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Please note that this schedule is in progress. Speakers may change time slots, and we will be adding to this schedule as additional events and speakers are confirmed. Also, unfortunately, we have had the experience in past years of speakers canceling for personal reasons, though we hope that this will not happen this year. When choosing which days to attend the conference, please keep this in mind. We will continue to make every effort to update this schedule quickly and regularly. You may wish to check back. If you have any questions about this schedule, please feel free to contact Melanie Weiss at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday Night (Thomas College):
3:30 – 5 p.m. Check in
5 p.m. Kiddush
5:15 – 6:15 p.m. Dinner
6:30 – 6:45 p.m. Introductory Remarks
6:45 – 7:45 p.m.
- Keynote Remarks by Amir Tibon, Washington Correspondent for Ha’aretz newspaper
- Kids’ Services and babysitting (begins at 6:30 p.m.)
8 – 9 p.m. Kabbalat Shabbat
9 p.m. Tisch
Saturday (Thomas College):
8 – 9 a.m. Breakfast
9 – 11 a.m.
- Reform Services
- Conservative Services
- Orthodox Services
- Woods-Walk Service with Chris Marshall and Susan Bakaley Marshall
11 a.m. – 12 noon: “Building a Culture of Security Preparedness: Lessons Learned from Pittsburgh to Poway,” Doron Horowitz, Senior National Security Advisor, Secure Community Network, introduced by Edward Finkel
This session is sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America
Noon – 1 p.m. Lunch, including special themed table conversations
1 – 2:30 p.m.
- Asherah Cinnamon, “Antisemitism: Why Is It Everyone’s Issue?”
- Roxanne Baker and Meryl Troop, “The Promised Hands”
- Panel of Maine Rabbis, “My Favorite Text in Ten Minutes”
- Shanie Reichman, “Finding your Voice on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” (A teen session open to adult attendance)
- Kids Programming with Levey Day School
2:45 – 3:45 p.m.
- Rabbi Rachel Isaacs, “Reconciliation in the Jewish Tradition”
- Rabbi Jeff Hoffman, “Mystical Jewish Prayer”
- Jonathan Pollack, “Scrap Yards, Second-Hand Stores, and the Business of Small-Town Jewish Life”
- Lily Solochek, “A Very Maine Mikveh”
- Chayim Goldberg, “Glatt or Not: An Exploration of the Laws of Meat and Kashrut Standards”
- Amy Meltzer, “Jewish Parenting in the Great Outdoors”
3:45 – 5 p.m. Seudah Shlishit/Cocktail Hour
5 – 6 p.m. Dinner
6:30 – 7:45 p.m.
- Rabbi Erica Asch, “Social Justice: Making Local Change”
- Anna Wrobel, “Poetry as Historical and Cultural Transmission”
- Lesli Weiner and Fran Kaplan, “From Personal Memory to Story: Jewish Storytelling”
- “Experiences of Conversion in Maine,” a moderated panel
- Teen learning with Benjy Forester
8 – 9 p.m.
- Rabbi Sruli Dresdner, “Taboo: An Open and Safe Space to Share Your Doubts, Subversive Ideas, and Heresies—With a Rabbi!”
- Lily and Lanni Solochek, “Creating Your Own Rituals”
- Manashe Khaimov, “Bukharian Jewry 101”
- Rabbi Bill Siemers, “What is a Jew?” as Opposed to “Who is a Jew?”
9:15 p.m. Havdalah
10 p.m.: Lisa Mayer, “Late Night Laughter: A Comedic Essay Reading”
Sunday (various locations throughout downtown Waterville)
8 – 9 a.m. Breakfast at Thomas College
9:15 – 10:15 a.m.
- Barbara Merson, “Mensches and Morals: Jewish Values through the Lens of Film”
- Rabbi Darah Lerner, “Blind People and the Elephant: 18 Jewish Ways to View G!d”
- Benjamin Forester, “Does God Even Need You? How to Balance Feeling Large and Feeling Small”
- Amy Meltzer, “Using Picture Books to Explore Jewish Traditions and Values”
- Camee Davidson, “Crowning Glory: Making an Atara”
- Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor
- Teen Programming with Lily Solochek
10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
- Michael Koplow, “The State of Two-States”
- Rabbi Simeon Maslin, “Is the Bible the Word of God?: An Irreverent but Loving Consideration”
- Rabbi Carolyn Braun, “I Lift….My Eyes: From Bentching to Benching”
- Meryl Troop and Gail Wartell, “Making Your Own Tallit”
- Rabbi Aaron Shub
- David Trietsch, Closing Session for CSTJL Lay Leadership Development participants
11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Lunch on your own in downtown Waterville
1 – 2 p.m.
