Session One

Beit Kehillah
Judaism 4.0
w/ Zack Bodner

Judaism 1.0 was the Judaism of the Mishkan.  Judaism 2.0 was the Judaism of the Temple, the Priesthood and animal sacrifice.  Judaism 3.0 was/is the Judaism of the Diaspora, the synagogue, the rabbinate, and of centralized establishment institutions that set the rules.  Today, as Jews connect and commune differently – from camp-led Rosh Hashanah services to wilderness-based Bar Mitzvahs to JCC-hosted holiday events to DIY Passover seders – we must acknowledge that Judaism is going through a revolution.  What will this new Judaism look like - this Judaism 4.0?

Zack Bodner has been the CEO of the OFJCC since August of 2013.  Before joining the JCC, he served for 14 years as the Pacific Northwest Regional Director of AIPAC.  Zack holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy of Religion and Theology from Claremont Graduate University, a Bachelor’s degree from Yale, and has studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem as well as Stanford GSB.  When Zack is not working on reinventing Judaism, he spends time with his wife and three children.

Room Bet
The Four Children: Questions and Responses in the Haggadah, Torah, and Pirkei Avot
w/ David Zimand & Ora Gittelson-David

Join us in taking a close look at the Passover Haggadah's presentation of language used by different kinds of students. We will also reference the Biblical texts that inspired this discussion and consider the differences in how the questions and responses are paired. Bringing in texts from Pirkei Avot, we will explore together conceptions of students and their approaches to learning. 

David Zimand is the new Head of School at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School. He is delighted to be joining the community after working for 21 rewarding years in Washington, DC, at the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation's Capital and the National Cathedral School for Girls.

Ora Gittelson-David is the Director of Jewish Studies at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School where she has worked for 14 years. In addition to her work as a teacher, Ora spent many years as a social worker in Israel and the United States. She cherishes the opportunity to bring her professional experiences together in leading Hausner's Avodah La'Olam program.

Chapel
Practicing Sacred Speech while Pursuing Justice
w/ Rabbi Amy Eilberg

Many of us are moved more urgently than ever to act on the imperative to work for justice and equality in American society.  Justice work inspires passion, and rightly so.  But how do we do this work in a way that is consistent with Jewish ethics of speech?

Rabbi Amy Eilberg serves as the director of the Pardes Rodef Shalom (Pursuer of Peace) Communities Program, helping synagogues and Jewish organizations place the pursuit of peace in interpersonal relationships at the center of their communal mission. Rabbi Eilberg also serves as a spiritual director and interfaith justice activist from her new home in Los Altos. Her book, From Enemy to Friend: Jewish Wisdom and the Pursuit of Peace, was published by Orbis Books in March 2014.

Conference
The Kabbala of the Spoken Word
w/ Rabbi Dr. Laibl Wolf

Words reveal and words hide.  The session focuses on the nature of interpersonal relationships and effective communication as dynamic expressions of cosmic Oneness.   

Rabbi Dr. Laibl Wolf is an authority on spirituality and lectures annually in over 70 cities throughout the world. He has adaptedKabbalistic insights to provide atraining program with practical application to the minutiae of everyday life. He received his rabbinic ordination from the Chief Rabbi of Israel, studied under chassidic masters, and alsoholds degrees in Law, Psychology and Comparative Religion.  Founder and Dean of the Spiritgrow – Josef Kryss Wholistic Center inMelbourne, Australia,  he lives therewith his wife Leah and the younger two of his seven children.

Room Gimmel
Words on Campus: Do they Mean What you Think They Mean?
w/ Rabbi Serena Eisenberg

This session will unlock and unpack the lingo of the young adult of the 21st century (today’s college student) to words and the concepts behind them for adults born in the middle of the last century.  Join us to better understand how language and the power of words expresses how college students and their cohort think about the future and about the state of the world we find ourselves in today.

