Engaging Community Builders in Learning Through a Jewish Lens

Engaging Community Builders in Learning Through a Jewish Lens

When we began our partnership with the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America last year, our series dove into issues relating to Jewish identity and the American Jewish relationship with Israel. In our second year, we continue to touch on these themes and take a closer look at Jewish tradition and modern Jewish debates. Last week marked a true highlight of our partnership, as we hosted eight different and thought-provoking sessions for community builders of varying backgrounds. Participants included think tank leaders, Jewish educators, and Jewish members of Congress, among others.

The sessions were led by one of two Hartman scholars: Dr. Elana Stein Hain and Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman. While the subjects differed depending on the session and the audience, the goal remained the same: to elevate the discourse happening in our community, and to ensure that local leaders are bringing Judaism into the important civic debates of our time. As our community thinks and leads on the big questions facing North American Jewry and Israel, these discussions are enhancing our capacity to translate thoughtful ideas into purposeful action. Federation’s partnership with Hartman underscores our fierce commitment to providing all who are interested the chance to learn and grow together.

The latest round of thought-provoking sessions included:

  1. Challenges of Nationalism for Jewish Peoplehood. Attended by Federation Board members at the American Action Network & Congressional Leadership Fund
  2. Politics and Morality: How Separable Are They? More than 100 members of the community joined us for this beit-midrash style session, hosted at Beth Sholom Congregation in Potomac, MD
  3. Relationships and (Im)partiality. Attended by think tank representatives and leaders of national Jewish organizations at the Hudson Institute
  4. MeToo Midrash/Pace of Change/Reading a Male Canon. A session for Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy.
  5. Vertical and Horizontal Identities. Participants included educators and professionals who work with teens and young adults.
  6. Obligations and Entitlements: How American Are We. Attended by Modern Orthodox leaders.
  7. The Contemporary Zionist Discourse on Israel. Attended by an intimate group of community builders.
  8. Jewish Peoplehood: Being and Becoming. Attended by members of Congress at the U.S. Capitol.

This partnership is helping spur the kinds of discussions and debates that can serve as the antidote to partisan arguments. Federation believes strongly that our community can be a model on this front. We can show people what it looks like to engage in healthy communal dialogue, no matter how sensitive or complex the issue.

We are grateful to the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America for their partnership in this effort. Please join us at our next public lecture on Thursday, March 12 at Agudas Achim in Northern VA, to learn with Yossi Klein Halevi, Senior Fellow and Co-Director of Muslim Leadership Initiative at the Shalom Hartman Institute.