Marriage Contracts of the Hebrew Union College Skirball Museum (1990); Mazal Tov: Illuminated Jewish Marriage Contracts from the Israel Museum Collection (1994); Jerusalem – Stone and Spirit: 3000 Years of History and Art (with Dan Bahat; 1997); The Life Cycle [of the Jews in the Lands of Islam; 2006], and The Sarajevo Haggadah: History and Art (2018). Sabar served as editor of Rimonim (a Hebrew periodical of Jewish art), co-editor of Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore, Pe’amim, and a multi-volume series dedicated to the Jewish communities in the lands of Islam (both published by Ben Zvi institute). He serves as a visiting professor and lectures widely in universities, museums, and public institutions in Israel, Europe and the US. In addition, he guides travelling seminars to Jewish sites in Europe, North Africa, India, and Central Asia. One of Prof. Sabar’s hobbies has been collecting a wide range of Jewish ephemera, which serve him and his students as an invaluable resource for study, research and teaching.

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    • CSP “Late Night”Event – The Century of the Jewish Doctor
      Date/Time: Thursday September 30, 2020 7:30-8:30 PM PDT
      Speaker: David Solomon, live from Melbourne, Australia
      Honoring Rose and Dr. Hal Kravitz

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      CSP Partners: Congregaton Beth Shalom (Seattle, WA), Congregation B’nai Tzedek (Fountain Valley, CA), Congregation B’nai Israel (Tustin, CA), Temple Bat Yahm (Newport Beach, CA), Temple Beth Emet (Anaheim, CA), Temple Beth Ohr (La Mirada, CA), Temple Beth Tikvah (Fullerton, CA), Temple Beth Shalom (Needham, MA), Town & Village Synagogue (NYC, NY) & Valley Beth Shalom (Encino, CA)

      The 16th Century was a remarkable time in Jewish History for many reasons, one of which was its fascinating collection of Jewish physicians. In this lecture, David Solomon examines the stories of some of these intriguing Jewish doctors, graduates of the great medical schools of the time, including Moses Hamon, Garcia de Orta, and Roderigo Lopes, physician to Elizabeth I of England. David explores the lives of these impressive individuals, their significant medical contributions, and the unique and often tragic historical settings in which they lived.

      David Solomon, CSP’s 13th Annual One Month Scholar, is an internationally renowned speaker, a scholar across numerous disciplines, and one of the most dynamic Jewish educators in the world today. He holds degrees in Anthropology, English Literature and Jewish Studies, as well as Media Broadcasting, and has delivered lectures and courses around the globe in a diverse range of topics, from Modern and Biblical Hebrew, to Kabbalah and Jewish History, from Anthropology of Religion to Conceptual Art. Before his university education, David also spent almost five years learning formally in yeshivot in both Israel and Australia, and studied with several influential teachers, particularly in the realm of kabbalah. In 1996, following a varied academic and artistic career, David moved from Australia to London where he was first attached to University College London as a tutor and researcher and later ran and coordinated courses in Hebrew and Jewish culture for the British Government (training diplomats and government translators). Returning to Australia in 2004 on an extended sabbatical, David, together with Felicia Schwartz, co-founded the College of Jewish Studies, which aimed to develop dynamic talks on key Jewish topics as well as adult education courses for Jewish communities everywhere. In December 2006, David and his wife Marjorie launched the “In One Hour Series”, positioning David as an international educator and speaker. The “In One Hour Series” brings together David’s innovative educational talks, each of which serve as basic introductions to a range of areas in Jewish Studies. For many years David has also collaborated extensively with artist Rodney Glick on a range of projects, including the Glick International Collection’s Klusian Philosophy and the Alice Black Theory of Emerging Art. David is a former finalist in the World Public Speaking championships and has been acknowledged as a world-class public presenter by his numerous audiences. He has vast experience in communicating to a wide range of audiences, from school and university students, to the public at large.

