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Am Yisrael 2.0 [clear filter]
Sunday, March 6


Jewish Spiritual Values in the Age of Mindfulness
It is estimated that although only 2% of the US population is Jewish, 30% of Western Buddhists in the United States are Jewish. Further, many teachers of so-called, "Jewish meditation," actually teach mindfulness meditation techniques derived from the Buddhist tradition with a thin veneer of Jewish religious trappings layered over top of them. Many Jews today feel a need for a more inward, spiritual, or experiential type of practice than they are able to find within their own Jewish communities. Those who feel spiritually disconnected from Judaism very often turn to Buddhism or to the now wildly popular secularized form of Buddhist meditation known as "mindfulness." Perhaps, the emphasis on simple sitting, stillnesss, and silence are restorative antidotes to the endless stream of words in synagogue and the frenetic busyness of traditional halachic observance?

avatar for Avi Craimer

Avi Craimer

Avi works a spiritual counsellor and meditation teacher in Toronto. After graduating with two master's degrees in philosophy, with a research focus on ethics, selfhood, and phenomenology. He left academia in 2010 to pursue a certificate in non-denominational spiritual direction. He has been an Everett Fellow at the National Havurah Summer Institute, where he participated in an intensive program to train the next generation of Jewish leaders. He... Read More →

Sunday March 6, 2016 10:00am - 10:50am


The Meshugene Effect

Over the past few decades, Poland has become a true hotbed of contemporary Jewish identity debate—in Europe, but perhaps even more so in North America and in Israel, where we find so many descendants of Polish Jews. "The Meshugene Effect" is a research-creation project situated in a socio-cultural milieu, which has been receiving much attention in academic and popular circles. 

Since the fall of communism, thousands of people in Poland have discovered Jewish roots. Among them is a peculiar category of those, whose discovery was preceded by a ‘hunch’ – an irrational conviction that they were Jewish before they actually knew they were Jewish. Katka Reszke tries to make sense of the personal narratives of several Polish women (including her own), who embarked on a pursuit of Jewish identity following a feeling, an intuition, an uncanny precognition about their Jewish descent. These self-narratives reveal different ways of making sense of extraordinary experiences of memory and transition set against the landscape of troubled Polish-Jewish history and a new curious Polish-Jewish present. 

avatar for Katka Reszke

Katka Reszke

Katka Reszke is a Polish-born, U.S.-based writer, documentary filmmaker, photographer and researcher in Jewish history, culture, and identity. Currently affiliated with Brandeis University, Katka holds a Doctorate in Jewish Education from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is the author of "Return Of The Jew: Identity Narratives of the Third Post-Holocaust Generation of Jews in Poland" (2013) and the screenwriter of the acclaimed documentary... Read More →

Sunday March 6, 2016 11:00am - 11:50am


Jewish Without God
The phrase “Christian atheist” isn’t something you hear very often. Neither is “Muslim atheist.” But Judaism – especially the North American variety – seems less attached to its theological roots, and “Jewish atheism” is, as the young people say, very much a thing these days. You don’t have to go very far to find people who don’t believe in God, but still consider themselves Jews. In many cases, they’re still very much in touch with their Jewish heritage – it’s just that they’ve decided they can get along without believing in a deity. The goal for this session is to start a discussion about the nature of Jewish identity in a post-belief age. Along the way, a number of provocative questions will be confronted: Is there some connection between the reduced role of God in Judaism (compared to other faiths) and the traditional Jewish love of science and learning? Did the Holocaust make it impossible for Jews to believe in God – or was the decline in belief inevitable, in a high-tech, science-oriented world? And, what does it mean, exactly, to be a Jew if one no longer believes in the God of Abraham, Moses, and the rest of the gang?

avatar for Dan Falk

Dan Falk

Dan Falk is a journalist and author living in Toronto. He’s written for The Globe and Mail, The Walrus, New Scientist, Scientific American, and many other publications, and is the author of three popular science books, The Science of Shakespeare, In Search of Time and Universe on a T-Shirt. He’s been a regular contributor to CBC Radio, especially “Ideas” and “Quirks and Quarks.” In 2011, Dan was a Knight... Read More →