Rabbi Serena Eisenberg is the executive director of Hillel@Stanford. Previously, she served as the Hillel director and associate chaplain at Brown University. Serena is part of several fellowship alumni networks, including the Wexner, Mandel Jerusalem Fellows, Upstart, CLAL Rabbis Without Borders, and the Institute of Jewish Spirituality.

 

Room 13
Leonard Cohen in Hebrew
w/ Tova Birnbaum

The singer songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen brilliantly weaved into his lyrics biblical imagery, Talmudic stories and liturgical texts. In a text study session we will uncover the traditional sources that inspired his writing."

Tova Birnbaum is the Director of Jewish Content at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto. She was born in B’nai B’rak in an Ultra-Orthodox home, was one of the founders of the BINA Secular Yeshiva in Tel Aviv and recently served as the Director of the North America Region of the World Zionist Organization. She holds a BA in Psychology and Jewish Philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an MA in Theater from Tel Aviv University.

Room 15
The Empowering Gift of Speech
w/ Rabbi Zalman Levin & Devorah Levin

Based on anecdotes from the Talmud, Midrash, and practical experience of a Speech Language Pathologist, we will look at how we can best utilize the gift of speech to make a positive impact on our daily relationships and environment. 

Rabbi Zalman was born and raised in Palo Alto. He received his rabbinic ordination in NY in 2010, and returned home with his family in 2011.
Devorah is a certified Speech Language Pathologist who helped many children in New York schools improve their communication skills.. Together, they co-direct Chabad Palo Alto, alongside Rabbi Zalman's parents Rabbi Yosef and Dena Levin, and are assisted by their three little girls! Their major emphasis continues to be empowerment through education

Room 16
Is it Kosher to be a Whistle Blower?
w/ Rabbi Joey Felsen

Using primary texts of the Torah, Talmud and other classic Jewish legal works, this class will explore the parameters of sharing information that can have a major impact on others. 

Rabbi Joey Felsen, Founder and Executive Director of the JSN, hails from Toronto, Canada. Rabbi Felsen teaches classes at the JCCs in Palo Alto and Los Gatos, as well as a host of other venues.  He is the founding Board President of Meira Academy and a recipient of the prestigious Grinspoon-Steinhardt National Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.

Room 5&6
The Qur’an on the Jews
w/ Rabbi Reuven Firestone

Some have claimed that the Qur’an commands death to the Jews. Other have said that the Qur’an respects the Jews. What does the Qur’an really say about Jews? We will look at the full range of qur’anic material that treats Jews and Judaism in order to make an informed assessment.

Reuven Firestone is the Regenstein Professor in medieval Judaism and Islam at Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles and Senior Fellow of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California. He is the author of multiple books on Judaism and Islam.  He has served as Vice President of the Association for Jewish Studies and President of the International Qur’anic Studies Association, and has written more than 100 scholarly articles and book chapters.

Room Alef
The Power of Words to Transform Time
w/ Rabbi Chaim Koritzinsky & Rabbi Sarah Graff

Join us as we explore the audacious assertions embedded in our Friday night shabbat table rituals.  Discuss how these rituals and the words we use can radically transform our time, our consciousness, and the way we relate to one another. 

Rabbi Chaim Koritzinsky is in his 2nd year at Congregation Etz Chayim. Previously, he founded Ruaj Ami, an egalitarian congregation in Santiago, Chile. Rabbi Koritzinsky was ordained at Hebrew College in Newton, MA, where he was part of the pioneer class of the school's trans-denominational rabbinic program.

Rabbi Sarah Graff is now in her 16th year at Kol Emeth.  Other claims to fame include creating an illustrated kids' siddur for Camp Ramah and being a 5th generation Cubs fan.

Sanctuary
Close Encounters of the Poetic Kind
w/ Rabbi Janet Marder & Rabbi Shelly Marder

“Poetry,” wrote Seamus Heaney, “is language in orbit.” In this session we’ll experience the transformative power of words through a reflective reading of two great American Jewish poets of the 20th century, Charles Reznikoff and Stanley Kunitz.  Both were masters of poetic language; both offer profound meditations on spiritual themes and the human condition.

