Jewish Peoplehood, or Jewish identity, is transmitted dor l’dor, from generation to generation, through teachings and ritual. Yet many of us come from families that either turned away from Jewish practice, or rotely observed ritual without connecting with its deeper meaning. This turning away had many causes (the need for safety through assimilation, anti-Semitic trauma, yearning to explore non-traditional ideas). The Exodus, the central story of Judaism, tells of the journey from exile to re-membering our connection as a people with the Divine. In our time, many of us have made this journey in reclaiming our own Jewish identity. Together we will explore and share our personal and familial experiences of exile, and re-membering, reflect on the psychological and spiritual meaning of this journey, and consider how this understanding may provide a pathway for Jews who are currently alienated from or conflicted about their Jewish identity.
Carolyn Shoshana Fershtman, JD, PhD, is coordinator of Adult Education at Congregation Ner Shalom in Cotati, CA. Her psychology research dissertation, Carrying Joseph’s Bones: Reclaiming Jewish Identity and Healing Intergenerational Trauma Through Ritual Connection to Collective Memory, explored the experiences of Jews reconnecting with Judaism. Shoshana received her Ph.D. from the Institute of Imaginal Studies (now Meridian University) in Petaluma, CA, where she served as a core faculty member. She is a psychologist in private practice in Santa Rosa, CA, and has studied extensively with rabbis and teachers in the Jewish mystical tradition. She also has 25 years experience as an attorney, working with indigents, and working for Native American rights and environmental protection. She is currently working on a book based on her dissertation research.
Ever hear a sermon or dvar torah where the speaker twists themself into a pretzel trying to connect traditional text to current events? Rather than working from a Jewish text and building the bridge to current events, the News Minyan group does just the opposite. Developed over the last four years by Or Shalom Jewish Community, it is a spiritual form that uses our tradition's practice of wrestling with text to examine our own time, our own texts and the full experience of what it's like to be alive now.
L'dor vador -- from generation to generation -- has long been a guiding maxim for the Jewish people. Jews pass our traditions from parents to children, fathers and mothers to sons and daughters. Queerness (the quality of not being heteronormatively straight) reconstructs family and gender identities. It revises and transforms ritual obligations. It ignores the physical body as it has been customarily understood and pays attention to it in unprecedented ways. Queerness creates new societal roles to be fulfilled and also calls many traditional roles into question. We'll look at some ancient and contemporary texts and consider the ways in which Judaism stays the same and the ways in which it is shaken up by the recognition and inclusion of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) Jews. No promises that this conversation won't confuse, trouble, or newly illuminate your thinking. (In fact, that would be such a disappointment!) It will invite everyone to a richer understanding of holiness and peoplehood, that's guaranteed.
Rabbi David Dunn Bauer is the founder and coordinator of “The Jewish Queer Sexual Ethics Project” at the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at Pacific School of Religion. David's background and training includes nine years serving congregations in New York and Massachusetts; over twenty years of professional experience in theatre, dance, and opera across the US, Europe, Israel, and Canada; two decades of yoga practice; and many years of academic study in sexuality and spirituality. He earned his BA in Theatre Studies and English Literature at Yale University, studied Talmud at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, and received his rabbinical ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He is also an alumnus of the Rabbinical Leadership Program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. In 2011 he became the first Jew to earn the Certificate in Sexuality and Religion from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. His essay "Man-Boy and Daddy-God: The SM Dynamic in Ezekiel's Call and Commissioning" was published last year in Queer Religion, Vol. 2, edited by Donald Boisvert and Jay Emerson Johnson. Based in San Francisco, David serves as the Bay Area Director of Programming for Nehirim, the leading national provider of community programming for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) Jews, partners, and allies.
Over lunch, Rabbi Jane Rachel Litman will host a preview of the RRC’s new multimedia distance learning project explaining the fundamental theories and values of Reconstructionist. The video portion of the presentation will include comments by RRC faculty members Deborah Waxman and Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer.
Would you ever think to have an artist decorate your prenuptial agreement, and hang it on your wall? Just about everyone who's ever had a Jewish wedding has done just that! The ketubah, or Jewish marriage contract, has a long and interesting history, which local ketubah artist, Melissa Dinwiddie, shares in this colorful presentation.
Learn what a ketubah is, why it was such a radical idea when it was invented over two thousand years ago, and how it has evolved over the years—both as a document, and as a work of art. Melissa will share rarely-seen slides of antique ketubot, and will bring a passel of more modern examples for you to look at up close. She'll also show you a peek behind the scenes of her own creative process, from the chaos of wrestling with an initial idea, to the final work of completed art, and will be happy to answer questions about living the creative life in general.