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Herzlia Synagogue

Herzlia- Adas Yeshurun Launches 5776’s Jewish Renaissance Lecture Series “Jewish Leadership Through the Ages”

November 11, 2015


Is it possible for a scientist/philosopher to believe in God? How do we bring order and content to Jewish education? Should all Jews move back to Israel? How do I explain in a politically correct manner why I am a Jew and not a Christian? Politics in action: how do I protect the interests of the Jewish community with a hostile government? Why does anti-Semitism keep raising its head?


Many of these questions are familiar to us, as they have been for the Jewish people over the past 2000 years. In different periods, in different countries, Jews have had to formulate responses to these recurring issues. In this exciting new course, we will study these questions in various contexts, focusing on different periods from Jewish history. We will travel back and forth through time from Jewish Spain, to leading female Torah scholars in Israel, to visions for the “New Jew” in 1900 Russia, to issues of Jewish peoplehood in our time, and back to politics in the Hebrew Bible.


Portraits of Leaders in Jewish Spain: From Golden Age to Expulsion


Each month we will focus on four leaders, beginning in Spain. Though quite a few centuries and an ocean apart, there are many similarities between the current Jewish community in North America and that of medieval Spain. Jews were full participants in government, science, philosophy and literature, and were often leaders in these fields. Some of the greatest works of Hebrew poetry and Jewish philosophy were written in Spain. Different from our present situation were the periods with discrimination, persecution and forced conversion.


Spanish Jewry produced some of our greatest leaders: Maimonides, the foremost scientist and Jewish scholar of his day, Yehuda Halevi, Hebrew poet par excellence, Nachmanides, defender of Judaism, and Abravanel, who discovered that even his financial usefulness and considerable diplomatic skills were no match for the anti-Semitism of his time.


Studying their writings, we view into their world. We discover their love for their fellow Jews and their passion for Judaism. We will see how they struggled with these recurring questions, often while overcoming considerable obstacles in their personal lives. After a brief review of the historical context, we will focus on the challenges of each period and each leader’s response. As we reflect on what we can learn from their leadership, we’ll be inspired by their vision and courage.


This four-part lunch and learn series will be taught by Dr. Ruth Ashrafi, MA (Talmud), PhD (Midrash and Medieval Hebrew Literature). Dr. Ashrafi is Herzlia-Adas Yeshurun’s Director of Education, Programming and Ritual. She is also Judaic Studies Coordinator at Gray Academy of Jewish Education.


November 22- Through the Eyes of Maimonides


November 29- Through the Eyes of Yehuda Halevi


December 13- Through the Eyes of Nachmonides


December 20- Through the Eyes of Abravanel 



Classes will begin at noon in the social hall and run through 1:30 pm. $30 class fee includes 4 lunches plus study guide. Registration is required and childcare is available.


Herzlia - Adas Yeshurun

620 Brock Street

p:  204 - 489 – 6262

e: [email protected]

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

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