Sunday March 6, 2016 1:00pm - 1:50pm


Rabbi, Rabba, Maharat, Morateinu : Orthodox Women Breaking New Ground in Jewish Religious Leadership
Hear Rabbi Lila Kagedan, the first Orthodox woman in North American to assume the title of rabbi, share her journey as a woman to the orthodox rabbinate. A discussion about women in leadership roles in Orthodox Judaism as well as an exploration of text will highlight Rabbi Kagedan's journey. 

avatar for Lila Kagedan

Lila Kagedan

Lila Kagedan has smicha (rabbinic ordination) from Yeshivat Maharat and is a Shalom Hartman Institute RLI fellow. Lila is also a clinical ethicist and chaplain and sits on ethics committees of major hospitals, hospices and academic institutions. A seasoned teacher, Lila has taught Talmud, ethics and Jewish studies in formal and non-formal settings and has written and lectured on medicine and Jewish law, and Jewish ethics, as well as on... Read More →

Sunday March 6, 2016 1:00pm - 1:50pm


Makeshift Spirituality: Jewish Home-Making in the Secular 21st Century
Are you hungry for Judaism that merges tradition and the spirit? Unsure of how to create programs and services that resonate with your community? Inviting burnt-out and inspired Jewish leaders to join for a workshop that replenishes your self and moves you to nurture everyone else. Experimenting with innovative and nonconventional ways to draw people back to Jewish tradition, you will grapple with your Jewish journey and the needs of your community. Using the metaphor of the sukkah, you will leave this workshop flexible and rooted in the power of Jewish living to carry Judaism - and your self - to unfamiliar and dangerous communal terrain.

avatar for Devon Spier

Devon Spier

Devon Spier is a Program Coordinator, rabble-rouser and spiritual entrepreneur living in Kitchener, Ontario. By day, she organizes essential services for people on a limited income and by night, she programs out of her apartment - the "Shul Without Walls" - where she offers rituals for the unaffiliated to encounter Judaism. | Devon is also author of “Way of a Jewish Feminist” from the volume “Ways of the Spirit: Voices of... Read More →

Sunday March 6, 2016 2:00pm - 2:50pm


TRANSforming Traditions: Exploring Trans Issues in Jewish and Islamic Texts and Discourses
In societies that were defined by clear gender binaries, and in which ritual, social, and physical work was divided along gender lines, it is perhaps not surprising to discover that both Jewish and Islamic texts had anxieties about bodies that did not easily fit into these sex/gender paradigms. The Talmud explores the ritual obligations of the tumtum and the androgynus, while Islamic legal sources examine the rights of the khuntha and the mukhannath, all of whom represent either intersexed bodies, bodies with ambiguous genitalia, or those who "behave" like someone of the opposite sex. While the mere recognition of sexual diversity in such ancient texts is encouraging, can these texts serve as a basis for more inclusive discourses on LQBTQ issues in contemporary Jewish and Muslim communities? Or does the fact that they were written to solve 'the problem' presented by these 'nonconforming' bodies render them too problematic to be useful? This session will explore the relationship between Jewish and Islamic textual traditions and contemporary attempts at inclusion in living Jewish and Muslim communities, using translated passages from classical texts as well as examples from popular media such as the Amazon Prime series "Transparent" and a recent documentary on the "Trans" mosque of Indonesia.

avatar for Shari Golberg

Shari Golberg

Shari Golberg has a PhD in Religion from the University of Toronto. Her academic work explores feminist approaches to Jewish and Islamic texts and contemporary text-based collaborations between Jewish and Muslim women. Her other research interests include Canadian public policy and religious accommodation, diversity and conflict mediation, and interfaith activism. Golberg also co-ordinates and facilitates Shema & Iqra': The Jewish-Muslim Text... Read More →