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    • CSP 3-Part Series: The Art and Architecture of the Synagogue
      Date/Time:
      12:30 – 1:30 PM PDT (3:30 -4:30 PM EDT)
      -Thursday October 1, 2020 – Great Synagogues of the World
      -Thursday October 8, 2020 – Arise and Build: American Synagogues and Jewish Identity
      -Thursday October 15, 2020 – Modern Synagogue Architecture: Between Memory and Innovation
      Speaker: Samuel Gruber

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      CSP Partners: Congregation Beth Shalom (Seattle, WA), Congregation B’nai Tzedek (Fountain Valley, CA), Congregation B’nai Israel (Tustin, CA), Temple Beth Ohr (La Mirada, CA), Temple Bat Yahm (Newport Beach, CA), Temple Beth El of South Orange County (Aliso Viejo, CA), Temple Beth Emet (Anaheim, CA), Temple Beth Tikvah (Fullerton, CA), Temple Beth Shalom (Needham, MA), Town & Village Synagogue (NYC, NY) & Valley Beth Shalom (Encino, CA)

      Thursday October 1, 2020
      Great Synagogues of the World
      Jews are the “People of Book”, but they are also “People of the Building.” Given the opportunity, Jews have built beautiful synagogues for their communities for hundreds of years. Inspired by the detailed architectural accounts in the Bible and also by their contemporary surroundings, Jews in many places have fulfilled the concept of Hiddur Mitzvah (glorify the commandment) through architecture and architectural decoration. Great synagogues have been built in Europe of since Middle Ages, but especially since the lavish inauguration of the Portuguese synagogue in Amsterdam in the late seventeenth century the stream of impressive Jewish buildings has continued with little interruption on every inhabited continent throughout the world. This lecture illustrates this architectural and artistic heritage with historic and contemporary images and introduces many lesser known “great synagogues,” and many recently restored buildings.

      Thursday October 8, 2020
      Arise and Build: American Synagogues and Jewish Identity
      Jews came to America in three main waves. In the 17th and 18th centuries descendants of Spanish Jews – mostly living under Dutch or English rule – settled in the New World and many participated in the War of Independence. By 1800, these Sephardi Jews built synagogues in five cities – Philadelphia, New York, Newport, Charleston, and Savannah. By the mid-19th century, thousands of Central European Jews joined the mass emigration to the United States caused by political unrest and economic instability in Europe, and these immigrants established synagogues from coast to coast. Through synagogue design, Dr. Gruber traces changes in the organization of the American Jewish community and its relationship to American culture. The location, size, shape, and stylistic language adopted for synagogue designs throughout the century reflects the changing needs and values of American Jews. This lecture presents a wide range of synagogue types and styles, including humble and grand houses of worship, and synagogues in cities, towns and rural areas. While most publications on synagogue history and architecture focus on a few main population centers, the talk will introduce synagogue – past and present – from across America.

      Thursday October 15, 2020
      Modern Synagogue Architecture: Between Memory and Innovation
      What is modern in Jewish art and architecture? Since their arrival in America, Jews have tried to be both traditional and modern, and have often embraced the most contemporary art styles and forms. In the 20th-century, in both Europe and America, modernism came to mean something else – a clear break from artistic historicism, but also the break with many of the institutions, traditions and beliefs from which those historical forms and styles evolved. This illustrated lecture reviews the modernism that is now “historic”, and then looks at some of the most contemporary designs in Jewish synagogue art and architecture. The presentation is illustrated with photos of many less known or unpublished projects and buildings.