Rabbi Janet Marder is in her 18th year at Congregation Beth Am. She loves literature, art, studying Torah and being with her two year old granddaughter. She and her husband, Rabbi Shelly Marder, were the lead editors and translators of Mishkan HaNefesh: Machzor for the Days of Awe.

Rabbi Shelly Marder is in his 18th year at the Jewish Home in San Francisco, where he provides pastoral care, leads worship and teaches Judaism through art, literature and poetry. He has published many articles on poetry and liturgy, using Jewish texts in pastoral care, aging and spirituality.

Session Two


Room Bet
The Magic Words
w/ Rabbi Yosef Levin & David Waksberg

Words can elevate or diminish our spirits and capacities.  We will explore what Jewish sources and science tell us about how language can help or hinder learning. We will look at what Talmud, Kabbalah, contemporary psychology and educational research teach us about how words and language can help or hinder learning.Chapel

Rabbi Yosef Levin is Executive Director of Chabad of Greater South Bay, reaching out with love to Jews of all backgrounds and levels of observance. He has been teaching classes on Torah, Chassidut and Kabbalah in the Palo Alto area for over 36 years. Among other courses, he teaches 3 annual JLI courses, a weekly Torah Studies class and RIIH, a Hebrew reading course.

David Waksberg has been CEO of Jewish LearningWorkssince 2007.  Before joining the BJE in 2007, David worked as a software executive.  Prior to that, David was a leader in the movement to rescue Soviet Jews. He is the former president of Congregation Kol Emeth. David is a graduate of Brandeis University, where he studied Sociology and Education.  He lives in Palo Alto, is married to Ellen Bob and is the father of three adult children.

Chapel
Words that Heal Relationships: The Power of Apology and Forgiveness
w/ Louis Newman & Rabbi Amy Eilberg

The statements "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you" are among the most difficult words we ever speak.    Together we'll explore texts and stories that explain why these simple words are so hard to offer and how transformative they can be for us and our relationships. 

Louis Newman serves as the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Director of Undergraduate Advising and Research at Stanford University.  He taught Judaism and Jewish ethics for over 30 years at Carleton College, and is known as one of the country’s leading scholars of Jewish ethics. His most recent book is Repentance:  the Meaning and Practice of Teshuvah (Jewish Lights 2010). 

Rabbi Amy Eilberg serves as the director of the Pardes Rodef Shalom (Pursuer of Peace) Communities Program, helping synagogues and Jewish organizations place the pursuit of peace in interpersonal relationships at the center of their communal mission. Rabbi Eilberg also serves as a spiritual director and interfaith justice activist from her new home in Los Altos. Her book, From Enemy to Friend: Jewish Wisdom and the Pursuit of Peace, was published by Orbis Books in March 2014.

Conference Room
Jewish Meditational ‘Mantras’: How words reveal the power of the soul
w/ Rabbi Dr. Laibl Wolf

Words and behaviors have a ‘feed-back loop’ that affect the way we think and feel. What sounds and words liberate or imprison the Jewish soul? The session includes experiential Jewish meditation.

Rabbi Dr. Laibl Wolf is an authority on spirituality and lectures annually in over 70 cities throughout the world. He has adaptedKabbalistic insights to provide atraining program with practical application to the minutiae of everyday life. He received his rabbinic ordination from the Chief Rabbi of Israel, studied under chassidic masters, and alsoholds degrees in Law, Psychology and Comparative Religion.  Founder and Dean of the Spiritgrow – Josef Kryss Wholistic Center inMelbourne, Australia,  he lives therewith his wife Leah and the younger two of his seven children.

Room Gimmel
Hybrid Judaism: Identity and Encounter in American Jewish Life
w/ Rabbi Darren Kleinberg, Ph.D.

The New York Times called 2015 "The Year we Obsessed Over Identity." Rachel Dolezol and Caitlyn Jenner have publicly challenged inherited notions of identity. At the same time, the American Jewish community is having an identity crisis of its own. The misnomer 'pluralism' is at the heart of the matter. In this session we will will consider the shifting tides of identity within the American Jewish community and beyond and propose that 'pluralism' be replaced with 'postenthnicity.'

