A Passion to Learn

I have just returned from a week of study at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, where I have the tremendous good fortune to be a participant in the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative (RLI.) Here 27 synagogue rabbis have the opportunity to learn in an intensive four-year program that includes in-residence weeks in July and January, and 20 weeks of web-based classes throughout the year. RLI rabbis are chosen because we occupy leadership roles in North American Jewish life and are dedicated to ongoing intellectual growth.

All of us have varied hobbies and interests — we have a few golfers, some who love to cook, some musicians, a number of athletic folks, etc. But we are all united in our love for learning. Like the proverbial “kid in the candy store,” the members of our group all talk about their joy in the experience of intensive, concentrated and sophisticated learning. We have the gift of the extraordinary Hartman faculty, who represent some of the best scholars in the various fields of Jewish learning that Israel, as an international center of Jewish scholarship, has to offer. As the week of learning came to an end, we were asked to share feelings regarding the highlights of the week. It was difficult to sort it out — how could one rate one scholar’s teaching above another when they were all exceptional?

Focusing on the “Ethics of the Holidays” we studied Biblical, rabbinic, medieval, and contemporary sources with an eye to the values and ideas that emanate from our traditions. In a powerful reminder of the timelessness of our texts, each lesson offered us an innovative and very relevant message. We are all struggling with a changing and challenging world; it is comforting and encouraging to find ideas A Passion to Learn

I have just returned from a week of study at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, where I have the tremendous good fortune to be a participant in the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative (RLI.) Here 27 synagogue rabbis have the opportunity to learn in an intensive four year program that includes in-residence weeks in July and January, and 20 weeks of web-based classes throughout the year. RLI rabbis are chosen because we occupy leadership roles in North American Jewish life and are dedicated to ongoing intellectual growth.

All of us have varied hobbies and interests — we have a few golfers, some who love to cook, some musicians, a number of athletic folks, etc. But we are all united in our love for learning. Like the proverbial “kid in the candy store,” the members of our group all talk about their joy in the experience of intensive, concentrated and sophisticated learning. We have the gift of the extraordinary Hartman faculty, who represent some of the best scholars in the various fields of Jewish learning that Israel, as an international center of Jewish scholarship, has to offer. As the week of learning came to an end, we were asked to share feelings regarding the highlights of the week. It was difficult to sort it out — how could one rate one scholar’s teaching above another when they were all exceptional?

Focusing on the “Ethics of the Holidays” we studied Biblical, rabbinic, medieval, and contemporary sources with an eye to the values and ideas that emanate from our traditions. In a powerful reminder of the timelessness of our texts, each lesson offered us an innovative and very relevant message. We are all struggling with a changing and challenging world; it is comforting and encouraging to find ideas in our texts that offer us fresh insights and guidance.

Mostly, we filled up our wells with the intellectual and spiritual rigor of learning. If our enthusiasm and ideas help to inspire the communities we serve, all the better. We certainly hope so! But in the meantime, we are all most grateful to the leadership and scholars of the Hartman Institute who have graced us with their gifts. And to the support staff who took care of us with such dedication and love. They have beautifully nurtured out passion to learn!

 

 

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