      Samuel D. Gruber is an internationally recognized expert on Jewish art, architecture and the historic preservation of Jewish sites and monuments and has been a leader in the documentation, protection, and preservation of historic Jewish sites worldwide for thirty years. He presently directs Gruber Heritage Global, a cultural resource consulting firm and is president of the not-for-profit International Survey of Jewish Monuments. He lives in Syracuse, New York, where since 1994, he has taught art history and Jewish Studies at Syracuse University, and is also Visiting Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at Cornell University. Dr. Gruber is an expert in synagogue architecture about which he writes and lectures frequently. He is author of American Synagogues: A Century of Architecture and Jewish Community (2003) and Synagogues (1999) and scores of published reports and articles. Since 2008, he has written the blog Samuel Gruber’s Jewish Art and Monuments. During the pandemic, Sam has been busy curating two on-line exhibitions: Romaniote Memories for Queens College under the auspices of the Government of Greece, and Synagogues of the South for the College of Charleston, for which he previously curated Life of the Synagogue. Dr. Gruber was founding director of the Jewish Heritage Program of World Monuments Fund, has consulted on cultural heritage projects for numerous organizations and institutions around the world. He served as Research Director of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad from 1998 through 2008 for which he organized and published over a dozen countrywide surveys of historic sites and monuments of Jewish and other ethnic and religious minorities in Europe. Dr. Gruber received his BA in Medieval Studies from Princeton University, his Ph.D. in Art and Architectural History from Columbia University, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Rome, where he won the prestigious Rome Prize in Art History.

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    • CSP 3-Part Series: Dynamic God, Evolving World: Judaism & Process Thought
      Date/Time:
      -Tuesday October 6, 2020 – Almighty? No Way! Embracing the God You Already Love
      -Tuesday October 13, 2020 – Renewing the Process of Creation: Integrating Science and Religion
      -Tuesday October 20, 2020 – And on That Day: Revelation & Redemption in Process Theology

      $36 per household – general public
      Free to CBI Members, CSP Members, Members of CSP Partners
      Speaker: Rabbi Dr. Bradley Shavit Artson, live from Los Angeles, CA
      co-sponsored by Congregation B’nai Israel of Tustin, CA
      Dedicated in honor of Sheila and Jay Witzling

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      CSP Partners: Congregation Beth Shalom (Seattle, WA), Congregation B’nai Tzedek (Fountain Valley, CA), Congregation B’nai Israel (Tustin, CA), Temple Bat Yahm (Newport Beach, CA), Temple Beth El of South Orange County (Aliso Viejo, CA), Temple Beth Emet (Anaheim, CA), Temple Beth Ohr (La Mirada, CA), Temple Beth Tikvah (Fullerton, CA), Temple Beth Shalom (Needham, MA), Town & Village Synagogue (NYC, NY) & Valley Beth Shalom (Encino, CA)

      Tuesday October 6, 2020
      Almighty? No Way! Embracing the God You Already Love
      With fresh eyes, we will revisit Biblical and Rabbinic understandings of God as loving, dynamic, and relational. What if God can’t break the rules? What if God wants us to choose freely?

      Tuesday October 13, 2020
      Renewing the Process of Creation: Integrating Science and Religion
      An exploration of creation in the light of science that allows us to articulate a deeper sense of space and time and the wonders of being alive, as stewards and partners in creation.

      Tuesday October 20, 2020
      And on That Day: Revelation & Redemption in Process Theology
      How do we distill the divine into words, how does the Universe speak through people? An exploration of what Torah can mean when we accept our role in verbalizing the Oneness of the universe into stories and instruction and redemption.

      Rabbi Dr Bradley Shavit Artson holds the Abner and Roslyn Goldstine Dean’s Chair of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and is Vice President of American Jewish University in Los Angeles. Rabbi Artson has long been a passionate advocate for social justice, human dignity, diversity and inclusion. He wrote a book on Jewish teachings on war, peace and nuclear annihilation in the late 80s, became a leading voice advocating for GLBT marriage and ordination in the 90s, and has published and spoken widely on environmental ethics, special needs inclusion, racial and economic justice, cultural and religious dialogue and cooperation, and working for a just and secure peace for Israel and the Middle East. A member of the Philosophy Department, his scholarly fields are Jewish philosophy and theology, particularly a process approach integrating contemporary scientific insights from cosmology, quantum physics, evolutionary theory and neuroscience to a dynamic view of God, Torah, Mitzvot and ethics. He supervises the Miller Introduction to Judaism Program and mentors Camp Ramah in California in Ojai and Ramah of Northern California in the Bay Area. He is also dean of the Zacharias Frankel College in Potsdam, Germany, ordaining Conservative rabbis for Europe. A frequent contributor for the Huffington Post and for the Times of Israel, and a public figure Facebook page with over 53,000 likes, he is the author of 12 books and over 250 articles, most recently Renewing the Process of Creation: A Jewish Integration of Science and Spirit. Born and raised in San Francisco, Artson holds the A.B. Degree from Harvard College, cum laude, in 1981. For 10 years, Artson served as the rabbi of Congregation Eilat in Mission Viejo, CA.