- Sarah Emanuel, “The Jewish New Testament”
- Sarah Rockford, “Eco-Kosher: Innovation in Jewish Tradition through an Environmental Lens”
- Manashe Khaimov, “Language, Dress, Food: A Hands-On Examination of Bukharian Jewish Culture”
- David Solmitz, “A Child of Survivors: Revisiting the Nazi Holocaust”
2:15 – 3:15 p.m.
Plenary Session, “Tikkun Olam—Making a Global Impact One Person at a Time” with Jane Karlin, Senior Vice President Israel and Global Philanthropy, The Jewish Agency for Israel, introduced by Edward Finkel.
This session is sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America
Rabbi Erica Asch, “Social Justice: Making Local Change”
Over two years ago, Temple Beth El in Augusta started talking to our members to see what they wanted to change in our local community. After months of research, we decide to work on having school boards adopt a policy recognizing minority religious holidays and working not to plan important school-wide events on those holidays. We partnered with the interfaith community to bring write the policy and bring it to four local school boards. We attended school board meetings and testified, spoke to local media, wrote op-eds and met with elected officials. In the end, three school boards passed the proposal. This session will explain how we used the principles of Congregation Based Community Organizing to identify our issue, find allies, and make change in the world. We will discuss how you can use these principles to make change in your own communities.
Roxanne Baker and Meryl Troop, “The Promised Hands”
Roxanne Baker, Deaf Jewish woman of southern Maine, will perform her piece, “The Promised Hands,” in American Sign Language, with English interpretation by Meryl Troop. First performed at Congregation Bet Ha’am’s gala in 2018 to great acclaim, this performance piece will open your eyes to the Deaf experience as it related to Judaism in Maine. Question and answer period will follow the performance.
Rabbi Carolyn Braun, “I Lift….My Eyes: From Bentching to Benching”
There are great things that happen to us in life that were not in our life’s plan. For me, it has been serving as a Pulpit Rabbi for 24 years and my love of powerlifting. Using traditional texts, and the texts of our lives, we will explore Divinely inspired surprises in our lives.
Asherah Cinnamon, “Anti-Semitism: Why Is It Everyone’s Issue?”
An interactive workshop presented in conjunction with Jews and Allies United to End Anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has consistently been used to confuse people and to divert and divide the efforts of many liberation movements, including work against racism, sexism, classism, and gender identity oppression. Learn what anti-Semitism is, how it fits historically and currently into systemic economic class oppression, and why that is significant in the current social/political climate. Understand when something is or is not anti-Semitism. Learn about powerful listening skills to change people’s hearts.
Rabbi Sruli Dresdner, “Taboo: An Open and Safe Space to Share Your Doubts, Subversive Ideas, and Heresies—With a Rabbi!”
Hate the words of a prayer? Find the Torah outdated or silly? Secretly eat on Yom Kippur? Feel anxious in a synagogue? You are not alone! This session will take a frank and brutally honest approach to some of the hardest to like aspects of Jewish life.
Sarah Emanuel, “The Jewish New Testament”
While the New Testament is a collection of texts deemed sacred to many modern Christians, the stories within it were crafted well before Christianity as we know it ever existed. Many of the New Testament writers, in fact, weren’t Christian at all; rather, many were Jews. In this session, we will discuss what it means to situate the New Testament within a Jewish context, and also consider what the ethics and import of such discussion might entail.
Benjamin Forester, “Does God Even Need You? How to Balance Feeling Large and Feeling Small”
The way that God is described often makes us feel small and insignificant, for how could we compare to the omniscient and omnipotent Creator? Yet, humans are created in God’s image and are called upon to be holy just like God. While one perfectly acceptable resolution to this conundrum calls for relating to a more immanent God who shapes us, partners with us, and needs us, we will explore together how to find comfort and empowerment in relating to a transcendent God.
Chayim Goldberg, “Glatt or Not: An Exploration of the Laws of Meat and Kashrut Standards.”
What is the definition of “kosher” meat? What is the difference between “kosher” and “Glatt kosher?” Join me in exploring the criteria that meat must meet to be considered kosher from a halachic perspective. We will focus on the anatomy of ungulates, the definition of “treif,” and different halachic standards and what they are based on. Please note that this class will use anatomical photos and actual goat lungs.
David Halperin and Shanie Reichman, “The State of Two-States”
Attendees will leave this informative session with a firm foundation and understanding of where the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies today – and how new initiatives and policies can address the current stalemate. Led by Israel Policy Forum Executive Director David Halperin, there will be ample time for questions and conversations on all things related to the two-state solution.
