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 of spiritual inventory and personal stocktaking, typically done between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, requires work and preparation that doesn’t always happen in the short span of the high holy days. For this reason, Jewish tradition has built in an entire month—the month of Elul—to allow us to do the kind of work that real teshuva requires.
It is a Jewish custom to learn (and re-learn) the texts of teshuva each year at this time, bringing our new selves to the texts and to our chevrutas (study partners), in the hope that we might gain new insights to bring to our relationships and to our own lives. In this course, we will learn (and re-learn) talmudic and rabbinic texts on repairing relationships (with others, with ourselves, and with God), refining ourselves, and confronting others, as we learn how to do teshuva as a daily spiritual practice, not just something we do once a year.
We will deal with such questions as: What exactly is teshuva? What are its components and how do I do it? What is the Jewish notion of “sin”? What if my idea of sin and my tradition’s idea of sin differ? How can I do teshuva with my body, my family, my tradition? How can I heal my soul, my relationships, my community? How exactly do I do teshuva with those whom I’ve hurt?
We will also learn texts on the topic of tochecha, the Jewish art of compassionate critique, as we ask the question: How can we jump-start the teshuva process with those who have hurt us? How do we Jewishly “call” our communities on their misdeeds or their inaction? How far does our obligation to protest against the actions of others go, and what are its limits?
The primary objectives of this course are to render the Jewish “technology” of teshuva accessible to those who may have felt excluded from traditional Jewish practices, and to create a community of learners engaged in serious text study to not only benefit from the tradition, but also to “upgrade” it as we bring new insights to it from the experiences of our own lives.
Like all of SVARA’s courses, this course is open to students of all religious, ethnic and racial backgrounds. Queer, Trans, Intersex, and GenderQueer Jews, Jews of Color, Sephardic, Mizrachi and working class Jews especially encouraged to apply.
All texts will be studied in the original Hebrew/Aramaic. While no translations will be provided, the course is accessible to students who meet the basic prerequisite of an ability to decode the Hebrew alphabet (ability to sound out Hebrew letters, without comprehension). No previous Talmud experience necessary. Beginners are welcome! All texts will be provided.
*Song lyrics from “Boy Girl Wonder,” by musical artists Bitch and Animal
**This course is open both to students who participated in the 2005 Trans Alla That Elul Bet Midrash as well as new students. Some texts will be relearned, as is the tradition; others will be new this year.
Co-sponsored by The Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies
The Graduate Theological Union
The Radical Roots of the Jewish Tradition and the Fundamentals of Talmud Study
In this important introduction to the mind of the Talmud and SVARA’s approach to Talmud study, Rabbi Lappe will present a comprehensive overview of the radical origins of the Jewish tradition, and then teach the nuts and bolts of Talmud study—the geography of the Talmud page, dictionary skills, Rashi script, Hebrew and Aramaic roots, prefixes and suffixes, and the use of talmudic reference materials. This lecture is required for all new SVARA students, and is an optional refresher for returning SVARA students.
9 – 12: Chevruta (paired study)
12 – 1: Lunch (optional lunch ‘n’ learn lecture-see below)
1 – 3: Shiur (seminar-style class discussion)
3 – 4: Chevruta (paired study)
Lunch ‘n’ learn Lecture: The Radical Roots of the Jewish Tradition and the Fundamentals of Talmud Study
In this important introduction to the mind of the Talmud and SVARA’s approach to Talmud study, Rabbi Lappe will present a comprehensive overview of the radical origins of the Jewish tradition, and then teach the nuts and bolts of Talmud study-the geography of the Talmud page, dictionary skills, Rashi script, Hebrew and Aramaic roots, prefixes and suffixes, and the use of talmudic reference materials. This lecture is required for all new SVARA students, and is an optional refresher for returning SVARA students.
Shabbat: Friday evening, August 24, 7:00 pm
Light Meal and Kabbalat Shabbat Service with Rabbi Tsipi Gabai
Pleaase join us for Kabbalat Shabbat at Easton Hall, 2451 Ridge Road, Berkeley. Free of charge. Open to the public.
Easton Hall Conference Center, 2451 Ridge Road, Berkeley, CA, across the street from the GTU Library. See photos atwww.cdsp.edu/conference.php
Students are on their own for all meals. Numerous restaurants and cafes are within a short walk of the Bet Midrash location.
Limited housing at special conference rates is available. For Easton Hall, contact Reservations Manager Tanis Cowlah. E-mail: [email protected]; 510-204-0705. For the nearby Durant Hotel on Bancroft Avenue, contact Reservations Manager Jennifer Kemper. E-mail: [email protected]; 510-809-4139 and ask for the special rate for GTU/CJS Talmud Study, code # E8000.
Non-GTU Students, $200; GTU Students, free. Note: This is a non-credit course.
This program is supported, in part, by a generous grant from the Koret Foundation and an anonymous donor.
Application: All Students may apply by completing the application form available here.
Payment: Checks for full tuition must be received from accepted applicants no later than August 10th to reserve a space in the class. Enrollment is limited, so please apply early.
Financial Aid: Limited scholarships and travel stipends will be granted to exceptional applicants, as long as funds remain available. Contact SVARA through www.svara.org or e-mail [email protected] to inquire about financial aid.
Withdrawal: Students who wish to withdraw from the course will receive a full tuition refund if SVARA is notified of the withdrawal by August 10th. No tuition refunds will be made after these dates. Students withdrawing after theses dates will be responsible for payment of full tuition.
Out-of-Town Students: If you are traveling from out of town and would like to stay with a member of the SVARA community, please contact us and we will do our best to arrange a home-stay.
For further information: All inquiries regarding course content, prerequisites, scholarships, etc., should be directed to the SVARA office by emailing [email protected].