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    • CSP Author Event: EVENING: A Novel
      Date/Time: 12:30 – 1:30 PM PDT Wednesday October 14, 2020
      Speaker: Nessa Rapoport in conversation with Tobi Kahn EVENING: A Novel Live from Manhattan
      Dedicated in honor of Muriel Asch

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      CSP Partners: Congregation Beth Shalom (Seattle, WA), Congregation B’nai Tzedek (Fountain Valley, CA), Congregation B’nai Israel (Tustin, CA), Temple Bat Yahm (Newport Beach, CA), Temple Beth El of South Orange County (Aliso Viejo, CA), Temple Beth Emet (Anaheim, CA), Temple Beth Ohr (La Mirada, CA), Temple Beth Tikvah (Fullerton, CA), Temple Beth Shalom (Needham, MA), Town & Village Synagogue (NYC, NY) & Valley Beth Shalom (Encino, CA)

      Join us for a conversation between Nessa Rapoport and Tobi Kahn to celebrate the launch of Nessa’s novel, EVENING.

      Two sisters in their thirties, one grieving for the other. Day by day as her family sits shiva, Eve discovers stories and secrets that change the way she sees her sister and her own future. Evening unfolds the paradoxes of love, ambition, siblings, and the way the past continues to inflect the present, sometimes against our will.

      Nessa Rapoport is a novelist, poet, and editor who speaks frequently on issues of writing, culture, and imagination. Her new novel, Evening, published by Counterpoint Press on September 1, 2020, is the story of two sisters and their secrets, set in a shiva house as one mourns for the other. She is the author of Preparing for Sabbath, which was short-listed for the Books in Canada First Novel Award, as well as a volume of prose poems, A Woman’s Book of Grieving. Her memoir of family and place, House on the River: A Summer Journey, was awarded a grant by the Canada Council for the Arts and nominated for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among other national media. Her column, “Inner Life,” appeared for several years in New York’s The Jewish Week. She was born in Toronto, Canada, where Evening is set, and lives in New York City with her husband, artist Tobi Kahn.

      Tobi Kahn is a painter and sculptor whose work has been shown in over 70 solo museum exhibitions and is in numerous permanent collections, including the Guggenheim Museum; The Phillips Collection; the Minneapolis Institute of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Yale University Art Gallery; and the Albright-Knox Gallery. His paintings, sculpture, and installations have been commissioned by hospitals and sacred/interfaith spaces and are in corporate and private collections around the world. He has taught painting at the School of Visual Arts for over 30 years. He received his BA in photography and printmaking from Hunter College and MFA in painting and sculpture from Pratt Institute. He lives in New York City with his wife, writer Nessa Rapoport.