Rabbi Jeff Hoffman, “Mystical Jewish Prayer”
There are a number of prayers in the Siddur that are mystical in origin and in content, both Kabbalistic and pre-Kabbalistic. We will study El Adon, a prayer that predates Kabbalah by several centuries. It is a poetic jewel, a paean to God that features the sun, moon, and stars. We will also discuss its proximity to another very ancient mystical prayer, the Kedushah DeYotzer. Knowledge of Hebrew helpful but not required. Openness to unusual forms of spirituality would similarly be helpful!
Doron Horowitz, “Building a Culture of Security Preparedness: Lessons Learned from Pittsburgh to Poway,”
Within minutes of the horrific massacre which killed eleven worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27th and six months later in Poway, CA, the Jewish community’s local and national security teams deployed and responded to assist the community and law enforcement in the hours and days after the attacks. Despite the attack in Pittsburgh becoming the deadliest against the Jewish community in U.S. history, the security planning and preparedness actions of the community saved lives and prevented a far worse tragedy. From planning and preparedness to law enforcement partnerships, assessments, training, and exercise, the proactive measures and lessons learned tell a compelling story of community preparedness, partnerships, and resilience in today’s current threat environment, which has seen an increase in deadly attacks against houses of worship. Hear from SCN Senior National Security Advisor Doron Horowitz, who spent the initial hours and days after the attack supporting the community and law enforcement during those dark days. This session is sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America.
Rabbi Rachel Isaacs, “Reconciliation”
We live in a moment of extreme polarization, defined by political litmus tests, secular banishing, and abundant brokenness. How do we come back together as a community and as a nation? We will look back to the sources in the Jewish tradition — from Biblical narrative to contemporary Israeli poetry — that focus on facilitating healing and reconciliation, mending effectively what has been rent, and defining the reasonable limits of reconciliation in cases of betrayal, injustice, and abuse. This session will include song, explorations of religious and secular texts, and open discussion. Folks of all faiths and backgrounds are encouraged to come, learn, and contribute.
Jane Karlin, “Jewish Mainers: Making a Global Tikkun Olam Impact through The Jewish Agency for Israel”
Since 1929, The Jewish Agency for Israel has been striving to secure a vibrant Jewish future. After helping to found and build the State of Israel, The Jewish Agency continued to be a link between the homeland of the Jewish people and Jewish communities everywhere. It has contributed to addressing every generation’s greatest challenges to the Jewish people. Today, as the Jewish Federation of North America’s global partner, The Jewish Agency connects Jews to one another and brings Israel and Jewish peoplehood to Jews everywhere – through opportunities for Israel engagement and vital services to Jews at times of crisis and need worldwide through Aliyah and programs helping all ages and stages. This session will highlight how The Jewish Agency has evolved to make a global impact. From the Former Soviet Union, Israel, the United States, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, Jewish Mainers will learn of the many ways tikkun olam is happening in partnership together.
Manashe Khaimov, “Bukharian Jewry 101”
Join Manashe Khaimov to learn about his journey in discovering his roots. We’ll examine interesting questions: Who are Bukharian Jews? How did they end up in Central Asia? Why do they call Bukharian Jews? What impact have they made in the countries they lived in across the world? Highlights the origins and path of Bukharian Jews throughout history.
Manashe Khaimov, “Language, Dress, Food: A Hands-On Examination of Bukharian Jewish Culture”
Explore an important part of Bukharian Jewish culture, Bukharian language (also known as Judeo-Tajik or Bukhori), life cycle events, and traditional clothing. In this session, we will look at the Bukharian wedding as a lifecycle event and talk about its importance and the influences of Muslim and American cultures. Also, you will have an opportunity to look at the fascinating artifacts and traditional clothing from the Bukharian Jewish Heritage Museum, and talk about their importance and the differences that they have from the local community in Uzbekistan.
Rabbi Darah Lerner, “The Blind Man and the Elephant: 18 Ways of Looking at God”
Jews have famously been known as “God Wrestlers” always trying to understand and to know God, yet at the same time some of our greatest thinkers point out inherent the challenges of this: Joseph Albo, the Spanish theologian, taught “God cannot be defined.” The philosopher Maimonides taught that God can only described by what God is not—God is not corporeal, does not occupy space, etc. This session will offer Jewish ways to acknowledge Albo and Maimonides and share 18 ways we have and can think about God for the 21st century.
Rabbi Simeon Maslin, “Is the Bible the Word of God?: An Irreverent but Loving Consideration”
Did Moses really give the Torah at Sinai? Did God really speak to the prophets? If the Bible is a human document, why should we revere it?
Amy Meltzer, “Jewish Parenting in the Great Outdoors”
In this highly interactive session, you and your child will experience the wonder of nature through a Jewish lens, through games, story, and song.
Amy Meltzer, “Using Picture Books to Explore Jewish Traditions and Values”
In this session, we’ll consider how books can help us both learn from and teach our children. We’ll explore some of the ways PJ Library books can launch meaningful conversations, inspire new traditions, and connect us to Jewish tradition. This session is especially for parents of children ages 8 and under. Each participant will leave with a book to take home!