Sunday March 6, 2016 3:00pm - 3:50pm


Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education
We are a grassroots organization of concerned individuals who view the most important immediate and long-term priority for our community to be making Jewish education affordable for the majority of the families in our midst.By striving to make Jewish education more affordable, we fulfill a moral obligation to our community and a historic obligation to the wider Jewish people. The status quo is an affront to conscience. Inaction is not an option. Nor is failure.

avatar for Jeffrey Stutz

Jeffrey Stutz

Jeffrey Stutz is a public policy advisor and Jewish community activist. His special interests are the impact of day school affordability on families and raising major funding to reduce the cost to parents. Jeffrey's children graduated from Toronto day schools. His grandchildren attend Jewish schools in Toronto and Israel. Jeffrey is a member of Congregation Beth Haminyan.

Sunday March 6, 2016 4:00pm - 4:50pm


But Will Your Kids Be Jewish? Family Matters
The format will be a conversation between Yacov a member of the clergy of Beth Tzedec and Kayla a congregant who is committed to raising a Jewish family together with her non-Jewish partner. Join Kayla Kwinter and Yacov Fruchter for an open discussion about the latest data on the effects of intermarriage on the Jewish community in North America and how they understand the opportunities and challenges that the current reality presents.

avatar for Yacov Fruchter

Yacov Fruchter

From August 2009 until June 2015, Yacov served as the Spiritual Leader of the Annex Shul where he built a community of hundreds of inspired young Jews and empowered them to take ownership over their Jewish experiences. | | Yacov is married to Ryla Braemer and is the proud father of two girls. Yacov and his family enjoy living in the heart of the Annex and are proud to contribute to the vibrancy of Jewish life South of Eglinton. | | He believes... Read More →
avatar for Kayla Kwinter

Kayla Kwinter

Kayla Kwinter is a litigation lawyer in Toronto and engaged member of the Jewish Community. Kayla is committed to building an inclusive and engaged Jewish community. She is enthusiastic and always willing to discuss new ideas. Kayla is particularly interested in the Jewish Community's relationship with interfaith families.

Sunday March 6, 2016 4:00pm - 4:50pm


Am I My Brother’s Keeper?
Exmining the role of siblings within the lives of people with learning disabilities, mental health issues and complex needs, The Judith Trust presents a workshop session exploring the dynamic of siblings within families who have a child with learning disabilities, mental health issues and complex needs. The session will include a range of perspectives and approaches to roles and responsibilities of siblings as well as offering a unique opportunity for siblings and parents to share their views.

avatar for Jo Richler

Jo Richler

Jo Richler | BA Hons, PGCE, MSc, FLPI | | Jo’s work and research has focused on the management of change, with a specific focus on education, special education and inclusion. | | She has worked for twenty five years in further and higher education as a tutor and senior manager, and she has an excellent reputation as a leader and innovator in the field of independent learning and learning resources. In 2004 she was awarded the Learning... Read More →

Sunday March 6, 2016 5:00pm - 5:50pm


Jews: The Remake

Throughout history, the Jewish people have confronted many grave challenges. In each instance, the Jewish response has been wildly inventive, versatile and robust. In response to each challenge, Jewish practice, belief and sense of self and nation were utterly transformed. And yet, Jewish tradition perceives itself as a continuous, uninterrupted chain extending back to Abraham and Moses.

Though Jewish people continue to honour and venerate Moses, their tablet of choice today is an iPad. The present moment in Jewish history is one of tremendous challenge and change. The crisis is profound. The radical break has broken. And most importantly, the remake is live, wireless and extraordinary.

avatar for Dan Mendelsohn Aviv

Dan Mendelsohn Aviv

Dan Mendelsohn Aviv has been engaged in Jewish learning as an educator, lecturer, professor, published scholar and author for almost 25 years. He hosts TanakhCast, a biweekly podcast about the Tanakh, authored End Of The Jews: Radical Breaks, Remakes and What Comes Next and casually maintains a blog at thenextjew.com. Most of all, he is proud of his darling children Maayan, Heala and Tal.

Sunday March 6, 2016 5:00pm - 5:50pm