Darren Kleinberg is Head of School at Kehillah Jewish High School, in Palo Alto, CA. Ordained in 2005, Rabbi Kleinberg received his doctorate in 2014. He also serves as a faculty member of the Wexner Heritage Program. The title of his recently published book is "Hybrid Judaism: Irving Greenberg, Encounter, and the Changing Nature of American Jewish Identity."

Sanctuary
Jewish and Christian Visions of Resurrection of the Dead
w/ Rabbi Ari Cartun & Pastor Danielle Parish

Yes, many Jews do find resurrection reasonable, and have for well over 2000 years. Christian expectations of resurrection began as 1st century CE Jewish visions, and developed distinctive differences over time, as did Jewish imaginations. Hear about some, and feel free to say how you respond to them.

Rabbi Ari Mark Cartun, a member of the Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Reform Rabbinical associations, is Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Etz Chayim in Palo Alto. Before that he was the Executive Director of Stanford Hillel. He was founder and President of Stanford's Associated Ministries, and, as part of his rabbinic training, he attended "Inter/Met," an interfaith seminary in Washington, DC, as well as served on the staff of the Interfaith Commission of Greater Washington D.C.

A pastor on the Peninsula for the past 20 years, Danielle Parish is a founding pastor of Spark Church in Palo Alto, which meets at Congregation Etz Chayim. Since 2003, Danielle has traveled to and from Israel, living there and studying at Jerusalem University College, leading historical and archaeological study tours of Israel since 2008. Rabbi Ari Cartun and Pastor Danielle recently launched a new venture, www.RabbiAndPastor.net, offering Israel study tours and podcasts, promoting Jewish Christian dialogue and understanding.

Room 13
The Power of Words (in Russian)
w/ Miron Balyasny

Nowadays, the power and essence of words are lost. Throughout the entire history of Jewry, reading of the Torah was far more than just intellectual effort. The words of the Eternal Book are meant to guide us to basic values of life and be applied to “here and now”.

As it is said in Baal HaSulam’s Shamati No. 161: “Concerning the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai: it does not mean that the Torah was given then, and that now it is not... However, we are unfit to receive.”

Why aren’t we “fit to receive? What should we do to regain the power of words?

Miron Balyasny, a certified lecturer of the International Academy of Kabbalah that offers the Internet and live classes based on authentic Kabbalah texts. Miron is affiliated with Israeli “Bnei Baruch” and “San Francisco American West Learning Center”. 10 years of educational experience with the emphasis to develop in students a new approach to life and give them the basis to evaluate current world events in the light of the ancient Wisdom.

 

Room 9
Spiritual Writing: What We have to Say When We Have the Will To Say It
w/ Adam Weisberg

In this session, we will open with song, find our center, write from our hearts, and maybe share the words that most need to be said. Will you have to share? No. Will you want to? That's the hope.

Adam Weisberg has worked in the Jewish community for a long time and in a few different places, mostly with young adults and teens.  He currently works at the Jewish Community Federation as the Diller Teen Initiatives Director, and at home as the father to two magnificent teens. 

Room 15
A thousand names yet no words: a conversation about God and our understanding of the divine
w/ Rabbi Lauren Ben-Shoshan & Rabbi Miriam Philips

We will explore the words and images used throughout Jewish tradition and Western culture to try and grasp God. The way people speak of God tries to communicate their relationship (or lack thereof) with spirituality and the Divine. Maybe, if we are lucky, we will come up with a few words of our own.

Born in Washington DC and raised in Virginia, Rabbi Lauren Ben-Shoshan holds her undergraduate degrees in Religion and History from The College of William and Mary. She was ordained as a rabbi at Hebrew Union College - Institute of Religion, where she also received her Masters in Religious Education through the Mandel Fellowship. She currently attempts to achieve spiritual peace while her four small children zoom around her knees.