Jonathan Pollack, “Scrap Yards, Second-Hand Stores, and the Business of Small-Town Jewish Life”
How did Jews wind up in your town? Chances are, the answer to that question has something to do with repurposed goods; from the late 19th through the mid-20th centuries, Jewish entrepreneurs dominated the scrap business in all its forms. In this session, we’ll discuss the roots of
small Jewish communities in this common economic niche.
Shanie Reichman, “Finding your Voice on Israel-Palestine”
This interactive session will dive into the complexities and nuances of the two-state solution. Led by Israel Policy Forum’s Shanie Reichman, who helps coordinate and lead IPF Atid young professional and student activity around the country, attendees of this session will learn more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and contribute their own thoughts and views to a wider discussion. Please note that while adults will be permitted to attend this session, it is primarily for teenagers and college students.
Sarah Rockford, “Eco-Kosher: Innovation in Jewish Tradition through an Environmental Lens”
For Jewish people, traditional relationships with food are governed by the laws of kashrut—stringent guidelines that sanctify and separate our food choices, that affirm our religious identity, and that bring us into conversation with what is on our plate. If we follow the spiral of Jewish thought into 2019, how can we use concepts of environmentalism to augment and evolve our understanding of what constitutes kosher food? What if we draw on the concept of kashrut and go beyond it to try out a new word: eco-kashrut? Through this exploration of environmentally minded innovation in Jewish tradition, participants will be encouraged to reflect on how innovation relates to their individual Jewish identities and relationships to halachah or Jewish law.
Rabbi Bill Siemers, “‘What is a Jew?’ as Opposed to ‘Who is a Jew?'”
Contemporary discourse assumes that Jewish identity is a status, something that is either possessed or not possessed by an individual. But in both medieval and modern sources it is possible to ask the different question of what is the substance of Jewish identity? This session will introduce some of the most important sources, and explore they can be used to broaden our understanding of what it means to be a Jew.
David Solmitz, “A Child of Survivors: Revisiting the Nazi Holocaust”
David Solmitz will present a slideshow of his family’s German heritage and horrendous experiences during the Nazi era. In this session we will also explore archival documents and photos.
Lily Solochek, “A Very Maine Mikveh”
This session is an exploration of how local Mainers can use their water sources as natural mikvot, as well as an intro teaching on how to be a mikveh guide for those who want to immerse in natural water. As part of the culmination of a year-long project, we will be using the rituals and materials that were created by Mainers throughout the year.
Lily and Lanni Solochek, “Create Your Own Rituals”
We will be exploring how to DIY Jewish life-cycle events to give ownership of Jewish tradition. Infusing Jewish tradition with a personal touch, we will be talking through how to “customize” Jewish life-cycle events to be meaningful and resonant for individuals. This will be part seminar, part workshop.
David Trietsch, “Managing Change in Your Congregation”
Based on Professor John Kotter’s eight steps of organizational change and translated for congregations, we will explore this framework for guiding and anchoring change in congregations. Whether you are contemplating a significant change agenda or in its midst, this session will help you identify possible next steps or gaps in your process that can undermine success.
Meryl Troop and Gail Wartell, “Making a Tallit”
Join artists Gail Wartell and Meryl Troop to design your own one-of-a-kind silk tallit! Using pre-made silk scarves, paint with fabric dye in a design of your choosing or be inspired by traditional prayer-shawl designs we will provide. Learn to tie the tzitzit to complete your project. We will end with the prayer said when putting on a tallit.
Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor, “Creating Community—A Jewish Imperative”
In this session we’ll explore some of the foundational texts from biblical and rabbinic literature that call Jews to build and be part of communal life. We’ll discuss what is means to be part of a community, what are our obligations as they relate to participation, and what challenges we face in building community. All texts are in English and all are welcome.
Lesli Weiner and Fran Kaplan, “From Personal Memory to Story: Jewish Storytelling”
In Jewish custom and ritual, the idea of memory holds a significant place. We call to mind our ancestors, of distant and recent past, in many holiday prayers, with the tradition of naming children, and certainly in our Jewish lore. In this workshop, we will be attempting to access our own memories of a person from our past, filtered through a Jewish construct, honing in on one from which to tell a short memoir. No experience with storytelling is needed!
Anna Wrobel, “Poetry as Historical and Cultural Transmission”
As historian and poet, Anna Wrobel recognizes that the two may work in tandem, as creative products are grounded in the context of their times and societies. Making use of Israeli, Yiddish, and American poetry, several major themes in Jewish life and history will be examined and interpreted. Participant engagement, seminar-style, is fully encouraged.