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    • CSP Virtual Israel Adventure: DIGGING DEEPER- AM TRACK: Touching the Spirit & Soul of Israel 2020
      Co-sponsored by Congregation B’nai Israel of Tustin, Temple Beth El of South Orange County and
      Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County
      Date/Time: 10:00 – 11:00 AM PDT (1:00 – 2:00 PM EDT Time)
      -Sunday October 18, 2020 – Ruth Calderon: The Renaissance of Israeli Judaism
      -Monday October 19, 2020 – Michael Freund: Bringing the Lost Tribes Back to Israel
      -Tuesday October 20, 2020– Udi Goren: A Walk of the Land: The Israel National Trail
      -Wed. October 21, 2020– Ayelet Gundar Goshen: The Roar of The Desert
      -Thursday October 22, 2020 – Melila Hellner-Eshed: David and the Tehom
      -Sunday October 25, 2020 – Rachel Korazim: Notions of Commemoration – A Tour of Yad Vashem
      -Monday October 26, 2020 – Shirel Horovitz: Israeli Artists of the 21st Century
      -Tuesday October 27, 2020– Dorit Rabinyan: On Literature and Censorship
      -Wednesday October 28, 2020 – Natalie Marcus and Asaf Beiser: “The Jews are Coming”
      Speakers: Ayelet Gundar Goshen, Uri Feinberg, Melila Hellner-Eshed, Uri Feinberg, Rachel Korazim, Uri Feinberg, Shirel Horovitz, Dorit Rabinyan, Uri Feinberg, Natalie Marcus and Asaf Beiser, Marc Michael Epstein

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      ** This travel adventure is free of charge, but we ask that you consider making a donation of $36 or more to CSP to underwrite one or more musical events with Israeli musicians who are in desperate need of funds due to the cancellation of their concerts and events as a result of the pandemic. Donations can be made at this CSP LINK or by check to CSP at 5 Klamath, Irvine, CA 92612. For more information about the types of musicians we will host, visit this Youtube Link featuring 9 musicians.

      If you dig beneath the surface of Israeli life you will find a new spirit alive in the country. It is the spirit of young and old, drawing on ancient roots and a very Israeli willingness to improvise, daring to re-invent what it means to be Jewish in the land of Israel. Join us as we set off on a virtual adventure of 21st Century Israel. We will meet poets and politicians, artists and musicians, archaeologists and writers, kabbalists and theologians, thought leaders and community activists, who are creating a new reality in our ancient homeland. Co-Sponsored by Orange County Jewish Community Scholar Program, Congregation B’nai Israel & Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County. For more information about our CSP adventure next October, check out this link. At the end of our trip, consider staying longer and joining all or part of the excellent spiritual tour curated by Rabbi Kvod Wieder of Temple Beth El (more at this link).

      About our Israel virtual adventure:
      Starting on Sunday October 18th and continuing through Wednesday October 28th, we will be offering online programs at 10:00 AM PDT and at 12:30 PM every day other than Friday the 23rd and Saturday the 24th. Though this series in no way can replace the actual visit we were planning (which visit has been postponed to next October), we do hope that it gives you a taste of what a CSP Israel travel adventure is like – thought-provoking, eclectic, deep, with lots of options. Our trips are definitely demanding (physically and intellectually), but they are immensely rewarding. So, pack some snacks, dress in comfortable clothes and lets go (to your chairs)!

      Sunday October 18, 2020, 10:00 AM PDT
      The Renaissance of Israeli Judaism
      Dr. Ruth Calderon – former Knesset Member, founder of Alma
      In 2012 Ruth Calderon surprised many Israelis, and perhaps even herself, when she was elected to the Knesset. Her party, Yesh Atid, won 19 seats, and Calderon was 13th on that list. But the bigger surprise was Calderon’s first speech in the Knesset. True to her pluralistic beliefs and excellent reputation as a Talmud scholar, Calderon gave an impromptu Talmud lesson that impressed even a Knesset member from Israel’s ultra-Orthodox political party, Shas. Posted on YouTube, the speech went viral, igniting the hope that Calderon could reconcile religious and secular factions in Israel, as well as bring together those on the right and the left. In her speech, Calderon called on Israelis to participate in Torah study, the military and civil service. She challenged the ultra-Orthodox domination on all religious matters in the state by asking the government to fund Torah study across the religious spectrum. Join us for a conversation with Dr. Ruth Calderon about her vision of a pluralistic Israeli society. Dr. Ruth Calderon is one of Israel’s leading figures spearheading efforts to revive Hebrew Culture and a pluralistic Israeli-Jewish identity. In 1989, she co-established ELUL in Jerusalem, the first beit midrash in which secular and religious women and men studied and taught together. In 1996, she founded ALMA in Tel Aviv, which is a Jewish liberal arts program for advanced learning. Dr. Calderon is the author of A Bride for One Night (2001), a personal homiletic reading of Talmudic legends, and Talmudic Alpha Beta (2014). From 2013-2015, Dr. Calderon was a Knesset Member from the Yesh Atid Party, where she was Deputy Speaker, member of the education and state control committees, and Chairperson of the Lobby for Jewish Renewal. Dr. Calderon holds a Master of Arts and a Ph.D. in Talmud from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

