“I LOVED my chevruta! I was a bit nervous about such a new experience, but Katie was so welcoming and just downright AWESOME! With as all over the place as my language experience is, I was nothing less than amazed that my partner not only has languages that back up to sketchy Russian, but at […]

“SVARA is my home.”

“You indeed created something that way transcends the intellectual pursuit of knowledge of Talmud.  I am so impressed about how deeply you have touched people. And what is most impressive are those people who did not have prior experience in studying the Talmud. Yours is truly Avodat Kodesh.  I am glad that I joined you in your last […]

Trans Alla That*: Teshuva, Transformation, and the Tradition

Fall 2005 Elul Bet Midrash Workshops New York City, September 18-20 SF Bay Area, September 25-27 Chicago, October 2 Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Benay Lappe will be leading a series of Elul workshops on Preparing for the High Holidays, using texts from the Talmud, Maimonides’ Hilchot Teshuva (Laws of Repentance), as well as Mussar (Jewish ethical) […]


Winter 2005 GTU Intersession 2005 January 3-7, 2005 The Jewish tradition purports to be a way of carrying out God’s will—but how are we supposed to come to know that will? And in our current world, where God and politics are increasingly converging, what can we learn from the talmudic Rabbis not only about the […]


Winter 2006 QUEER INTERFAITH MADRASA/BEIT MIDRASH Gender and Sexuality in Islam, Judaism and Christianity January 17 – 20, 2006 In this course we will read and explore the creation texts of the three traditions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, with an eye to alternative constructions of gender and sexuality. An integral part of the course […]

The Rabbinic Mind

The Rabbinic Mind In the wake of the destruction of the Second Temple, the Rabbis engineered a “new Judaism,” with new methods for perceiving God’s will and new “religious technologies” for Jewish meaning-making. What can we deduce about their understanding of God from this new system they created, which might inform our own understandings of […]

Friends With Benefits: The Chevruta Relationship in Rabbinic Text

Summer 2006 SVARA/GTU Bet Midrash Friends With Benefits The Chevruta Relationship in Rabbinic Text July 15-20 Chevruta* describes the relationship between two people studying a text together in a uniquely Jewish way. The 2,000-year-old method involves a back and forth of continuous reflection, both on the text and on the individuals themselves. In this process, […]

Tikkun Olam, Repairing the World: How Queer Ideas Become Cultural Norms

January 19, 20, 21 The Graduate Theological Union Berkeley, California Tikkun Olam, “Repairing the World,” has become the mantra of liberal Judaism. Yet the term never appears in the Torah, and meant something altogether different when it was first introduced two thousand years ago. Who came up with it? And why? What did it originally […]

Trans Alla That*: Teshuva, Transformation, and the Tradition II**

2007 SVARA/GTU Elul Bet Midrash Programs Come study with Rabbi Benay Lappe and SVARA in one of three intensive Bet Midrash Talmud study programs focusing on the Jewish traditions of spiritual introspection and repair, known as teshuva. The word teshuva means “return,” and describes the Jewish tradition’s process of healing and accountability. The teshuva process […]