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) literature. The workshops, like all of SVARA’s classes, are intended for those of all religious traditions, races, genders, sexes, sexualities, and religious observance.

The word teshuva means return, and describes a process of healing and accountability in Jewish tradition. 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 holidays. For this reason, Jewish tradition has built in an entire month—the month of Elul—to allow us to do the kind of preparation that real teshuva requires. We will study the Jewish tradition’s unique wisdom on repairing relationships (with others, with ourselves, and with God) as we learn how to do teshuva as a daily spiritual practice, not just something we do once a year.

During the workshop we will deal with such questions as: What is teshuva? 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? How can I jump-start the teshuva process with those who have hurt me? (On this question, the workshop will also include an in-depth study of tochecha, the art of compassionate critique.)

The primary goals of the program will be to render the process of return (teshuva) accessible to folks who have felt excluded from traditional Jewish practices and to create a community of learners engaged in serious text study as a Jewish spiritual practice. Rabbi Lappe will guide participants on a collective path as well as facilitate a space for personal introspection and healing.

As in all of SVARA’s courses, texts are studied yeshiva-style, in chevruta (paired learning) and shiur (lecture and discussion). All texts are studied in their original Hebrew and Aramaic. While no English translations are used in class, ample study aids will be provided for students with beginning-level Hebrew, making the workshop accessible to students of all Hebrew levels. A minimum prerequisite is the ability to decode (sound out) Hebrew, without comprehension.

Even if you have attended one of Rabbi Lappe’s teshuva workshops in the past, we encourage you to come learn with SVARA this year and make serious text study part of your yearly Elul practice. You’ll discover some new texts, some that you’ll want to re-visit year after year, and a whole new community of folks to learn with. Experience a truly transformative high holiday season this year!

*Song lyrics from “Boy Girl Wonder,” by musical artists Bitch and Animal

NEW YORK WORKSHOP: September 18-20, 2005

Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm (Kosher lunch will be provided.)
Monday, Tuesday: 7 pm – 9:30 pm

Location The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
208 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011
Phone: 212.620.7310

Tuition: $350

SF BAY AREA WORKSHOP: September 25-27, 2005
Co-Sponsored by The Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union

Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm (Kosher lunch provided. Kosher dinner buffet following class.)
Monday, Tuesday: 7 pm – 9:30 pm

The Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies at The Graduate Theological Union
2465 Le Conte Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709
For directions visit:

Tuition: $350 ($50 for GTU students, not-for-credit)

CHICAGO WORKSHOP: October 2, 2005

Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm (Kosher lunch will be provided.)

Uptown Bank Building Conference Center
4753 N. Broadway (SE corner Broadway & Lawrence), Chicago, IL 60640

Tuition: $100

An application form can be downloaded from our website: Please apply early, as class size will be limited to ensure both an intimate setting and the quality of learning. For more information, or to be put on our mailing list, please call Amy Fornari, SVARA Executive Director, at (415) 373-2038 or email [email protected]

Required Texts
All students will be required to purchase a source book of texts, reference materials, articles and study aids, for a cost of $15. Source books will be available for purchase on the first day of the course.

Financial Aid
Limited scholarships are available.