      Monday October 19, 2020, 10:00 AM PDT
      Bringing the Lost Tribes Back to Israel: From India to Nigeria
      Michael Freund – founder and chair of Shave Israel
      2700 years ago, 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel were exiled by the Assyrian empire. Ever since, mystics, historians and explorers have sought them out. As Chairman of Shavei Israel, Michael Freund has spent over 15 years seeking out lost tribes and hidden Jews to help them reconnect with the Jewish people. He will discuss his globe-trotting work with various far-flung communities such as the Chinese Jews of Kaifeng, the Bnei Menashe of India and the Hidden Jews of Poland from the Holocaust, and what this says about Jewish memory and destiny. Michael Freund is the Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel. Born and raised in New York, Freund moved to Israel in 1995, and was appointed shortly thereafter by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to serve as his Deputy Communications Director at the age of 28. After leaving the Prime Minister’s Office following the 1999 Israeli elections, Freund worked for the Jerusalem branch of Ruder Finn, the global public relations firm, and went on to found Shavei Israel in 2002. In addition, for the past 15 years, he has been a syndicated columnist for The Jerusalem Post. For his work at Shavei Israel, Freund has received a number of prizes and awards, including the Jerusalem Prize and the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism. Freund holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He is the co-author of the books “Do you have Jewish roots?”, which has been published in three languages, and “A Drop in the Ocean” and has recently completed his rabbinical ordination.

      Tuesday October 20, 2020, 10:00 AM PDT
      A Walk of the Land: The Israel National Trail
      Udi Goren – photojournalist and activist
      A personal crisis invoked by the 2014 war in Gaza motivated Udi Goren to set out on a two and a half month’s journey through the Israel National Trail – renowned as one of the world’s best and toughest long-distance hikes. Join Udi as he shares his stunning photos and personal stories of the people, natural wonders, and unique landscapes that moved him from despair to hope. Udi Goren has always been fascinated by the secrets this world holds. Growing up watching National Geographic with his dad, it was always clear to him that when he grew up, he would have to do some exploration of his own. He’s spent the bulk of the last ten years outside of his native Israel, and after several years of traveling, documenting and collecting stories from around the world, professional photography became the next step for him. Three years later he graduated with honors from the visual journalism program of the Brooks Institute of Photography in California. During his studies, he interned with National Geographic Television and with world-renowned photojournalist Ziv Koren. Udi is now back in Israel, documenting its varied cultures, people and natural beauty. His work has been viewed in several exhibitions and published in magazines both in and out of Israel.

      Wednesday October 21, 2020, 10:00 AM PDT
      The Roar of The Desert: A Journey to Israel’s Back Yard
      Ayelet Gundar Goshen – Israeli Novelist
      Join us as Ayelet Gundar-Goshen discusses her second work of fiction, Waking Lions, the first Israeli novel to engage with African refugee experiences in Israel. A clinical psychologist and award-winning author, Ayelet Gundar Goshen won the Sapir Prize in 2012 for One Night, Markovitch as well as the Italian Adei-Wizo Prize, and the French Adei-Wizo Prize. The novel was long-listed for the Italian Sinbad Prize, and for Grand prix des lectrices de Elle and has been translated to 14 languages. Gundar-Goshen’s second novel, Waking Lions, won the 2017 Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize. The New York Times Book Review picked Waking Lions as “Editors’ Choice”, and The Wall Street Journal selected it for its “Best Summer Reads” list. Her critically acclaimed third novel, The Liar, is forthcoming in English in fall 2019. Gundar-Goshen is a contributor to BBC’s The Cultural Frontline, Financial Times, Time Magazine and The Telegraph. Ayelet has lectured at UC Berkeley, Columbia University, UCLA, and Carleton College, among other institutions.

