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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 email@example.com.
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 6:30)
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
- Shabbat run with Natalie Shribman
Noon – 1 p.m. Lunch, including special themed table conversations
1 – 2:30 p.m.
- Asherah Cinnamon, “Anti-Semitism: 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 Israel-Palestine” (A teen session open to adults)
- Kids Programming with Levey Day School
2:45 – 3:45 p.m.
- Rabbi Rachel Isaacs
- 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
- Anna Wrobel, “Poetry as Historical and Cultural Transmission”
- George Johnson, ““The Creation Story: What It Tells Us About Human Nature”
- Lily and Lanni Solochek, “Creating Your Own Rituals”
- Manashe Khaimov, “Bukharian Jewry 101”
- 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!”
- Sarah Rockford, “Eco-Kosher: Innovation in Jewish Tradition through an Environmental Lens”
- Ayah Johnson, “Tunisian Jews and North African Jewish Religious Culture”
- Lesli Weiner and Fran Kaplan, “From Personal Memory to Story: Jewish Storytelling”
9:15 p.m. Havdalah
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 Simeon Maslin, “Is the Bible the Word of God?: An Irreverent but Loving Consideration”
- Rabbi Carolyn Braun
- Benjamin Forester, “Does God Even Need You? How to Balance Feeling Large and Feeling Small”
- Camee Davidson, “Crowning Glory: Making an Atara”
- Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor
10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
- David Halperin and Shanie Reichman of the Israel Policy Forum, “The State of Two-States”
- David Solmitz, “A Child of Survivors: Revisiting the Nazi Holocaust”
- Rabbi Darah Lerner, “Blind people and the Elephant: 18 Jewish Ways to View G!d”
- Meryl Troop and Gail Wartell, “Making Your Own Tallit”
- Natalie Shribman, “On the Map”
- Manashe Khaimov, “Language, Dress, Food:A Hands-On Examination of Bukharian Jewish Culture”
- 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.
- George Johnson, “What Will the Jewish World Look Like in 2050?”
- Rabbi Bill Siemers, “What is a Jew?” as Opposed to “Who is a Jew?”
- Sarah Emanuel, “The Jewish New Testament”
- Ayah Johnson, “Modern Jewish Literature: Focusing on Sholem Aleichem”
- Amy Meltzer, “Using Picture Books to Explore Jewish Traditions and Values”
2:15 – 3:15 p.m. Plenary Session
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.
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!
Ayah Johnson, “Tunisian Jews and North African Religious Culture.”
Ayah Johnson will trace the history of Tunisian Jews, who are believed to have first settled in North Africa during the Roman Empire and lived there during the Christian and Arab conquests, until today. Dr. Johnson will also describe their exodus from Tunisia in 1948 and 1957 and give special attention to the turmoil and tribulations of the last exodus in 1962, of which she was a part.
Ayah Johnson, “Modern Jewish Literature: Focusing on Sholem Aleichem”
Sholem Aleichem (1859–1916), a Jewish humorist born Shalom Rabinowitz, is one of the founding fathers of modern Yiddish literature. He tapped into the energies of the East European, spoken-Yiddish idioms and invented modern Jewish imaginative archetypes, myths, and fables. The body of work that he created is vast. During this session we will discuss his life and his experiences amid revival of the Hebrew language and revival of Yiddish literature. We will examine and analyze two of his short stories (monologues): “The Pot,” and “If I Were a Rothschild.” We will examine the style, structure, content, and the characters introduced in these stories.
George Johnson, “The Creation Story: What It Tells Us About Human Nature”
The stories of the creation of Man in Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of Bereishit/Genesis are very different. Are they in fact different stories or are they the same story told differently? More specifically, how is the Man (and Woman) created in the two stories different? Most people read the stories in English. But by doing so, we miss many profound messages that the Hebrew text—not only the words, but also the letters in the words—tell us about the purpose of creation, and more pointedly, the purpose and nature of Man in G-d’s creation. We will explore these insights through a study of the text and the commentaries of leading rabbinic sages, including the profound insights of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik in his seminal work, “The Lonely Man of Faith.”
George Johnson, “What Will the Jewish World Look Like in 2050?”
What do studies of current trends in the American Jewish population tell us about what the Jewish world will look like in 2050? Population data show that cultural trends are reshaping the American Jewish population. How are families with one spouse who is not Jewish raising their children? And is this creating a much more diverse “Jewish community?” How many Jews, including synagogue Jews, believe in G-d? Are “not affiliated” and “not Jewish by religion” becoming the new normal? Is a major realignment among the three major denominations taking place? Has it taken place already? Is a much more Orthodox “organized” community in the offing? These are major questions we will examine. Last year George E. Johnson, senior editor at Moment magazine, conducted a symposium in Moment on the “Jewish Future,” with prominent demographers, social scientists and historians. Some see the “glass half full,” and others see it “half empty.” But the changes are already here.
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.
Natalie Shribman, “On the Map”
Join a discussion about the many maps of Israel. We will explore the preconceptions and representations of Israel and the Middle East through a gallery walk of different maps of the region. Open minds and open hearts appreciated!
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.
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.
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.