Raised mostly in Washington state in a practicing Reform Jewish home, Rabbi Miriam Philips received the M.A. in Education from HUC-JIR in Los Angeles (coincidentally, also as a Mandel Fellow) and ordination there two years later. After serving a congregation in Massachusetts for four years, she, her husband, and her 8 month old daughter left snowy New England for the Bay Area, where she joined Congregation Beth Am as their new Director of Family Learning this past July. Rabbi Philips finds inspiration in her mischief-making one-year old, in art and dance, in the depth and richness of Jewish tradition (including prayer and text study), and particularly in the people she gets to know as an educator and rabbi.

Room 16
Think Again! Jewish words that don't mean what you think they mean
w/ Rabbi Ilana Goldhaber-Gordon & Rabbi Jennifer Clayman

Language changes over time, and some of the essential words in our prayers and texts no longer mean what they did at the time they were first written. Let's look at a few examples. What you learn may surprise you, and may shift your understanding of the core Jewish values expressed by these words.

Rabbi Ilana Goldhaber-Gordon is the Rabbi Educator at Congregation Beth Jacob in Redwood City.  Her rabbinic ordination is from AJRCA, and she holds a PhD in biochemistry from MIT.

Rabbi Jennifer Clayman is a teacher at Gideon Hausner Day School and an instructor for Lehrhaus Judaica.  She was ordained by HUC-JIR in Los Angeles and is a current participant in Kol Zimra, Jewish Chant Leader Training with Rabbi Shefa Gold.

Room 5&6
Text Study in Qur’an and Torah: Cain and Abel
w/ Rabbi Reuven Firestone

Many stories we know from the Torah occur also in the Qur’an, but differently. Why do “our” stories occur in “their” scripture? We will take one example and look closely at how the two scriptures tell their tales. How are they similar? How are they different? And why?

Reuven Firestone is the Regenstein Professor in medieval Judaism and Islam at Hebrew Union College, Los Angeles and Senior Fellow of the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California. He is the author of multiple books on Judaism and Islam.  He has served as Vice President of the Association for Jewish Studies and President of the International Qur’anic Studies Association, and has written more than 100 scholarly articles and book chapters.

Room Alef
To You Silence is Prayer: The Mussar Practice of Listening and Silence
w/ Rabbi David Booth & Naomi Booth

We will explore silence through a mussar lens by exploring how and why listening can elevate our intimate relationships and how silence can be a spiritual practice. Come prepared to study with your fellow student as we open up Jewish texts in ways that can help us grow as human beings.

Rabbi Booth is the spiritual leader of Congregation Kol Emeth in Palo Alto. He is passionate about learning and exploring how mitzvot and Jewish practice can make us better human beings.

Naomi Booth is a senior at Kehillah High School. She also worked as the assistant to the director of the Silicon Valley Beit Midrash. Naomi spent the last two years studying Mesilat Yesharim, a foundational work on Mussar, with her Dad.

Beit Kehillah

Lost in Translation: English is the Worst Jewlish Language
w/ Tova Birnbaum & Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan

Tova thinks in Hebrew and Peretz thinks in English. When they speak about anything Jewish do they understand each other? Can Peretz really understand Tova who was born in B'nai Brak (ultra-orthodox), educated in Tel Aviv (secular yeshivah) and now raises her American born daughter in Palo Alto? Can Tova make sense of Peretz's reform rabbi Hebrew? They will share the comic and tragic gaps and misunderstandings when we use and misuse words crucial to Jewish life.

Tova Birnbaum is the Director of Jewish Content at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto. She was born in B’nai B’rak in an Ultra-Orthodox home, was one of the founders of the BINA Secular Yeshiva in Tel Aviv and recently served as the Director of the North America Region of the World Zionist Organization. She holds a BA in Psychology and Jewish Philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an MA in Theater from Tel Aviv University.

Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan is Chief Program Officer and Senior Educator at Lehrhaus Judaica, a position which follows 40+ year career as synagogue rabbi and school and camp educator.