      Thursday October 22, 10:00 AM PDT
      David and the Tehom
      Melila Hellner- Eshed – accomplished scholar of kabbalistic literature
      With Melila as our guide, we will study the strange story from the Talmud about King David and the tehom. God told King David that he could not build the Jerusalem Temple, because of his role as a warrior. It was impossible, God said, to build a house of peace with blood-filled hands. So instead of building up, David, ever stubborn, decides to dig down, to at least build the Temple’s foundations. And when he digs deep, he uncovers the abyss; the deep; the tehom – that primordial chaos which, the Talmud tells us, is only kept down by a rock. David, being David, against all warnings, lifts the rock, and so, the Talmud tells us, “the deep arose and was about to submerge the world.” Melila Hellner-Eshed, Ph.D., is a Research Fellow of the Kogod Research Center at Shalom Hartman Institute and the Director of Maskilot, an intensive two-year program for female doctoral candidates, now opening its fourth cohort. She also founded and co-directs the Rabbinical Students Seminar, an interdenominational program for rabbinic students spending a year in Israel. She has been a professor of Jewish mysticism and Zohar in the Department of Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for over two decades. She received her degree from Hebrew University under the tutelage of Professor Yehuda Liebes. At the Hebrew University, Melila also taught in the honors teacher-training program Revivim and in the Amirim honors program for liberal studies. For the past three decades, she has been a central figure in the Israeli renaissance of study of Jewish texts by Israeli adults of all paths of life in various frameworks. She has been teaching and working with Jewish communities in North America, Europe and the former Soviet Union for many years. Her publications include A River Flows from Eden: The Language of Mystical Experience in the Zohar, (Hebrew, Alma and Am Oved Publications, 2005 and English, Stanford University Press, 2009). Her book Seekers of the Face – From the Secrets of the Idra Rabba in the Zohar was published in Hebrew in 2018, forthcoming in English from Stanford University Press. Melila also serves on the faculty of the Institute of Jewish Spirituality in the U.S. and is active in the ‘Sulha’ – a reconciliation project that brings together Israelis and Palestinians.

      Sunday October 25, 2020, 10:00 AM PDT
      Notions of Commemoration – A Tour of Yad Vashem
      Rachel Korazim – master educator
      Since the end of WW2, world Jewry has had to grapple with the meaning of the Holocaust. Israel society is dealing with this question in its collective memory, education system, political and social life. Reading Yad Vashem as a text, we will explore what it tells us about the development of the Holocaust narrative in Israel. Dr. Rachel Korazim is a powerful speaker and a freelance Jewish education consultant specializing in curriculum development for Israel and Holocaust education. She is involved with Jewish education worldwide; creating and implementing in-service training programs for educators, writing educational materials, counseling and teaching. As one of the founders and directors of a special program for Israeli soldiers from disadvantaged backgrounds, she was responsible for creating the educational framework and training teachers for the implementation of the program. Born in Israel, she served in the I.D.F. as an officer in the central training base for women and was later a member of the I.D.F. delegation to Niger (West Africa). She is a graduate of Haifa University with a Ph.D. in Jewish education.

