Aug 20, 2014

This Sunday at CNS! "First Encounters: An Afternoon of Learning convened by Shma (featuring Robert Alter, Sarah Lefton, Deena Aranoff, Susan Berrin, Dan Schifrin, Rabbi Stuart Kelman, and Rabbi Menachem Creditor)

This Sunday!   
First Encounters 
An Afternoon of Learning
Sunday, August 24th, 1-4pm 
@ Congregation Netivot Shalom
Congregation Netivot Shalom and the journal 
Sh'ma are co-sponsoring an afternoon of learning focused on "First Encounters" to ready ourselves for the month of Elul and begin the process of preparing for the High Holidays. Join Stuart Kelman, Sarah Lefton, Deena Aranoff, Dan Schifrin, Robert Alter, Menachem Creditor and Susan Berrin for an afternoon of facilitated discussion around themes of "first encounters" with: God, art, death, birth, the opening lines of Torah, and the book of Joshua.

1:00 - 1:30 Opening 
Rabbi Menachem Creditor will teach about Elul as preparation for the new year and the theme of "first encounters" 

1:45 - 2:30 - First Session Block

Sarah Lefton on first encountering the Land: When the spies, and then later Joshua and the people, first enter the Land, what does that encounter look like? Sound like? Try out the approach G-dcast uses-storyboarding and voiceover-to make sense of the story in a new way that slows down your reading and flexes your midrash muscles.

Rabbi Stuart Kelman examines what to expect when you're not "Expecting":  Before entering the tahara room for the first time, one conjures up all kinds of thoughts and images. Is this what it's really like to encounter the 'meitah'?

2:45 -3:30-Second Session Block

Robert Alter examines the opening words of the Torah, Breishit Barah Elokim, In the beginning, God created the world: What does the grammar and vocabulary of this sentence tell us about the writer's conception of creation and the world?

Deena Aranoff explores the metaphor of birth coursing through the shofar service: Hayom Harat Olam, Today, the world is born. This session will explore the social, ethical, and theological implications of the use of birth imagery in our account of creation of the world.  

Susan Berrin and Dan Schifrin on having sacred experiences in "unexpected" places.  "God was in this Place, and I did not know..." (Martin Buber walks into a museum...) We will explore the ways art and museums can function as a "holiness accelerator," and how the experience of responding to art can help us shift from a materialistic "I-It" orientation to the more spiritual "I-Thou" in the rest of our lives.

3:30 - 4:00 shmoozing and refreshments

BIOS of Presenters  
Robert Alter is Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. He has written about literary aspects of the Bible and translated a substantial part of it.

Deena Aranoff is assistant professor of medieval Jewish studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Her interests include rabbinic literature, medieval patterns of Jewish thought and the broader question of continuity and change in Jewish history.
Susan Berrin is the editor of the journal Sh'ma.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor is the spiritual leader of Congregation Netivot Shalom.

Rabbi Stuart Kelman is the founding rabbi of Congregation Netivot Shalom and the academic dean of the Gamliel Institute, an online course of study for Chevra Kadisha.

Sarah Lefton is the Founding Director of G-dcast, the non profit Jewish animation and app studio that's produced over 100 animated shorts on Torah and Talmud, and 6 apps for preschoolers about the holidays.

Dan Schifrin is the Ideas columnist for "J," and the moderator of the upcoming "In Conversation" series at the Jewish Federation of the East Bay. He recently stepped down as writer in residence and curator of interpretation at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, where he worked on the exhibition "Beyond Belief: 100 Years of the Spiritual in Modern Art," in conjunction with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
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