      Monday October 26, 2020, 10:00 AM PDT
      Israeli Artists of the 21st Century
      Shirel Horovitz – artists and educator
      Who’s who and who should we know? In this session we’ll explore works of a few central Israeli artists of our century looking at the works that made or launched their careers. We’ll do all this alongside understanding the historical, political, economic and social climates which have direct influence on who makes it into the pantheon of great artists. This is a way to deepen your knowledge of Israeli art while touching on key changes in Israel in the last twenty years and peep into the mostly hidden mechanisms of the art scene. The artists we’ll explore include – Sigalit Landau, Yael Bartana, Gal Weinstein, Zoya Cherkasky, Vered Nissim and more. Using drawing, sculpting, video and sound, Tel Aviv based artist Shirel Horovitz, creates performances and installations exploring cities, communities and the relations between people and space. She earned her BFA from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem and her MA (with distinction) from The Interdisciplinary Art program in Tel Aviv University. Shirel exhibited in major galleries and art festivals in Israel and across the US and is currently exhibiting a sculptural installation in Bat Yam Museum of Art. Alongside her art practice, Shirel lectures, leads art tours, teaches art and is an art consultant to a variety of private groups and institutions among them Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Alma Hebrew college, Classrooms Without Borders, Ashdod Museum of Art, Azrieli LTD, Hartman institute and more. Drawing from multiple fields of knowledge, Shirel weaves into each experience aspects of social issues, politics, economy, religion and more to create a vivid and nuanced image of the Israeli reality. Her knowledge, passion and love of all that is Art, Tel Aviv and Israeli history are nothing less than contagious.

      Tuesday October 27, 2020, 10:00 AM PDT
      On Literature and Censorship
      Dorit Rabinyan – Israeli bestselling novelist
      Join us for a conversation with Israeli bestselling novelist Dorit Rabinyan, author of All the Rivers – a modern tale of love between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man. Rabinyan found herself at the center of a political scandal when her book was banned by Israel’s ministry of education from being taught at high schools. Rabinyan was born in Israel to an Iranian-Jewish family. She is the recipient Itzhak Vinner Prize, the ACUM Award, The Prime Minister’s Prize and the Jewish Wingate Quarterly Award (London). Her first two novels Persian Brides and A Strand of a Thousand Pearls were both international best sellers and translated into fifteen languages. In 2014 Rabinyan published her third novel, All The Rivers, an immediate best seller in Israel. Named one of the ten best books of the year by Ha’aretz newspaper, the novel was also awarded the prestigious Bernstein Award for Literature. All the Rivers spent more than a year as #1 bestseller in Israel and has been translated into 17 languages.

      Wednesday October 28, 2020, 10:00 AM PDT
      Hayehudim Baim – “The Jews are Coming”
      Natalie Marcus and Asaf Beiser – award-winning writers and show-runners
      We conclude our 2020 virtual Israel adventure with a program on “The Jews are Coming” (Yehudim Baim) – an Israeli Academy Award-winning satire now in its fourth season, airing on Kan 11, one of the official channels of the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation. The sketch comedy covers the history of the Jewish people from biblical times to the present, from Moses to Barbie and everything in between. Join us for a lively conversation with the show’s creators, Natalie Marcus and Asaf Beiser. The program will also feature clips from the new season, which have never before been translated for an English-speaking audience! Asaf Beiser: Based in Tel Aviv, Asaf Beiser has been a writer and showrunner in Israel’s highest rated, comedy, satire and drama shows for over 15 years. He is the co-creator and head writer of the award-winning sketch show The Jews are Coming. Asaf was a writer for Fauda, The Good Cop, Eretz Nehederet (The Israeli version of SNL), and many more award-winning programs for Israeli television. Natalie Marcus: Natalie Marcus is a highly acclaimed, award-winning, screenwriter and director based in Tel Aviv. For the past 10 years, Marcus has been a writer and showrunner in Israel’s highest rated, comedy, satire, and drama series. Marcus is the creator and showrunner of the acclaimed historically themed sketch show The Jews are Coming. She teaches comedy writing and lectures about writing and Jewish history all around the world, and lives in Tel Aviv with her husband and two kids.

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